Opera Scotland

Nozze di Figaro 1961Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Marriage of Figaro

This was the final tour for Douglas Seale's hugely popular production - it had featured in four of the company's five visits to Dundee,  Sadler's Wells now turned its attention other Mozart operas that it had neglected.  Don Giovanni had quite recently been performed by the recently defunct Carl Rosa company.  The Magic FluteCosì fan tutte, even Idomeneo, would now enter the Wells repertory, though not all would tour.

It was noticeable for the first appearance as a conductor by the young Scot James Lockhart. In spite of a notable career with Covent Garden. Welsh National, and several German houses, he only conducted a single performance with Scottish Opera.   He later became a highly reputable teacher, and is remembered for several recordings he made as conductor or pianist with Dame Margaret Price.

 

Dundee Press Report

Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Thursday, May 4, 1961

Mozart masterpiece delights

'The Sadler’s Wells Opera’s 1956 production of The Marriage of Figaro, though familiar at Dundee Gaumont Theatre in recent years, attracted practically a full house last night.  One suspects that, knowing how splendidly the Wells company and orchestra does the Mozart masterpiece, devotees could not let slip the chance to hear it again.

'Getting on for two centuries ago, the Beaumarchais comedy adapted for the master musician’s pen was a then dangerous satire on the privilege of the lord of the manor.  Now the interest is practically all in Mozart’s dazzling music.  The succession of numbers is matchless for liveliness, wit and delicacy.  Yet among all the composers represented by this week’s operas, Mozart is the only one who did not make a fortune.

'Though last night’s sets and costumes were familiar, there was much pleasure in hearing and seeing practically a new cast - again voices admirably chosen to suit the roles.  One must commend the amount of the text which came over the footlights through good diction, also the refined slyness of the comedy asides accompanying the amorous imbroglios.  The orchestral playing, directed by James Lockhart, was dexterously tasteful.  The conductor’s tempi were courageously fast, but avoided the breakneck.

'Nancy Creighton (Susanna) pleased with her agile high soprano.  She well suggested the pertness of the character, though without the over-elaboration which can make artifice too obvious.  This artistic restraint was also shown by the Figaro, Gwyn Griffiths.  His comedy was of a refined mould, and his extensive baritone range was allied to a warm tone.

'A new Countess, Wendy Baldwin, impressed with a lovely voice and the musicianly skill with which she sang Mozart’s serious passages, particularly the peerless lament in Act III.  John Hargreaves’ Count Almaviva was a repeat performance here, richly satisfying in voice and subtle characterisation.

'Cherubino, the amorous page and imp of mischief, had a vital and charming performance from Catherine Wilson; and Rita Hunter (Marcellina) and Harold Blackburn (Doctor Bartolo) mixed comedy with several displays of vocal agility.'

 

Sadler's Wells Opera in Scotland - 1961

There were two Scottish visits, with Aberdeen omitted altogether.  The Spring tour of three weeks began on 17 April and visited Glasgow (Empire), Edinburgh (King's) and Dundee (Gaument). This was the final visit to Dundee before the Gaumont's closure. In Autumn the company returned on 13 November to the Glasgow Empire followed by a week in Edinburgh.

The ten operas on the tour were:  Mozart (Marriage of Figaro);  Rossini (Barber of SevilleCinderella);  Wagner (Tannhäuser);  Verdi (Traviata);  Offenbach (Orpheus in the Underworld);  J Strauss (Fledermaus); Puccini (BohèmeTosca);  Lehár (Land of Smiles).

The Scottish tour schedule was:

Glasgow, w/c 17 April:  Mon 17 Traviata;  Tue 18 Barber of Seville;  Wed 19 Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 20 Fledermaus;  Fri 21 Tosca;  Sat 22 m Fledermaus;  Sat 22 e Barber of Seville.

Edinburgh, w/c 24 April:  Mon 24 Traviata;  Tue 25 Barber of Seville;  Wed 26 Tosca;  Thu 27 Land of Smiles;  Fri 28 Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 29 m Land of Smiles;  Sat 29 e Barber of Seville.

Dundee, w/c  1 May:  Mon 1 Tosca;  Tue 2 Traviata;  Wed 3 Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 4 Barber of Seville;  Fri 5 Land of Smiles;  Sat 6 m Land of Smiles;  Sat 6 e Barber of Seville.

Edinburgh, w/c 6 November:  Mon 6 Orpheus in the Underworld;  Tue 7 Bohème;  Wed 8 Cinderella;  Thu 9 Traviata;  Fri 10 Tannhäuser;  Sat 11 m Orpheus in the Underworld;  Sat 11 e Bohème.

Glasgow, w/c 13 November:  Mon 13 Orpheus in the Underworld;  Tue 14 Tannhäuser;  Wed 15 Bohème;  Thu 16 Traviata;  Fri 17 Cinderella;  Sat 18 m Orpheus in the Underworld;  Sat 18 e Bohème.  

Cast details for Dundee are from a programme in the ENO archive

Performance Cast

Figaro the Count's valet

Gwyn Griffiths (May 3)

Susanna the Countess's maid

Nancy Creighton (May 3)

Cherubino the Count's page

Catherine Wilson (May 3)

Count Almaviva

John Hargreaves (May 3)

Bartolo a doctor, the Countess's former guardian

Harold Blackburn (May 3)

Marcellina Bartolo's housekeeper

Rita Hunter (May 3)

Don Basilio a priest and music master

John Chorley (May 3)

Countess Almaviva

Wendy Baldwin (May 3)

Antonio a gardener, Susanna's uncle

Leon Greene (May 3)

Don Curzio a lawyer

Gwilym Jones (May 3)

Barbarina daugher of Antonio

Joan Smalley (May 3)

First Peasant Girl

Joan Clarkson (May 3)

Second Peasant Girl

Sheila Hardie (May 3)

Dancer

Priscilla Truett (May 3)

Joyce Dodd (May 3)

Robert Blake (May 3)

Anton Waller (May 3)

Performance DatesNozze di Figaro 1961

Map List

Empire Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

19 Apr, 19.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

28 Apr, 19.00

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

3 May, 19.00

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