Opera Scotland

Gazza Ladra 1966Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Thieving Magpie

The Thieving Magpie is an excellent, dramatically involving, opera, rather different from the purely comic examples of Rossini's output generally seen in Scotland. It is semi-seria, in that the possibility of a tragic ending is only averted at the last moment - though, of course, the title gives the game away from the start. It was - still is - quite a rarity, here receiving its first British staging in well over a century. Indeed the score was specially reconstructed from sources in the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale, and the work received its first performance at Sadler's Wells on 27 January 1966.

Cast details are taken from programmes in the OperaScotland archive (for 8 April in Glasgow), Aberdeen City Library; and Edinburgh City Library for the spring tour, Aberdeen alone for the autumn.


The spring 1966 tour by Sadler's Wells took three weeks, visiting Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow. The programme for the first week, commencing 21 March, was as follows: Mon Flying Dutchman; Tue Marriage of Figaro; Wed Hansel and Gretel; Thu Flying Dutchman; Fri Thieving Magpie; Sat mat Hansel and Gretel; Sat eve Marriage of Figaro. The schedule in the other two cities was identical, with the single exception that in Glasgow, where it had been shown the previous November, Figaro was replaced by The Barber of Seville.

In the autumn, the company returned on 19 September, again for three weeks, with the tour order reversed - Glasgow, Aberdeen, then Edinburgh. The schedule, identical in each city, was Mon Così fan tutte; Tue Thieving Magpie; Wed Madam Butterfly; Thu Samson and Delilah; Fri Bluebeard; Sat mat Bluebeard; Sat eve Madam Butterfly. Rossini's almost unknown piece was therefore given a second viewing, with a few cast changes.

Performance Cast

Pippo a young peasant in Fabrizio's service

Maureen Morelle

Lucia wife of Fabrizio

Ann Robson (Mar; Apr)

Laura Sarti (Sep; Oct)

Fabrizio Vingradito a prosperous farmer

Julian Moyle

Ninetta a servant in Fabrizio's household

Catherine Wilson

Isaaco a wandering pedlar

Stanley Bevan (Mar; Apr)

John Fryatt (Sep; Oct)

Giannetto a young soldier, son of Fabrizio and Lucia

Donald Pilley (Mar; Apr)

Louis Browne (Sep; Oct)

Fernando Villabella a soldier, Ninetta's father

Gerwyn Morgan

Gottardo the Mayor (Podestà)

Harold Blackburn

Giorgio servant to the Mayor

John Kitchiner (Mar; Apr)

James Singleton (Sep; Oct)

Antonio the gaoler

John Chorley (Mar; Apr)

John Delaney (Sep; Oct)


Graham Nicholls

Gregorio Clerk to the court

Douglas Stark

Ernesto a soldier, friend of Fernando

Peter Tracey

Voice of the Magpie

Jean Manning

Performance DatesGazza Ladra 1966

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

25 Mar, 19.00 4 Oct, 19.00

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

1 Apr, 19.00 27 Sep, 19.00

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Apr, 19.00 20 Sep, 19.00

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