Opera Scotland

Trovatore 1957Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Trovatore

Il trovatore does not seem to have been performed very often by Sadler's Wells at this time.  Evidence suggests they left it to the Carl Rosa company,  as well as Covent Garden and Italian visitors.  They concentrated instead on the other two indispensable middle-period Verdi masterpieces,  Rigoletto and, especially,  La traviata.

Still, here it is,  in Aberdeen,  though not in Dundee,  with a stalwart cast of company regulars.  Peter Glossop is just beginning to take on the major Verdi baritone parts that would be central to his international career.  A leading Australian performer,  Ronald Dowd,  was well cast in such heroic roles.  Victoria Elliott shared the big lyric  Verdi and Puccini parts with  Elizabeth Fretwell at this stage - happy the company with two such reliable artists.  Another Australian soprano,  Patricia Bartlett, was beginning to take on such roles.

Harold Blackburn had already kept this role in his repertoire for a decade.  Nevertheless, he was singing Ferrando at the Coliseum twenty years later,  still with his characteristically wonderful, effortless clarity of diction, so important in this part.  A second Scottish bass, David Ward, was also able to dominate the stage with ease.  The casting of Sheila Rex as Azucena may seem surprising,  but she was an excellent actress,  and though small in stature,  and often employed in character parts,  could always command the audience when required.  It is also noticeable that a future star of the company,  the soprano Ava June, is here emerging from her place in the chorus.


Sadler's Wells Opera on tour in Scotland -  1957

The four week tour of Scotland for once omitted Edinburgh, going to Aberdeen and Dundee instead.  Having been without professional opera since before the war, Dundee had received hugely successful visits by Carl Rosa in 1955 and 1956, so it was logical for the Wells to follow on, as they did annually with equal success until the theatre again became unavailable in 1961.  The repertoire in each city was similar but for Dundee not hearing Il trovatore (an extra Bohème instead) and Glasgow also getting Eugene Onegin and Puccini's Trittico.

The works performed were:  Mozart (Marriage of Figaro);  Flotow (Martha);  Verdi (TrovatoreTraviata);  Smetana (Bartered Bride);  Tchaikovsky (Eugene Onegin);  Puccini (BohèmeToscaTabarro,  Suor AngelicaGianni Schicchi).  

The tour schedule was as follows:

Aberdeen, w/c 1 April:  Mon 1  Traviata;  Tue 2  Tosca;  Wed 3  Martha;  Thu 4  Trovatore;  Fri 5  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 6 mat Bartered Bride;  Sat 6 eve  Bohème.

Dundee, w/c 8 April:  Mon 8  Traviata;  Tue 9  Bohème;  Wed 10  Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 11  Martha;  Fri 12  Tosca;  Sat 13 mat  Bohème;  Sat 3 eve  Bartered Bride.

Glasgow, w/c 15 April:  Mon 15  Trovatore;  Tue 16  Bohème;  Wed 17  Tosca;  Thu 18  Trovatore;  Fri 19  Martha;  Sat 20 Mat  Bartered Bride;  Sat 20 eve  Tosca

Glasgow, w/c 22 April:  Mon 22  Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 23  Martha;  Wed 24  Tabarro & Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi;  Thu 25  Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 26 Eugene Onegin;  Sat 27 mat  Traviata.;  Sat 27 eve Bartered Bride.

Cast details for 4 April are taken from a programme in Aberdeen City Library.  The opening night in Glasgow, 15 April, is from a programme in the OperaScotland collection.

Performance Cast

Ferrando captain of Di Luna's guard

Harold Blackburn (Apr 4)

David Ward (Apr 15)

Inez confidante of Leonora

Ava June (Apr 4)

Joan Clarkson (Apr 15)

Leonora a Duchess, lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon

Victoria Elliott (Apr 4)

Patricia Bartlett (Apr 15)

Count di Luna a young noble of Aragon

Peter Glossop (Apr 4, 15)

Manrico a chieftain under the Prince of Biscay

Ronald Dowd (Apr 4, 15)

Azucena a Biscayan gypsy woman

Sheila Rex (Apr 4)

Olwen Price (Apr 15)

Old Gypsy

William Davies (Apr 4, 15)


John Larsen (Apr 4, 15)

Ruiz a soldier in Manrico's service

Rhys Williams (Apr 4, 15)

Performance DatesTrovatore 1957

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

4 Apr, 19.30

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

15 Apr, 19.30 18 Apr, 19.30

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