Opera Scotland

Carmen 1963Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Carmen

The Sadler's Wells company came to Scotland for a single week commencing 18 February at the Glasgow Empire. The programme schedule was: Mon Carmen; Tue Cav & Pag; Wed Traviata; Thu Girl of the Golden West; Fri Carmen; Sat mat & eve Mikado.

They returned in the autumn for a full three week tour, starting 4 November in Edinburgh, moving to Aberdeen on 11 November, then to the Glasgow King's. The schedule at Edinburgh King's was: Mon Magic Flute; Tue Don Pasquale; Wed Carmen; Thu Magic Flute; Fri Cav & Pag; Sat mat & eve Belle Hélène. The two later venues saw the same operas, though the order on the first three evenings changed.

Carmen was Joyce Blackham's signature role, which she sang all over the world, The rest of this cast is rather good, too. Australian Donald Smith spent several seasons with the company. Raimund Herincx (who sang in both spring and autumn runs) and Ava June remained leading members, appearing throughout their careers.


Sadler's Wells Opera in Scotland - 1963.

The first Scottish visit consisted of a single week in February at the Glasgow Empire.  The company returned for three weeks in November, one each at Edinburgh (King's), Aberdeen (His Majesty's) and Glsgow (King's).

The nine operas performed were by Mozart (Magic Flute); Donizetti (Don Pasquale);  Verdi (Traviata); Offenbach (Belle Hélène);  Bizet (Carmen);  Sullivan (Mikado);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (       Girl of the Golden West); Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana).

The Scottish tour schedule was as follows:

Glasgow, w/c 19 February:  Mon 18 Carmen;  Tue 19 Cav & Pag;   Wed 20 Traviata;  Thu 21 Girl of the Golden West;  Fri 22 Carmen;  Sat 23 m Mikado;  Sat 23 e Mikado.

Edinburgh, w/c 4 November:  Mon 4 Magic Flute;  Tue 5 Don Pasquale;  Wed 6 Carmen;  Thu 7 Magic Flute;  Fri 8 Cav & Pag;   Sat 9 m Belle Hélène;  Sat 9 e Belle Hélène

Aberdeen,  w/c 11 November:  Mon 11 Magic Flute;  Tue 12 Carmen;  Wed 13 Don Pasquale;  Thu 14 Cav & Pag; Fri 15 Magic Flute;  Sat 16 m Belle Hélène;  Sat 16 e Belle Hélène.

Glasgow, w/c 18 November: Mon 18 Don Pasquale;  Tue 19 Magic Flute;  Wed 20 Carmen;  Thu 21 Magic Flute;  Fri 22 Cav & Pag;  Sat 23 m Belle Hélène;  Sat 23 e Belle Hélène.

Production and cast details are from programmes in the NLS and Aberdeen City Library for 6 and 12 November, respectively.

The six leading roles of the February cast are from the Glasgow Herald. The review of 18 February, the opening night of the week, was in some respects tentative. However Joyce Blackham, Rita Hunter and Ann Robson were on fierily dramatic form. Young Elizabeth Robson, by contrast, was 'sincere, appealing and vocally pleasing.'

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Kenneth Fawcett

Micaëla a peasant girl

Elizabeth Robson (Feb 18)

Ava June (Nov 6, 12)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Jon Andrew (Feb 18)

Donald Smith (Nov 6, 12)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Lawrence Folley

Carmen a gypsy

Joyce Blackham (Feb 18; Nov 6, 12)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Rita Hunter (Feb 18)

Joan Davies (Nov 6, 12)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Ann Robson (Feb 18)

Barbara Rendell (Nov 6, 12)

Lillas Pastia an innkeeper

Leigh Maurice

Escamillo a toreador

Raimund Herincx (Feb 18; Nov 6, 12)

Dancaïre a smuggler

Julian Moyle

Remendado a smuggler

Stanley Bevan


Henry Whimpanny


Janet Sedgefield

Christina Bray

Performance DatesCarmen 1963

Map List

Empire Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

18 Feb, 00.00 22 Feb, 00.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

6 Nov, 19.00

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

12 Nov, 19.30

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

20 Nov, 19.00

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