Opera Scotland

Freunde von Salamanka 1993Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Freunde von Salamanka

An excellent singing cast was assembled for the British premiere of this little-known early Schubert singspiel.   The casting of  three sopranos and three tenors was perhaps not the greatest idea of the composer, as the characters might easily be confused.  However these soloists all had nicely differentiated voices to emphasise their different characters.  

It is often the case that a linking narrative provided by an under-rehearsed actor can kill a show stone dead.  It is a risky way to keep the audience in touch with an unfamiliar plot.  So often the timing goes awry, with uncomfortable gaps between the end of a narration and continuance of a musical number.  On this occasion, wonderfully, Juliet Stevenson provided a drily amusing narration, beautifully timed, to replace the missing dialogue.


Opera at the 1993 Edinburgh Festival

The 1993 Festival saw an interesting concentration on Verdi operas, getting under way with Scottish Opera's first attempt at an early, pre-Macbeth, work in I due Foscari. The company's new musical director, Richard Armstrong, also returned at the end of the Festival with his former company, Welsh National, and their superb production of the final masterpiece, Falstaff. Between these, the Festival gave a concert performance, very well cast, of the first surviving opera, Oberto.

A second theme at this Festival was an attempt to juxtapose the works of two masters, Schubert and Janáček. Opera was, inevitably, a difficult area in which to achieve this, but a fascinating concert evening was compiled in the Usher Hall, combining Schubert's unstageable (no surviving dialogue) Die Freunde von Salamanka with Janáček's first opera, Šárka.

Performance Cast

Countess Olivia

Anne Dawson

Laura Olivia's companion

Rebecca Evans

Eusebia Olivia's companion

Alwyn Mellor

Don Alonso in love with Olivia

Rufus Müller

Diego in love with Laura

Christopher Ventris

Fidelio in love with Eusebia

Neal Davies

Count Tormes a fop, in love with Olivia

Richard Coxon

Alcade Laura's guardian

Peter Sidhom

First Robber

Neal Davies

Second Robber

Peter Sidhom

Manuel a grape-harvester

Jonathan Best

Performance DatesFreunde von Salamanka 1993

Map List

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

24 Aug, 19.30

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