Opera Scotland

Carmen 1959Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Carmen

Perhaps the most important singers in this cast are Peter Glossop as Escamillo and David Ward as Zuniga.  Both were soon to make important moves to C0vent Garden at the start of international careers.

Monica Sinclair was perhaps the best British contralto between the death of Kathleen Ferrier and the ascendancy of Janet Baker.  Whether Carmen was natural territory for her was perhaps debatable.

 

The Dundee Press

Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Thursday, April 30, 1959

It all depends on Carmen

'Another packed audience for the Sadler's Wells Opera at the Gaumont Theatre, Dundee last night welcomed the chance to see and hear Bizet's Carmen - the first time for many years this favourite has been performed professionally in the city.  Given the right artistes, Carmen is a good entertainment, both lyrical and dramatic musically, and with a strong and passionate story to hold the interest.

'The honours were shared last night by Monica Sinclair, a finely tempestuous Carmen with ideal vocal equipment for the part, and by William Aitken, of Glasgow, whose Don José was sound all through, and in at least two sequences positively brilliant.  Carmen depends greatly on how the gipsy spitfire looks and sings. In Monica Sinclair the performance had a more than adequate representation of the character's elemental attraction, and her voice happily comprised the qualities ranging from contralto to soprano which are demanded. Her sultry seguidillas - and dances - were delivered with well-studied effect.  She displayed great abilities as an actress in the dramatic “cards scene”, and prior to being stabbed to death by Don Jose in his jealous fury.

'William Aitken one recalls as a splendid lyric tenor a few years ago in The Barber of Seville. Last night he was showing his versatility as a dramatic tenor, yet preserving, such as in the Flower Song, a beautiful lyrical quality. This famous aria was sung by Mr Aitken with unusual artistry, the nostalgic soft tone of its start being skilfully expanded later to a full robusto.  His other two peaks were in the dramatics of Act III and in Carmen's death scene.

'Escamillo, the toreador, completing the triangle, is a short-distance passenger compared with the two principals.  Peter Glossop, who sang this part, impressed with the musical quality of his baritone, which was unforced.  Ava June (Micaëla), David Ward (Zuniga), Ann Robson (Mercédès), Anne Edwards (Frasquita), Peter Tracey (Moralès), and Joseph Ward and Edwin Jepps as the smuggler chiefs were all excellently cast.

'Imaginative staging, fine chorus singing, and orchestral playing contributed to an evening without blemish.  Bizet scored comparatively lightly, at least where the voices are concerned, so there were no problems of singers being overborne by the sound from the orchestra pit. This, under James Robertson's direction, with pliable tempos, gave constant pleasure.'

Cast details from programmes in Edinburgh City Library (Apr 21) and ENO archive (Apr 29).

 

Sadler's Wells Opera in Scotland - 1959

This tour was extremely unusual in that it lasted three weeks, spread across three cities.  The same repertoire was presented in each of the venues - Edinburgh (King's Theatre), Dundee (Gaumont Theatre) and Glasgow (King's Theatre).

The six operas performed in each city were Mozart (Marriage of Figaro); Beethoven (Fidelio);  Verdi (Rigoletto);  Bizet (Carmen);  Puccini (Madam Butterfly) and  Lehár (Merry Widow).

The tour schedule was:

Edinburgh, w/c 20 Apr:  Mon 20 Merry Widow;  Tue 21 Carmen;  Wed 22 Fidelio;  Thu 23 Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 24 Madam Butterfly;  Sat 25 m Merry Widow;  Sat 25 e Rigoletto.

Dundee, w/c 27 Apr:  Mon 27 Merry Widow;  Tue 28  Madam Butterfly;  Wed 29 Carmen;  Thu 30 Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 1 May Fidelio;  Sat 2 m Merry Widow;  Sat 2 e Rigoletto.

Glasgow, w/c 4 May:  Mon 4 Merry Widow;  Tue 5 Madam Butterfly; Wed 6 Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 7 Fidelio;  Fri 8 Carmen;  Sat 9 m Merry Widow;  Sat 9 e Rigoletto

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Peter Tracey

Micaëla a peasant girl

Ava June

Don José a corporal of dragoons

William Aitken

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

David Ward

Carmen a gypsy

Monica Sinclair

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Anne Edwards

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Sheila Rex (Apr 21)

Ann Robson (Apr 29)

Escamillo a toreador

Peter Glossop

Dancaïre a smuggler

Joseph Ward

Remendado a smuggler

Edwin Jepps

Performance DatesCarmen 1959

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

21 Apr, 19.00

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

29 Apr, 19.00

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 May, 19.00

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