Opera Scotland

Africaine 1965Glasgow Grand Opera Society

Read more about the opera Africaine

Back in 1955 Glasgow Grand had celebrated the centenary of one of the least known of Verdi's operas, The Sicilian Vespers.  Encouraged by the success of that enterprise, they here attempted a repeat, with the first local performance this century of a further rare example of archetypal French grand opera. Meyerbeer's final masterpiece had been launched, after his death, back in 1865.

The opera will always remain famous for Vasco's wonderful tenor aria 'O Paradis', centrepiece of the fourth act.  But from the intriguingly orchestrated overture on, this opera is packed with good things.

Following its centenary, several productions were given around the world,  including Florence (1971 conducted by Muti),  San Francisco (1973  Périsson) and Monte Carlo (1977  Albrecht).  Notable interpreters of Sélika included Jessye Norman, Shirley Verrett and Martina Arroyo, with Veriano Lucchetti, Plácido Domingo and Giorgio Lamberti tackling Vasco.

The Royal Opera Covent Garden took over the Florence staging in 1978.  The director was Franco Enriquez, conducted by Peter Maag.  The starry and highly successful cast included Plácido Domingo (Vasco),  Grace Bumbry (Sélika),  Margherita Rinaldi (Inès),  Silvano Carroli (Nélusko),  David Ward (Grand Inquisitor),  Willard White (Don Diego), Richard Van Allan (Don Pedro) and Raimund Herincx (High Priest).  A second run at the Royal Opera House a couple of seasons later featured Franco Bonisolli (Vasco) and Felicity Lott (Inès), conducted by David Atherton.

For the first time in many years, the Society had to do without the services of the Scottish National Orchestra, who were hard at work on rehearsals of Scottish Opera's formidable new staging of Boris Godunov, along with a new Butterfly and revived Don Giovanni.

As usual the Society alternated this rare work with four performances of a popular favourite, this time Verdi's Il Trovatore.

Performance Cast

Inès daughter of Don Diego

Rita McPhun

Anna Inès's waiting woman

Flora McAlpine

Don Diego Admiral of the Portuguese Fleet

Willis Hutton

Don Pédro President of the Council

Jack White

Usher of the Council

Allan Russell

Grand Inquisitor

Louis Stewart

Don Alvar a Councillor

William Syme

Vasco da Gama Navigator and Explorer

Harry Ireland

Sélika a Queen from the East Coast of Africa

Maureene McMahon

Nélusko one of Sélika's chieftains

James Kinloch

High Priest of Brahma

William Kinnis


James Veitch

Performance DatesAfricaine 1965

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

4 May, 19.15 6 May, 19.15 8 May, 19.15

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