Opera Scotland

Confessions of a Justified Sinner 1976Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Confessions of a Justified Sinner

Scottish Opera's second Theatre Royal subscription season (1976-77) again consisted of ten varied operas. It opened with a revival of the successful Ebert staging of La bohème. This was followed by Confessions of a Justified Sinner (new in the summer), The Magic Flute, Don Pasquale, Macbeth, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, The Merry Widow, Fidelio, The Rape of Lucretia and Jenůfa.

Opinions regarding the third of the operas commissioned in 1972 were clearly divided - those who knew and admired Hogg's original source seem in general to have found the operatic version impressively dramatic. The novel is highly effective, with a peculiarly Scottish twist on the then fashionable form of gothic horror, spiced with strange religious obsession. The novel was, and is, studied and much enjoyed at academic level, but was little-known to a general audience, even in Scotland.

As an opera, many simply found the subject matter too arcane to be of great interest in spite of the undoubtedly excellent quality of production and performance.

The decision was taken to launch this of all works at the triennial York Festival. Festival director Gavin Henderson had achieved a real coup in 1973 by bringing over two of the previous autumn's Wexford Festival productions. The excellent Kátya Kabanová was David Pountney's first production of a Janáček opera and marked another stage in the gathering popularity of this composer outside London. The other piece, Bellini's Il Pirata, was also very well done, though the opera has since returned to relative obscurity. To follow that, a prestigious premiere must have seemed a good idea, and Scottish Opera, in making its first visit to York in 1974, had given a performance of Catiline which was well received only a few days after its Stirling premiere.

Whatever the views on the subject matter, or on the operatic treatment of it, of the high quality of performance there was no doubt. The achievement in bringing together a cast led by Philip Langridge, Thomas Hemsley and John Shirley-Quirk speaks for itself. To keep a new work in the repertoire for as many as thirteen performances also shows the confidence the company had in the piece. Surely this is the kind of work that should be revived from time to time to see how it stands up - but where would you get a trio of principals of that quality?

Performance Cast

Rev Wringhim the Sinner's mentor

Thomas Hemsley

Malcolm Donnelly

Mrs Colwan originally Dalcastle's wife, now in Wringhim's household

Linda Finnie

Sinner Robert Colwan or Wringhim, living in Wringhim's household

Philip Langridge

Barnet servant to Wringhim

Arthur Jackson

Laird of Dalcastle

Bruce Budd

Arabella Logan Dalcastle's 'housekeeper' (The Woman in White)

Lola Biagioni

George Colwan Dalcastle's elder son and the Sinner's brother

David Fieldsend


John Shirley-Quirk


Garrick Forbes

Young Man

Tano Rea


Michael Royle

Woman Accuser

Linda Ormiston

Performance DatesConfessions of a Justified Sinner 1976

Map List

Theatre Royal, York | York

15 Jun, 19.30 18 Jun, 19.30

Eden Court Theatre | Inverness

26 Jun, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

27 Jul, 19.30 30 Jul, 19.30

Grand Theatre, Leeds | Leeds

8 Sep, 19.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

15 Sep, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

21 Sep, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

20 Oct, 19.15 23 Oct, 19.15 26 Oct, 19.15 28 Oct, 19.15 30 Oct, 14.15

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