Opera Scotland

Lady from the Sea The Lady from the Sea

Tours by decade

2010s - 1 tour

2012 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

Tours by location


Craig Armstrong


Zoë Strachan


Drama Fruen fra havet (1888) by Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906).



First Performance: Edinburgh (King's Theatre), 29 August 2012.

Scottish Opera première: As above.



The Ibsen drama is rarely performed in Britain, perhaps because the title role of Ellida is indelibly associated with great performances at different stages of her career by Vanessa Redgrave (one of which, it seems, first attracted Craig Armstrong to the play). While the symbolism implied by the Stranger from the sea gives hints of Ibsen's later work it is perhaps a less depressing piece than most. His plays have not often attracted opera composers. Edward Harper's Hedda Gabler, which worked quite well when Scottish Opera produced it, has not been done much since, so it will be interesting to see if The Lady catches on. 


Main Characters

Dr Wangel (tenor)

Ellida, his second wife (soprano)

Boletta, Wangel's daughter (mezzo-soprano)

Hilde, her sister (soprano)

Arnholm, Boletta's former tutor (baritone)

Lyngstrand, a patient of Dr Wangel (tenor)

The Stranger (baritone)


Plot Summary

Ellida is married  to Dr Wangel, who has two daughters from his first marriage. While she loves her husband, the relationship with her stepdaughters is uneasy, and she feels stifled by the local small town community. She is obsessed by the sea, insisting on a daily swim, which results in the villagers giving her the nickname of the title. This obsession is the result of a relationship she had with a seaman some years before. He was a murderer forced to flee from justice, but when he turns up and insists on her leaving with him in line with her earlier promise, she has a dilemma. The doctor gives her the right to choose for herself, and this allows her, on equal terms, to choose her husband and reject the stranger.

The Cast

 Boletta's former tutor
 Dr Wangel's daughter
 Dr Wangel's second wife
 Dr Wangel's daughter
 a patient of Dr Wangel
 a doctor

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