Opera Scotland

Fledermaus 1997Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Fledermaus

For Scottish Opera, the great importance of the 1996-97 season is that it saw the premiere of Inés de Castro, the first full-length opera by James MacMillan. It had been over a decade since the company had last launched a new work - Harper's Hedda Gabler in 1985. The success of the opening at the Edinburgh Festival was deserved, and it was as well received during the main autumn season. That contained six other full-scale productions: Idomeneo, Trovatore, Bohème, Fledermaus, Samson and Delilah and Cunning Little Vixen. The Opera-Go-Round small-scale tour was an enjoyable staging of Così fan tutte. There was also a bonus in December, with an enjoyable series of concerts around the country under the title The Scottish Opera Collection.

Giles Havergal was a dominant figure in the Glasgow arts world, having been a director of the Citizens Theatre from 1969. He came late to directing opera in Cardiff and Leeds, and even later to working with Scottish Opera. His first work with them, the excellent 1994 staging of L’elisir d’amore, was followed by this Fledermaus which didn’t work in every respect. There were excellent ideas, however, with an appropriate lightness of touch which did give it an appropriately Viennese feel.

The cast had some very strong elements. The ladies, Janis Kelly, Lisa Milne, and Anne Howells (in her last performances with the company), were particularly strong. Richard Coxon was an excellent over-the-top Alfred. Peter Evans was vocally lightweight, but had a good sense of style in the dialogue. Andrews Hammond and Slater also contributed well. Nicholas Braithwaite's conducting also settled down after a few performances and developed an appropriate lilt.

The problems were largely visual - there was no sense of unity or style in the designs, some of which were garishly bright. The second act at Orlofsky's ball, dominated by clashing shades of green and red, looked horrible. The final scene had a stage-wide backdrop of shiny red plastic which not only looked vile, but reflected the lights and TV monitors attached to the front of the dress circle, as well as giving an excellent reflection of the conductor, all of which distracted from any attempt to follow the stage action.

Whether this was deliberate perversity or accidental incompetence never became clear. Also an unusual decision was taken to run the second and third acts together. Perhaps speeding up the denouement can be a good idea. Maybe the excision of most of Frosch’s role – not really the same since Billy Connolly got his hands on it – could work. But this solution was certainly no improvement, and actually made the evening seem longer.

Performance Cast

Adele the Eisensteins' maid

Lisa Milne

Rosalinde wife of Eisenstein

Janis Kelly

Alfred an Italian tenor and admirer of Rosalinde

Richard Coxon

Gabriel von Eisenstein

Peter Evans

Blind Eisenstein's lawyer

Alexander Morrison

Falke a notary and friend of Eisenstein

Andrew Hammond

Frank prison governor

Andrew Slater

Ida Adele's sister

Ailsa Mooney

Orlofsky a rich young Russian prince

Anne Howells

Frosch prison warder

Barrie Hunter

Performance DatesFledermaus 1997

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

12 Feb, 19.15 14 Feb, 19.15 15 Feb, 19.15 18 Feb, 19.15 20 Feb, 19.15 22 Feb, 14.15 25 Mar, 19.15 27 Mar, 19.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

25 Feb, 19.15 27 Feb, 19.15 1 Mar, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

4 Mar, 07.15 6 Mar, 19.15 8 Mar, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

11 Mar, 19.15 13 Mar, 19.15 15 Mar, 19.15

Eden Court Theatre | Inverness

18 Mar, 19.15

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