Opera Scotland

Così fan tutte 1967Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Così fan tutte

This now legendary staging gave a great boost to Scottish Opera's reputation at a time when its growing prestige was based on performances of large scale works such as Otello and Die Walküre. It started out in the intimacy of the small Perth theatre, and the sense of three-dimensional humans was there from the outset and magically returned in a series of revivals over many years, being seen for the last time in 1981, touring into 1982.

The opening scene set the tone - the men were not in the usual café, but in a Turkish bath, sweating off the alcoholic excesses of the night before. Everything was black, white or grey. The fluffy robes and turbans supplied the idea for the disguises later on. As the first act progressed, colour began to creep in by means of flowers and minute splashes of tinting on the girls' gowns, until the second act began with a riot of rich shades. For the serenade, the garden seemed almost like a tropical jungle. In the wedding scene, as reality was reimposed, the colour faded away, leaving the wiser figures in monochrome surroundings as at the start. Janet Baker and Elizabeth Harwood gave vivid performances as the sisters, Ryland Davies had a first run at a role he would later sing all over the world, and the other singers also gave lively performances.

One thing which seems remarkable today is the fact that extra Thursday matinee performances were given for Glasgow and Edinburgh schoolchildren. Do any of those kids still remember such a fabulous occasion? This was the fourth year of that great enterprise, subsidised by the local authorities. It now seems that the sixties were in some ways a golden age for arts funding.

 

The opening night in Perth was reviewed with enthusiasm in The Stage of Thursday, 20 April:- ''The delicacy of the musical characterisation and the sparkling fun of the farce are brought out in Anthony Besch's production, which uses for the first time in Britain the new translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin, published by Schirmer. Its chief impression is of wit and flexibility. Its deft clarity and point are illustrated by some of the extremely apt rhyming cadences.

''The Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Gibson, showed immense resilience and a happy, confident accord with the singers. Of special charm in the concerted passages was the exquisite blend of the sopranos, Elizabeth Harwood and Janet Baker, achieving colour and contrast by the subtle interplay of chords. Suave control and beautiful shaping of lines came from the tenor of Ryland Davies and the baritone of Peter van der Bilt.

''Inia Te Wiata's rich bass perhaps did not get full justice in this particular opera, but his impeccable timing of Don Alfonso's staccato lines, and his discreetly masterful air as the engineer of the cynical plot, were a joy. Jenifer Eddy's playing and singing of the maid Despina came into the same category, sparklingly accurate in its sense of saucy comedy and funny in the impersonations of doctor and justice.

''John Stoddart's settings have remarkable grace and style, a sense of height and freedom, yet delicately filigreed to match the arched, eliptical decoration of the music. The garden scene, setting off delicious costumes, breathes beauty, and it is quite a piece of stage engineering to raise the solid-looking bath-house equipment to the flies.''

 

The 1967 season: a summary

The spring 1967 season of Scottish Opera opened with the excellent new production of Così fan tutte, which was joined by the company's first stagings of Das Rheingold and La bohème. There were also revivals of Otello and Albert Herring.

The 1967 spring season of mainstage performances involved Perth, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh. For the first time the company was invited to appear at the Edinburgh Festival, with a major contribution to the Stravinsky theme.

The productions were Così fan tutte (9 performances), Albert Herring (4), Das Rheingold (5), La bohème (7), Otello (5), Rake’s Progress (4) and Soldier’s Tale (6).

 

The complete schedule for the season was:

Perth Theatre: Wed 12 Apr Così fan tutte; Fri 14 Albert Herring; Sat 15 Così fan tutte.

Glasgow, King’s Theatre: Sat 6 May Rheingold; Wed 10 Così fan tutte; Thu 11 La bohème; Friday 12 Rheingold; Sat 13 La bohème; Tue 16 Così fan tutte; Wed 17 Otello; Thu 18 m Così fan tutte; Thu 18 La bohème; Fri 19 Albert Herring; Sat 20 Otello.

Aberdeen, His Majesty’s Theatre: Tue 23 May Rheingold; Wed 24 Albert Herring; Thu 25 Così fan tutte; Fri 26 Otello; Sat 27 La bohème.

Edinburgh, King’s Theatre: Tue 30 May Otello, Wed 31 May Così fan tutte; Thu 1 June La bohème; Fri 2 June Das Rheingold; Sat 3 June Otello; Tue 6 June Albert Herring; Wed 7 June Das Rheingold; Thu 8 June m Così fan tutte;Thu 8 June La bohème; Fri 9 June Cosi fan tutte; Sat 10 June La bohème.

Edinburgh Festival - King's Theatre: 22, 26, 31 Aug; 8 Sep Rake’s Progress.

Edinburgh Festival - Assembly Hall : 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Sep Soldier’s Tale.

As Scottish Opera gathered strength, by its fifth year the season had therefore grown to an impressive forty performances within Scotland; three Perth; five Aberdeen; eleven Edinburgh (plus ten at the Edinburgh Festival); and eleven Glasgow.

Performance Cast

Ferrando a young army officer

Ryland Davies

Guglielmo another officer, Ferrando's friend

Peter van der Bilt (Exc May 25)

John Kitchiner (May 25)

Don Alfonso a middle-aged bachelor

Inia Te Wiata

Fiordiligi a young lady from Ferrara, engaged to Guglielmo

Elizabeth Harwood

Dorabella Fiordiligi's sister, engaged to Ferrando

Janet Baker

Despina maidservant to the sisters

Jenifer Eddy

Performance DatesCosì fan tutte 1967

Map List

Perth Theatre | Perth

12 Apr, 19.00 15 Apr, 19.00

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 May, 19.00 16 May, 19.00 18 May, 14.00

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

25 May, 19.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

31 May, 19.00 8 Jun, 14.00 9 Jun, 19.00

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