Opera Scotland

Simon Boccanegra 1978Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Simon Boccanegra

Scottish Opera's fourth season at the Theatre Royal (1978-79) opened with Simon Boccanegra, and continued with Jenůfa, Catiline Conspiracy then an unusual triple-bill of Savitri, Fanny Robin and Dido and Aeneas. Next came Seraglio, Rosenkavalier, Hansel and Gretel, Fledermaus, Midsummer Night's Dream, Bohème, Kátya Kabanová and Rigoletto. In June there followed the company's first staging of a musical, Fiddler on the Roof. Many of these works were also toured.

Simon Boccanegra had not at this stage been performed in Scotland - when it was in the Sadler's Wells repertoire after the war they did not come north, and, astonishingly, it has never featured in Edinburgh Festival programmes. With the success of the Strehler production, particularly on the Scala's 1976 Covent Garden visit, this masterpiece's continued absence from Scottish Opera's programme could no longer be ignored. In the event, Peter Ebert's staging was accounted a near-miss which improved enormously on revival, when it was sharpened up by Graham Vick. The combination of Peter Rice's simple basic set and Mario Vanarelli's effective Italian medieval costumes worked well in Victor Lockwood's well-varied lighting plot.

The undoubted success of the series was the role debut as Fiesco by Robert Lloyd. This immediately became one of his best roles, quickly repeated at Covent Garden and later at the New York Met. The role of Paolo is usually given to young baritones who are almost ready for the big Verdi roles, and Donald Maxwell's balefully malicious characterisation showed clear signs of the excellent Iago he would soon sing in Wales, though never, sadly, in Scotland. Jan Derksen's return visit following the 1975 Ballo did not make as much impact this time.

It is likely that the main problem arose from the illness of the scheduled conductor and Amelia, Lawrence Foster and Linda Esther Gray, who were forced to withdraw at a late stage. The replacement conductors were both excellent, and Henry Lewis returned to the company several times, for more Boccanegra performances, as well as The Golden Cockerel and Lucia. It must be regretted that Sir Charles Mackerras conducted opera so rarely in Scotland, and no more Verdi until a concert performance of Macbeth at the Edinburgh Festival.

Cast details are from the programme for the final performance on Thursday 19 October.

Performance Cast

Paolo Albiani a goldsmith, initially a friend of Simon

Malcolm Donnelly (Exc Oct 14, 19)

Donald Maxwell (Oct 14, 19)

Pietro leader of the plebeians

Norman White

Simon Boccanegra a Genoese corsair, later Doge

Jan Derksen

Jacopo Fiesco a patrician, later disguised as Andrea Grimaldi

Robert Lloyd (Exc Oct 19)

William McCue (Oct 19)

Amelia Grimaldi in fact Maria, Simon's daughter

Gabriela Cegolèa

Gabriele Adorno a patrician, in love with Amelia

Allen Cathcart


Malcolm Aitken

Performance DatesSimon Boccanegra 1978

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

4 Oct, 19.15 7 Oct, 19.15 10 Oct, 19.15 14 Oct, 14.15 19 Oct, 19.15

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