Opera Scotland

Sir John in Love

Posted 5 May 2015

Prior to the RCS production of May 2015, Sir John in Love, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, has been produced only once in Scotland. This took place over thirty years ago, in February 1982, by the Opera Club of Edinburgh University. The Club then performed under the supervision of Dr Roger Savage, a lecturer and broadcaster with a passion for music theatre. Based on Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, the work is rarely staged, not only because both Verdi and Nicolai covered the same ground, but because it requires a large cast.

Interviewed in Student before the opening night, Roger Savage recalled that the production marked his sixteenth year with the group. Summarising some of the key issues, it was noted that the George Square Theatre did not have a pit, and the acoustics were considered poor. "If one is standing in the middle of the stage, no music can be heard, and therefore all the action has to be confined to the front. This means it cannot be a box set production using elaborate scenery, so I thought I'd do it on a rostrum stage with the minimum of props and almost Brechtian lighting. To accommodate quite a large orchestra, the seats in front of the balustrade are being removed". Sir John in Love sees 35 people sparking on stage supported by a production team of about twenty.

Reviews commented on the difficulties caused by the need to carry props on and off stage, and the cramped nature of the movement. The standard of acting - particularly of the chorus - was also remarked upon. Failings there were, commented the reviewer, "but overall Sir John in Love was an amusing, good-natured, well directed show with invigorating music enthusiastically played. It fully deserved the applause."

Do any photographs survive? Please let us know if you have any.

The cast included many performers still remembered and a few still active.

Check out the cast of that amazing production here.


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