Opera Scotland

Jolie Fille de Perth 1972Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Fair Maid of Perth

During the decade from 1967, Scottish Opera provided the management for a third company of the Arts Council's Opera For All operation, which also included teams from the London Opera Centre and Welsh National Opera. The idea was to tour reduced scale performances, accompanied by piano, visiting populations without theatres suitable for full-scale performance, and to provide training opportunities for young singers. The repertoire included popular works by Mozart (Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte) and Rossini (Barber and Cinderella), as well as Madam Butterfly, La Traviata, Don Pasquale and Martha. Usually three pieces were played in repertoire, and the Scottish company visited the whole of Britain from Shetland to the south coast and across to Pembrokeshire.

Perhaps surprisingly, given its fondness for The Pearl Fishers, Scottish Opera has never given The Fair Maid of Perth a full-scale staging. However their Opera for All company selected the work as one of three operas to tour Britain with piano accompaniment in the winter of 1971-72. Rossini’s Cinderella was included on the tour as well as two works to commemorate the bicentenary of Sir Walter Scott’s birth. Lucia di Lammermoor was inevitably one, and Fair Maid the other. The tour ran from 18 October to 4 March, with 60 performances in total. The Bizet was launched in Ayr on 23 October. Malcolm Rayment, Music Critic of the Glasgow Herald, caught up with it at the Close Theatre Club in Glasgow just before Christmas. He was not keen on the opera, being particularly hard on the libretto, but still seems to have enjoyed the performance. The production was reviewed enthusiastically by Elizabeth Forbes in the April 1972 issue of Opera. She had attended a later performance at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, which is the source of our cast listing. Alternate performers are to be confirmed.

The cast included the company debuts of Dennis O'Neill and Malcolm Donnelly, both of whom spent several seasons with Scottish Opera before going on to notable international careers. On the tour there were two sopranos who could alternate as both Catherine and Lucia. Presumably they both appeared as sisters on Cinderella nights. These young singers also provided cover for the main company if required, and Alexandra Gordon was available to go on as a late replacement Woodbird in the Ring Cycle Siegfried on Thursday 16 December.

The Fair Maid received a total of eight performances before Christmas, with a further fifteen from January to March. The second group are as follows: 12 Jan (Troon), 18 Jan (Dunfermline), 20 Jan (Stranraer), 25 Jan (Hexham), 29 Jan (Richmond), 2 Feb (Alnwick), 9 Feb (Mansfield), 12 Feb (Leicester), 14 Feb (Wellingborough), 19 Feb (Canterbury), 22 Feb (Wem), 24 Feb (Malvern), 26 Feb (Boston), 28 Feb (Wisbech), 4 Mar (Soham).

The tour details are from Richard Telfer's archive in the Scottish Opera collection.

Performance Cast

Simon Glover a glove-maker

Norman White

Catherine Glover Simon's daughter

Alexandra Gordon (Feb 19)

Helen Roy

Mab Queen of the Gypsies

Moyra Paterson

Henry Smith an armourer

Geoffrey Shovelton

Duke of Rothesay

Dennis O'Neill

Ralph Glover's apprentice

Malcolm Donnelly

Performance DatesJolie Fille de Perth 1972

Map List

Concert Hall, Troon | Troon

12 Jan, 19.30

Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline | Dunfermline

18 Jan, 19.30

Ryan Centre | Stranraer, Wigtownshire

20 Jan, 19.30

Georgian Theatre Royal | Richmond, North Yorkshire

29 Jan, 19.30

Marlowe Theatre | Canterbury

19 Feb, 19.30

Festival Theatre, Malvern | Malvern, Worcestershire

24 Feb, 19.30

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