Opera Scotland

Trojans 1969Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Troyens

For its large-scale staging of 1969, Scottish Opera interrupted the assembly of its Ring production in order to commemorate the centenary of the death of Berlioz.  The opera had been given its British premiere, divided over two evenings, by Glasgow Grand at the Theatre Royal in 1935, and the staging of The Trojans in one evening was an ambitious project requiring a large cast of soloists.  It also needed an integral ballet company, and the recent move to Glasgow and renaming of Western Theatre Ballet made that far easier.

Of course the prime justification was the availability of Janet Baker to follow up her success in the comic role of Dorabella in 1967 (revived in this season) with the dramatically powerful tragic role of Dido. Ronald Dowd produced a vivid account of Aeneas, and the company had assembled a group of excellent performers in the other roles.  Bernadette Greevy was an excellent Irish contralto who had appeared very rarely in opera in Britain.  Her only other appearance with Scottish Opera was the revival in 1972.

The performance of the orchestra under Alexander Gibson was very highly regarded.  Critics thought the visual side of the production was less effective.  The sets were solid but provided little atmosphere, and not much change between Troy and Carthage.  The original wooden horse, eighteen feet tall, was so heavy that when it first appeared at a rehearsal it broke through the floor of the King's stage.  The design of the costumes also seemed unhelpful, perhaps owing more to the traditions of Hollywood epics by Cecil B De Mille than anything else.  The 1960s and '70s were not a good period for theatrical wigs either - very much over the top.


Scottish Opera's Eighth Season - 1969

Inevitably, The Trojans dominated the Spring season. The smaller-scale works seen included a revival of the 1967 Così fan tutte, with Janet Baker, Elizabeth Harwood and Peter van der Bilt returning. There were further performances of Albert Herring and the recent Gondoliers. Robin Orr's Full Circle, also new the previous year, re-appeared in a triple-bill with two ballets. This made sense, given the involvement of Scottish Theatre Ballet in the Berlioz. They were here allowed to show a potential audience their range.

Western Theatre Ballet, had relocated to Glasgow as Scottish Theatre Ballet and so were available to collaborate on The Trojans and provide two  short works to partner Full Circle.  The first of these two pieces was a new work, Breakaway, choreographed by Gillian Lynne to a commissioned score by Barry Booth.  The finale was La Ventana, a one-act classic from 1856 by Bournonville, to music by Lumbye.  In future years Scottish Ballet would produce plenty of new work, but would also make a speciality of Bournonville's delightful Danish inventions, including Napoli, Flower Festival at Genzano and La Sylphide.

Albert Herring was taken on a three-stop German tour following up its visit to Florence in 1968.  A further new work was introduced at the Festival (on the Fringe) and the company's first full-scale Rossini at Christmas.

The seven operas performed during the year were:  Mozart (Così fan tutte);  Rossini (Cinderella);  Berlioz (The Trojans);  Sullivan (The Gondoliers); Britten (Albert Herring);  Orr (Full Circle);  and Purser (The Undertaker). 

The schedule was as follows:

Perth, w/c 31 March: Mon 31 np;  Tue 1 Apr np; Wed 2 np;  Thu 3 np;  Fri 4 np;  Sat 5 Così fan tutte.

Perth, w/c 7 April:  Mon 7 Così fan tutte; Tue 8 np; Wed 9 mat Full Circle & Ballet;  Wed 9 e Full Circle & Ballet;  Thu 10 Così fan tutte ;  Fri 11 Albert Herring;  Sat 12 Così fan tutte.

Glasgow, w/c 29 Apr:  Mon 28 np; Tue 29 np;  Wed 30 np;  Thu 1 May np;  Fri 2 np;  Sat 3 Trojans.

Glasgow, w/c 5 May:  Mon 5 Full Circle & Ballet;  Tue 6 np;  Wed 7 Così fan tutte; Thu 8 m Full Circle & Ballet;  Thu 8 e Full Circle & Ballet;  Fri 9 Così fan tutte;  Sat 10 Trojans.

