Opera Scotland

Don Giovanni 1968Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Don Giovanni

On 21 August 1968 Sadler's Wells Opera moved from its traditional north London base and opened at its new home in the heart of London's West End. The Coliseum is a far larger auditorium - bigger even than Covent Garden, and many people doubted the wisdom of the move. Certainly the recent production of Mastersingers looked and sounded excellent in the new house. But the company had chosen to open with Mozart, and this new production of Don Giovanni was widely held to be disappointing, with several roles under-projected, and a general lack of drama on stage and in the pit.

For the tour, the conductor and title role baritone were replaced, along with the Elvira and Zerlina, whose London singers had been unavailable for the tour.

The controversy remained, driven largely by the designs of Derek Jarman. He later went on to become a highly respected director of visually arresting low-budget, art house cinema, with titles such as Sebastiane, Jubilee, Caravaggio and Edward II to his credit. His version of The Tempest was particularly noteworthy. He had already designed a ballet for Covent Garden (Frederick Ashton's Jazz Calendar). However this remained his only venture in opera, and his bright abstract sets and mixed period costumes were not universally admired. They would probably seem quite acceptable, if perhaps a touch conservative, today.

Sir John Gielgud had directed some operas before - Britten (A Midsummer Night's Dream) at Covent Garden and Massenet (Werther) at Glyndebourne - but never Mozart, and had admitted finding it difficult to balance the serious with the comic. The production seems by all accounts to have ended by falling between two stools.


Sadler's Wells Opera in Scotland - 1968

Only one Scottish venue for this three week visit - the King's Theatre in Glasgow.

The operas were Mozart (Don Giovanni);  Rossini (Italian Girl in Algiers);  Verdi (Rigoletto);  Offenbach (Belle Hélène); J Strauss (Fledermaus).

The performance schedule was:

Week One, w/c Mon 11 Nov:  Tue 12 Italian Girl;  Wed 13 Belle Hélène;  Thu 14 Don Giovann;  Fri 15 Italian Girl;  Sat 16 Belle Hélène.

Week Two, w/c Mon 18 Nov:  Mon 18 Fledermaus;  Tue 19 Rigoletto; Wed 20 Don Giovanni;  Thu 21 Italian Girl;  Fri 22 Fledermaus.

Week Three, w/c Mon 25 Nov;  Mon 25 Rigoletto;  Tue 26 Fledermaus;  Wed 27 Belle Hélène;  Thu 28 Rigoletto;  Fri 29 Don Giovanni;  Sat 30 Fledermaus.

Performance Cast

Leporello Giovanni's servant

Stafford Dean

Don Giovanni a young nobleman

Richard Van Allan

Donna Anna the Commendatore's daughter

Donna-Faye Carr

Commendatore an elderly aristocrat

Don Garrard

Don Ottavio engaged to Anna

Donald Pilley

Donna Elvira a lady from Burgos

Elizabeth Tippett

Zerlina a peasant girl

Wendy Baldwin

Masetto a peasant, engaged to Zerlina

Norman Welsby

Performance DatesDon Giovanni 1968

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

14 Nov, 19.30 20 Nov, 19.30 23 Nov, 19.30 29 Nov, 19.30

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