Opera Scotland

Aïda 1953Covent Garden Opera

Read more about the opera Aïda

The tiny role of the offstage Priestess in Act 2 counts as Joan Sutherland's debut role in Scotland - though later in the week she added both Countess Almaviva and (as a stand-in) Amelia in Masked Ball. The production, with several of the same singers, had been seen in Glasgow the previous year.

On both occasions it was conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, now working in Manchester with the Hallé. He soon after stopped conducting live opera, though he made recordings of Butterfly and Otello shortly before his death in 1970. Tristan later in the week was his operatic farewell to Scotland.


Covent Garden Opera in Scotland - 1953

Cast details are from a programme in Edinburgh City Library's Edinburgh Room collection.

The Covent Garden company's week at the Edinburgh Empire (which is now the Festival Theatre)  consisted of seven performances of six operas in this order:

Week commencing Monday, 23 February:  Mon 23 Aïda;  Tue 24  Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 25  Tristan and Isolde;  Thu 26 Bohème;  Fri 27 Masked Ball;  Sat 28 m Bohème; Sat 28 e Trovatore.

Performance Cast

Ramfis High Priest

Marian Nowakowski

Radamès Captain of the Guard

James Johnston

Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt

Constance Shacklock

Aïda an Ethiopian slave

Hilde Zadek

King of Egypt

Michael Langdon


Hector Thomas


Joan Sutherland

Amonasro King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda

William Edwards


Judy Laraman

Performance DatesAïda 1953

Map List

Empire Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

23 Feb, 19.00

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