Opera Scotland

Fliegende Holländer 1968Hamburg State Opera

Read more about the opera Flying Dutchman

The late Wieland Wagner’s production was clearly not designed for a small stage like that of the King’s Theatre. Charles Mackerras, the company's principal conductor, was unable to appear at all. Hans Sotin was ill on the opening night, so David Ward flew home to save that performance. Anja Silja, a great singing actress even then, was not in her most comfortable voice, and Richard Cassilly had already been forced to miss two performances of Scottish Opera’s Peter Grimes because of ill-health. It was a difficult time. The Hamburg company did return to Edinburgh (to both the King’s and the Playhouse), but their next Wagner performance in 2009 would be a concert in the Usher Hall – again of the Dutchman.


Opera at the 1968 Festivals

In 1968, the Edinburgh Festival followed its Stravinsky theme of the previous year by concentrating on two composers, Britten and Schubert. The result was a Festival full of memorable concerts and recitals. Perhaps the operatic side was slightly uncertain. Scottish Opera had recently been exploring Albert Herring (taking it to Florence in May) and now produced Peter Grimes for the first time. The English Opera Group also brought the most recent of Britten's stage works, the three Parables for Church Performance. Schubert's operas have always been seen as a problem area of his output, with stagings extremely rare. Sadly, no full-scale presentation was attempted here, but the Festival did at least mount a memorable concert performance of Alfonso und Estrella.

The visiting company was again from Germany - a third season by the Hamburg State Opera, previously seen in 1952 and 1956. The original plans included the British premiere of Arden Must Die, Alexander Goehr's recent adaptation of the anonymous Elizabethan tragedy Arden of Feversham, as well as a Scottish premiere for Strauss's Arabella. In the event, due to the notorious technical restrictions imposed by the stage facilities of the antiquated King's Theatre, the only venue then available for opera, the Strauss novelty was quickly dropped, even before the programme was announced. Though the Goehr was initially announced, along with Fliegende Holländer and Ariadne auf Naxos, by the time booking opened it had been substituted with Elektra - admittedly requiring a large orchestra, but with only one set.

Scottish Opera also made its first appearance on the Fringe.   In addition to its excellent Peter Grimes, it gave its first staging of a work by Monteverdi.   The brief comedy, Il ballo delle ingrate, was mounted as a late-night entertainment.

Performance Cast

Daland a Norwegian sea captain

Ernst Wiemann


Gerhard Unger


David Ward (Aug 31)

Hans Sotin (Exc Aug 31)

Mary Daland's housekeeper, once Senta's nurse

Ursula Boese

Senta Daland's daughter

Anja Silja

Erik a huntsman

Richard Cassilly

Performance DatesFliegende Holländer 1968

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

31 Aug, 19.30 2 Sep, 19.30 5 Sep, 19.30

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