Opera Scotland

Otello 1975Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Otello

The subscription season 1975-76 contained ten operas in total, played in sequence. The gala Fledermaus was followed by short runs of Otello, Hermiston, Ariadne on Naxos, Così fan tutte, The Golden Cockerel, Die Fledermaus, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly and Falstaff. The Otello had been seen regularly since 1963, the Falstaff only once before, in 1966. Fledermaus had been launched during the summer while Hermiston had been premiered at the recent Edinburgh Festival - both were previously unseen in Glasgow. The only productions that were brand new were Ariadne and Rimsky-Korsakov's Golden Cockerel, unseen in Scotland for half a century, and only occasionally since then at Covent Garden. It proved to be an exotic delight.

This vintage Otello was chosen to mark the renovation with the same blaze of sound that had launched the Scottish Opera Corus in 1963. Most of the singers were familiar regulars with the company, and, of those, only David Hillman was appearing in a new role.

The one newcomer, and a completely unknown quantity when the schedules for the subscription season were announced, was the lovely young Hungarian soprano Sylvia Sáss. This was her British debut, and she really did become a star overnight, since the role of Desdemona required a style of soft, expressive singing which suited her voice at the time. Harold Rosenthal, editor of Opera, described her as the best Desdemona he had heard since the young Tebaldi of twenty-five years earlier. Unfortunately, she did not return to Scottish Opera. and even more sadly, her brilliant international career proved to be brief, as an unwise choice of repertoire, including Lady Macbeth and Norma, soon inflicted damage on the beautiful natural voice.

The glorious aspects of the company performance also remained - Gibson's inspired conducting of chorus and orchestra, and Anthony Besch's sharply drilled movement on the simple Koltai set. The first act fight between Cassio and Montano was always effectively realistic, and the third act entry of Lodovico with the massed chorus still created a real thrill.

The first Theatre Royal season was a hugely impressive affair, running from October to February, with ten operas. The opening gala performance of Fledermaus was followed by the subscription programme - Otello, Ariadne on Naxos, Hermiston, Così fan tutte, The Golden Cockerel, Die Fledermaus, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly, and Falstaff.

Performance Cast

Montano predecessor of Otello in Cyprus

Norman White

Cassio Otello's lieutenant

David Hillman

Iago Otello's ensign

Peter Glossop

Roderigo a Venetian gentleman

John Robertson

Otello a Moorish general, Venetian Governor of Cyprus

Charles Craig

Desdemona Otello's wife

Sylvia Sáss

Emilia Iago's wife and Desdemona's companion

Claire Livingstone


Arthur Jackson

Lodovico envoy of the Venetian republic

William McCue

Performance DatesOtello 1975

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

15 Oct, 19.15 18 Oct, 19.15 21 Oct, 19.15 23 Oct, 19.15

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