Opera Scotland

Erwartung 1990Scottish National Orchestra

Read more about the opera Erwartung

In the days when the SNO played regularly for Scottish Opera, and Alexander Gibson directed both organisations, there was no perceived need for the SNO to perform opera independently.  After all, they played for all Scottish Opera's 'big' production - Otello, Boris Godunov, Peter Grimes, the Ring, Tristan, Meistersinger.  More recently, under Walter Weller and Stéphane Denève, the orchestra, no longer required by Scottish Opera,  has given concert performances of such works as The Flying Dutchman and Elektra (in Glasgow) and Pelléas et Mélisande (in both Glasgow and Edinburgh). 

In 1975, the year of the Ravel centenary, the orchestra, with its Principal Guest Conductor Gary Bertini,  performed L'Enfant et les Sortilèges.    Not only that, but they included it in the monthly tour to Aberdeen and Dundee - a previously unheard-of extravagance much appreciated by those north of the central belt.  Interest was therefore keen when the orchestra announced that its 1989-90 winter season would include four performances of Schoenberg's monodrama Erwartung,  to be conducted again by the Principal Guest Conductor, by this time Matthias Bamert.    The protagonist was to be Dame Josephine Barstow, an occasional visitor to Aberdeen, first with Sadler's Wells and later with Scottish Opera.   But she had never sung in Dundee.

Sadly, things did not work out as hoped.   The soprano was ill and withdrew at a late stage, so the hunt was on for the SNO management to track down any available singers who knew the part, and could arrive in time.   The American soprano Carole Farley was a rare visitor to Britain. She had spent a season with Welsh National Opera in 1972, when she had alternated performances as  Donna Anna, in repertoire  with the title role in the first British staging of Berg's Lulu.  She had also sung in Mahler's 8th Symphony in London.  She was available to sing on Tuesday in Aberdeen.   Jane Manning, an acknowledged expert in difficult twentieth century music, and who had given a touching performance in Edward harper's Fanny Robin a dozen years earlier, was available to sing on Friday and Saturday.

Which left Wednesday.  At this stage the SNO ran out of luck, and audiences arrived at the Caird Hall to be told that they would instead hear Schubert's 8th Symphony.  On this occasion it was not only 'unfinished', but also unrehearsed - or at least it sounded that way.  Who ever said that managing an orchestra is easy?

Performance Cast


Carole Farley (Feb 27)

Jane Manning (Mar 2, 3)

Performance DatesErwartung 1990

Map List

Music Hall, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

27 Feb, 19.30

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

2 Mar, 19.30

City Halls, Glasgow | Glasgow

3 Mar, 19.30

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