Glasgow: w/c 12 May:  Mon 12 np;  Tue 13 Così fan tutte;  Wed 14 Trojans;  Thu 15 m Gondoliers;  Thu 15 e Gondoliers;  Fri 16 Albert Herring;  Sat 17 m Gondoliers;  Sat 17 e Gondoliers.

Edinburgh w/c 19 May:  Mon 19 Trojans;  Tue 20 Così fan tutte;  Wed 21 m Full Circle & Ballet;  Wed 21 e Full Circle & Ballet;  Thu 22 m Gondoliers;  Thu 22 e Gondoliers;  Fri 23 Così fan tutte;  Sat 24 Trojans.

Week comm 26/05:  Hanover Mon 26 Albert Herring;  Wed 28 Dortmund Albert Herring;  Fri 30 Augsburg Albert Herring.

Aberdeen, w/c 2 June:  Mon 2 np;  Tue 3 Così fan tutte;  Wed 4 Gondoliers;  Thu 5 Albert Herring;  Fri 6 Gondoliers;  Sat 7 Così fan tutte.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe saw 10 performances, late-night at the Gateway Theatre in Leith Walk, of a double bill of short works.  The serious and well-regarded Full Circle was now paired with a new piece by John Purser - The Undertaker, a black comedy.

Edinburgh, w/c 1 Sep:  Mon 1;  Tue 2;  Wed 3;  Thu 4;  Fri 5;  Sat 6.

Edinburgh, w/c 8 Sep:  Mon 8;  Tue 9;  Wed 10;  Thu 11,

The company followed the previous year's precedent by mounting a pre-Christmas season at the Edinburgh King's.  There was a new production of Rossini's Cenerentola.  Also, as Edinburgh had not seen it in the spring, there were two further performances of Albert Herring, as well as more ballet, this time allowed complete evenings.

Edinburgh, w/c 1 December:  Mon 1 np; Tue 2 np; Wed 3 np; Thu 4 np; Fri 5 Cinderella;  Sat 6 Albert Herring.

Edinburgh, w/c 8 December:  Mon 8 Cinderella; Tue 9 np;  Wed 10 Cinderella;  Thu 11 np;  Fri 12 Cinderella;  Sat 13 Albert Herring.

The small-scale, piano-accompanied Opera For All tour continued.  Early in the year, two long-running productions, Madam Butterfly and Don Giovanni, were joined by Don Pasquale, replacing The Barber of Seville.  In the Autumn they were in turn retired, and Don Pasquale was joined by two new productions, Martha and La traviata.

Performance Cast

Cassandra a prophetess (Cassandre)

Ann Howard

Ascanius son of Aeneas (Ascagne)

Patricia Hay

Hecuba Queen of Troy, wife of Priam (Hécube)

Joan Clarkson

Polyxena daughter of Priam

Barbara Walker

Aeneas a Trojan commander, son of Venus and Anchises (Énée)

Ronald Dowd

Choroebus a young Asian, fiancé of Cassandra (Chorèbe)

John Shaw

Pantheus a Trojan priest and friend of Aeneas (Panthée)

William McCue

Ghost of Hector Priam's eldest son

Joseph Rouleau

Priam King of Troy

John Lawson Graham

Trojan Soldier

Ronald Morrison

Greek Captain

Brian Kemp

Helenus a Trojan priest, son of Priam

John Robertson

Andromache widow of Hector

Elaine McDonald

Astyanax son of Hector and Andromache

Alasdair McLean

Dido Queen of Carthage, widow of Sichaeus, Prince of Tyre (Didon)

Janet Baker

Anna Dido's sister

Bernadette Greevy

Narbal adviser to Dido

Joseph Rouleau

Iopas a Tyrien minstrel at Dido's court

Robert Thomas

Mercury Mercure

Brian Kemp

Hylas a young Phrygian sailor

Duncan Robertson (Exc May 10)

John Robertson (May 10)

First Soldier

Ronald Morrison

Second Soldier

John Lawson Graham

Ghost of Cassandra

Ann Howard

Ghost of Choroebus

John Shaw

Ghost of Priam

John Lawson Graham

Performance DatesTrojans 1969

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

3 May, 18.00 10 May, 18.00 14 May, 18.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

19 May, 18.00 24 May, 18.00

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