Opera Scotland

Voice of Ariadne 1981Cologne Opera

Read more about the opera Voice of Ariadne

In 1981 it was a surprise when the Cologne Opera's return visit was announced, only a year after their first appearance in Edinburgh. But their chief conductor, Sir John Pritchard, had a connection going right back to the earliest years of the Festival. This time they brought another Mozart piece, Clemenza, the Rossini Barber, and a recent British piece, Musgrave's Voice of Ariadne. Scottish Opera provided a lively modernised treatment of Gay's Beggar's Opera, not admired by everyone. Perhaps the greatest delight of all came from a rare staging of Leonard Bernstein's bubbly operetta Candide. This was put on in the Assembly Hall by Clive Perry's Birmingham Rep company, alternating with As You Like It.

This was the first Scottish appearance of this very attractive opera by Thea Musgrave. The original production for the English Opera Group, directed by Colin Graham, opened at Aldeburgh with a cast led by Thomas Allen and Jill Gomez as Count and Countess, and was well received. The Voice of Ariadne is an electronic tape using the voice of Joan Davies, and was made with the assistance of Richard Rodney Bennett. It still seems surprising that no other British company has mounted the work.

This staging was under the auspices of the Cologne Opera Studio - a part of the main company that honed the skills of young professionals. The director on this occasion, a trainee with that company, was Willy Decker, who has since gone on to a notable international career, although his Giulio Cesare for Scottish Opera in 1992 was not entirely successful. This was altogether more interesting, though done in a modern abstract style - not much sign of ithe story's Henry James origins. Musically the whole evening sounded superb, with Musgrave's beautiful score a real highlight. The cast, all at a generally high level, was dominated by the elegant, lyrical Count of Norman Phillips. His only previous British appearances had been with WNO as Don Carlo di Vargas, but following these Edinburgh performances, he returned to sing with Scottish Opera in Manon Lescaut and The Pearl Fishers.

Performance DatesVoice of Ariadne 1981

Map List

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

24 Aug, 19.30 26 Aug, 19.30

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