Opera Scotland

Death of Sir Charles Mackerras

Posted 17 Jul 2010

Sir Charles Mackerras,who died on 14 July 2010 from cancer at the age of 84, had one of the most distinguished of musical careers. In Scotland Sir Charles was best known for his long relationship with the Edinburgh Festival, of which he was honorary president at the time of his death. He had appeared almost annually at the Festival since 1952, when he conducted Pineapple Poll, his arrangement of Sullivan’s music for a ballet. He never conducted a staged opera at the Festival, but in recent years, having established a close relationship with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, he presented many Mozart operas in concert performances, several of which were recorded at the time. He also led highly dramatic concert performances of Maria Stuarda, Der Freischutz and Macbeth, as well as another of his specialities, Handel oratorio.

With Scottish Opera he conducted Dido and Aeneas, starring Dame Janet Baker, on a 1978 visit to the Aix-en-Provence Festival. When that production entered the repertoire at the Theatre Royal that autumn, they added Holst’s Savitri. He also conducted Simon Boccanegra for the company. Particularly noted for his advocacy of Janacek, in Scotland such performances were limited to concert items, such as the Glagolitic Mass and the Sinfonietta. Mackerras did, however, conduct several operas with Sadler’s Wells on tour, including their final 1976 visit, with a Ring cycle at the Glasgow Theatre Royal.


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