Opera Scotland

Orlando 1985Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Orlando

By 1985, the persistent absence of any opera by Handel from Scottish Opera's repertoire was a noticeable eccentricity.  Fortunately this enjoyably theatrical staging of Orlando was quite successful, and the composer has featured more frequently since, with stagings of Giulio Cesare (1992), Semele (2005) and Tamerlano (2006), as well as concert performances of Samson (1998).  Additional works now follow regularly, including a second, completely different, look at this opera.  His works nowadays also appear at the Edinburgh Festival with far greater frequency, either in staged or concert form.  However no single work, or staging, has yet become accepted into the repertoire in Scotland.

James Bowman had been a frequent visitor to Scotland in performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but he was also an expert at singing in early revivals of the old castrato roles of baroque opera, and gave a riveting performance of the mad scene.

Eiddwen Harrhy was recognised as an expert Handel performer, and had sung leading roles with Handel Opera Society and Welsh National (with whom she also sang Asteria in Tamerlano at the 1982 Festival).  Lillian Watson had a long career singing the light lyric soprano repertoire, working at Covent Garden for over twenty-five years.  In the second run of performances that autumn, the role of Dorinda was taken by Rosa Mannion, who went on to record the part with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants.

Richard Hickox managed to fit many visits to Scotland into his hyperactive career, but he usually conducted the SNO, both in the central belt and on tour.  Orlando was the first of two productions he did with Scottish Opera, and Handel was one of his early specialities.  Everything just seemed to flow naturally.

Christopher Fettes was an academic known as a specialist in French theatre of the baroque period, so opera was a new departure for him, and not one he pursued subsequently. This is a pity, because this staging, in attractive, almost neo-classical designs, and beautifully lit, showed a lively ability to interpret the obscurities of this particular plot, and was perhaps under-appreciated at the time by most of the critics, who were surprisingly cool in their reactions.

In its opening season the production was only shown in Glasgow, but later in the year, during the autumn part of 1985/86, it was seen during the touring programme.


Scottish Opera's Season - 1984/85

Scottish Opera's subscription season 1984-85 consisted of nine operas, including six new productions, one of which was a world premiere. They began with Cavalli's Orion, which received its UK premiere at the Edinburgh Festival before joining the season's repertoire. The other works given were Fidelio(revival), Rigoletto (revival), CapriccioBartered Bride (revival), Barbiere di SivigliaDon GiovanniOrlando and Hedda Gabler (Edward Harper world premiere).


Scottish Opera's Season - 1985/86

Scottish Opera's 1985/86 season consisted of ten operas. The company's new productions ranged through Mozart (The Marriage of Figaro), Weber (Oberon), Verdi (Il trovatore), Offenbach (La Vie parisienne) and Weill (The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny). The previous season's Orlando had further performances outside Glasgow, while the revivals were The Magic FluteWertherTosca and The Turn of the Screw.  For Christmas there was a revival of Fiddler on the Roof.  In the spring there was a medium-scale tour of Tales of Hoffmann. The small-scall Opera-Go-Round tour in the autumn took the form of a new (and very different) staging of Tosca.

Performance Cast

Orlando a knight in the service of Charlemagne

James Bowman

Angelica Queen of Cathay

Eiddwen Harrhy

Medoro an African Prince

Timothy Wilson

Dorinda a shepherdess

Lillian Watson (May)

Rosa Mannion (Nov, Dec)

Zoroastro a magician

Stephen Varcoe

Performance DatesOrlando 1985

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 May, 19.15 11 May, 19.15 14 May, 19.15 16 May, 19.15 18 May, 19.15 9 Nov, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

23 May, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

21 Nov, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

28 Nov, 19.30

Apollo Theatre | Oxford

11 Dec, 19.30

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2024

Site by SiteBuddha