Opera Scotland

Nozze di Figaro 1957Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Marriage of Figaro

Alexander Gibson here conducted a cast of long-term Sadler’s Wells stalwarts – no British opera company keeps groups of singers of this quality together anymore.  The production had opened at Sadler's Wells on 18 April 1956,  as the company's contribution to the Mozart bi-centenary celebrations.  While some of Malcolm Pride's designs were highly regarded, the direction by Douglas Seale seems to have been over-farcical.  Other ideas included the novelty of the Countess not being alone and soulful as the Act 2 curtain rises,  but sitting for her portrait, which, of course,  means that Susanna is also there as chaperone.  While critics may been less keen,  audiences lapped it up,  and it remained a staple of the repertoire, in London and on tour,  for the next few seasons.

Through the sixties the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden had several star pairings who would have crowds queuing round the block.  Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev were,  of course,  the most famous.  But two other pairs were not far behind - Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell were one,  and Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable the other.  On this single tour with the Sadler's Wells company,  Seymour (still using her own name of Springbett) and Gable were barely eighteen.

The cast is for the performances in Aberdeen and Dundee,  both from programmes.  Most of the artists had created their roles the previous April,  but the opening night in London had featured the conductor Rudolf Schwarz,  with Patricia Howard,  Joan Stuart as the Countess,  Owen Brannigan as Bartolo and Charles Draper as Antonio.


The 1957 tour programme

The four week tour of Scotland for once omitted Edinburgh, going to Aberdeen and Dundee instead.  Having been without professional opera since before the war, Dundee had received hugely successful visits by Carl Rosa in 1955 and 1956, so it was logical for the Wells to follow on, as they did annually with equal success until the theatre again became unavailable in 1961.  The repertoire in each city was similar but for Dundee not hearing Il trovatore (an extra Bohème instead) and Glasgow also getting Eugene Onegin and Puccini's Trittico.

The tour schedule was as follows:

Aberdeen, w/c 1 April:  Mon 1  Traviata;  Tue 2  Tosca;  Wed 3  Martha;  Thu 4  Trovatore;  Fri 5  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 6 mat Bartered Bride;  Sat 6 eve  Bohème.

Dundee, w/c 8 April:  Mon 8  Traviata;  Tue 9  Bohème;  Wed 10  Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 11  Martha;  Fri 12  Tosca;  Sat 13 mat  Bohème.;  Sat 3 eve  Bartered Bride.

Glasgow, w/c 15 April:  Mon 15  Trovatore;  Tue 16  Bohème;  Wed 17  Tosca;  Thu 18  Trovatore;  Fri 19  Martha;  Sat 20 Mat  Bartered Bride;  Sat 20 eve  Tosca

Glasgow, w/c 22 April:  Mon 22  Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 23  Martha;  Wed 24  Tabarro & Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi;  Thu 25  Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 26 Eugene Onegin;  Sat 27 mat  Traviata.;  Sat 27 eve Bartered Bride.

Performance Cast

Figaro the Count's valet

Denis Dowling

Susanna the Countess's maid

Marion Studholme (Apr 5)

Patricia Howard (Apr 10)

Cherubino the Count's page

Anna Pollak

Count Almaviva

John Hargreaves

Bartolo a doctor, the Countess's former guardian

Howell Glynne

Marcellina Bartolo's housekeeper

Sheila Rex

Don Basilio a priest and music master

Thomas Round

Countess Almaviva

Patricia Bartlett

Antonio a gardener, Susanna's uncle

Harold Blackburn

Don Curzio a lawyer

Gwent Lewis

Barbarina daugher of Antonio

Joan Smalley

First Peasant Girl

Joan Clarkson

Second Peasant Girl

Sheila Hardie


Lynn Springbett

Christopher Gable

Performance DatesNozze di Figaro 1957

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

5 Apr, 19.30

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

10 Apr, 19.30

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

22 Apr, 19.30 25 Apr, 19.30

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