Opera Scotland

Trojans 1972Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Troyens

The 1969 production was given a welcome revival for the 1972 Festival, still performed in English (though a few people objected to the Festival mounting opera in any language than the original).

Janet Baker returned for the three Edinburgh performances, wonderfully dramatic, in spite of a nasty cold.  Just as impressive was the fact that Cassandra was sung by Helga Dernesch.  She had restudied the Marschallin in English in 1971 (when Baker had sung her only Octavians).  She now learned a new role in English, though she was at least able to sing it in French later at the Vienna State Opera.  Her gleaming soprano was in excellent form.

With Ronald Dowd having returned to live in Australia, the problem of casting Aeneas was solved by the regular guest singer Gregory Dempsey, another Australian long resident in London.  Aeneas was a heavier role than he usually took, and stretched him to the limits of his voice, though he still sang and acted effectively.  Among the smaller roles, Gordon Sandison made his company debut at a prestigious occasion.  For these performances, the Royal Hunt and Storm and other dance sequences were effectively rechoreographed by Laverne Meyer.

The 1969 run had only involved performances in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but this time, after the trio of Festival performances, three more were given, in Glasgow, the now accepted touring date in Newcastle, and a novelty, in the company's first visit to Leeds (this being several years before Opera North would be established at the Grand).  For these performances, Janet Baker and Helga Dernesch dropped out.  This was Sarah Walker's first visit to Scottish Opera, but she had already received high praise for her performance of Dido with the Chelsea Opera Group.  Margaret Kingsley had made a great impression as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre a few months before.

One strange omission in the programme for the tour is any mention of the Ballet company or choreographer. Does this mean that ballets were not performed on tour? That would have been very strange, at least in Glasgow, which was, after all, the home of Scottish Ballet.

After the autumn weeks in Glasgow, Leeds and Newcastle, the company moved on to Stirling, Aberdeen and back to Edinburgh.  The repertoire in all venues included a revival of The Marriage of Figaro with a new staging of Don Pasquale.  The last two cities also saw a performance each of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

 

Opera at the Edinburgh Festival - 1972

The Festival 's opening week contained Scottish Opera's 1969 staging of The Trojans, revived with Janet Baker as Dido and Helga Dernesch as Cassandra.

There was a guest company - an unfamiliar German team, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein from Düsseldorf and Duisberg.  They brought two highly contrasted pieces.  Die Soldaten, by the late Bernd Alois Zimmermann, was a large-scale modern piece of music theatre.  Their other work was a complete contrast - a very early example of opera, or perhaps staged oratorio, Emilio de' Cavalieri's Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo.

The second team of visitors was the Teatro Massimo from Palermo.  Three rarities from the Italian  ottocento repertoire were presented.  The Rossini was the recently-revived first of his important Naples commissions, Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra.  The Verdi was the early Attila.  It was also essential that this company should feature a work by a Sicilian composer.  The obvious candidate, Bellini, was represented by an unknown early work,  La straniera.

In sum, the operas were by Cavalieri (Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo);  Rossini (Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra);  Bellini (La straniera);  Berlioz (The Trojans);  Verdi (Attila); Zimmermann (Die Soldaten)

Among the concerts at the Usher Hall, Daniel Barenboim conducted the London Philharmonic in two performances of the Brahms German Requiem.  Mahler's vocal symphony Das Lied von der Erde was presented by the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan.

The opera schedule was as follows:

Week commencing 21 August:  Mon 21 Die Soldaten; Tue 22 Die Soldaten; Wed 23 np;  Thu 24 Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo & The Trojans;  25 Rappresentatione;  26 The Trojans.

Week commencing 28 August: Mon 28 Attila;  Tue 29 np;  Wed 30 Attila;  Thu 31 La straniera;  Fri 1 Sep Attila;  Sat 2 La straniera.

Week commencing 4 September: Mon 4 Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra;  Tue 5 La straniera;  Wed 6 The Trojans;  Thus 7 Elisabetta;  Fri 8 La straniera;  Sat 9 Elisabetta.

Performance Cast

Cassandra a prophetess (Cassandre)

Helga Dernesch (Aug 24, 26; Sep 6)

Margaret Kingsley (Sep 16, 23, 30)

Ascanius son of Aeneas (Ascagne)

Patricia Hay

Hecuba Queen of Troy, wife of Priam (Hécube)

Patricia Purcell

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

Gregory Dempsey

Choroebus a young Asian, fiancé of Cassandra (Chorèbe)

Delme Bryn-Jones

Pantheus a Trojan priest and friend of Aeneas (Panthée)

John Lawson Graham

Ghost of Hector Priam's eldest son

Joseph Rouleau

Priam King of Troy

Norman White

Trojan Soldier

Gordon Sandison

Helenus a Trojan priest, son of Priam

John Robertson

Andromache widow of Hector

Elaine McDonald

Astyanax son of Hector and Andromache

Mark Carson

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

Janet Baker (Aug 24, 26; Sep 6)

Sarah Walker (Sep 16, 23, 30)

Anna Dido's sister

Bernadette Greevy

Narbal adviser to Dido

Joseph Rouleau

Iopas a Tyrien minstrel at Dido's court

Derek Blackwell (Exc Sep 30)

John Robertson (Sep 30)

Mercury Mercure

Gordon Sandison

Hylas a young Phrygian sailor

John Robertson

First Soldier

Gordon Sandison

Second Soldier

Norman White

Ghost of Choroebus

Delme Bryn-Jones

Ghost of Priam

Norman White

Ghost of Cassandra

Helga Dernesch (Aug 24, 26; Sep 6)

Margaret Kingsley (Sep 16, 23, 30)

Performance DatesTrojans 1972

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

24 Aug, 17.30 26 Aug, 17.30 6 Sep, 17.30

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

16 Sep, 17.30

Grand Theatre, Leeds | Leeds

23 Sep, 17.30

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

30 Sep, 17.30

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