Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1960Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

For so many decades this was by far the most popular of Wagner's operas in Britain,  performed frequently by  Carl Rosa,  Moody-Manners,  O'Mara and other companies.  This new Sadler's Wells production by Anthony Besch,  with choreography by Peter Darrell,  was given three performances in Scotland in spring 1960 and a further pair in autumn 1961.  Since then, the work has completely disappeared, at least as far as professional performance is concerned.   Casting the title role is generally thought very difficult nowadays - Ronald Dowd must have been near perfect.

While the cast was clearly making use of the cream of the company's soloists, with benefit of hindsight it is possible to be particularly dazzled by the appearance of two astonishing young talents, in Alberto Remedios and (Sir) Donald McIntyre.

The edition used was a hybrid of the two scores available.  The original Dresden version was used for the Venusberg scene in the first act, so the use of ballet was reduced (Sadler's Wells not having at its disposal a full ballet company).  The revised Paris text was used for the rest of the performance.


Sadler's Wells Opera's Scottish Tours - 1960

Sadler's Wells Opera made two visits in 1960.  In spring there were three weeks - Edinburgh (King's) followed by Aberdeen (His Majesty's) and Glasgow (Empire).  In October a week in Glasgow (Empire) was followed by a week in Dundee (Gaumont).

The ten operas performed on thess tours were:  Mozart (Don Giovanni);  Rossini (Barber of Seville,  Cinderella);  Wagner (Tannhäuser);  J Strauss (Fledermaus);  Puccini (Bohème,  Madam Butterfly);  Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel);  Giordano (Andrea Chénier);  German (Merrie England).

Edinburgh, w/c 29 February:  Mon 29 Fledermaus;  Tue 1 Mar Cinderella;  Wed 2 Tannhäuser;  Thu 3 Don Giovanni;  Fri 4 Cinderella;  Sat 5 m Fledermaus;  Sat 5 e Bohème.

Aberdeen, w/c 7 March:  Mon 7 Fledermaus;  Tue 8 Don Giovanni;  Wed 9 Cinderella;  Thu 10 Bohème;  Fri 11 Tannhäuser;  Sat 12 m Fledermaus;  Sat 12 e Cinderella.

Glasgow, w/c 14 March:  Mon 14 Cinderella;  Tue 15 Tannhäuser;  Wed 16 Bohème;  Thu 17 Fledermaus;  Fri 18 Don Giovanni;  Sat 19 m Fledermaus;  Sat 19 e Cinderella.

Glasgow, w/c 17 October:  Mon 17 Barber of Seville;  Tue 18 Andrea Chénier;  Wed 19 Merrie England;  Thu 20 Barber of Seville;  Fri 21 Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 22 m Merrie England;  Sat 22 e Madam Butterfly.

Dundee, w/c 24 October:  Mon 24 Merrie England;  Tue 25 Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 26 Barber of Seville;  Thu 27 Madam Butterfly;  Fri 28 Andrea Chénier;  Sat 29 m Barber of Seville;  Sat 29 e Merrie England.

Cast details are from programmes in Edinburgh City Library and the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

Performance Cast


Joan Stuart (Mar 2, 15)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

Ronald Dowd (Mar 2, 15)

Shepherd boy

Iris Kells (Mar 2, 15)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

John Lawrenson (Mar 2, 15)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

Stanislav Pieczora (Mar 2, 15)

Walther von der Vogelweide a knight and minnesinger

Joseph Powell (Mar 2)

Alberto Remedios (Mar 15)

Heinrich der Schreiber a knight and minnesinger

Tom Swift (Mar 2, 15)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

Donald McIntyre (Mar 2, 15)

Reinmar von Zweter a knight and minnesinger

Leon Greene (Mar 2, 15)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Rosina Raisbeck (Mar 2, 15)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1960

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

2 Mar, 19.00

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

11 Mar, 19.00

Empire Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

15 Mar, 19.00

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