Opera Scotland

Faust 1958Dundee Operatic Society

Read more about the opera Faust

The physically imposing Scot David Ward was already recognised as one of the best British basses, and was gradually being given bigger roles by Sadler's Wells. He also took every opportunity to try out leading parts elsewhere - the year before he had sung in Nabucco with an amateur group in Edinburgh (under Alexander Gibson). Gwent Lewis was also on the payroll at Sadler's Wells and, like Ward, had already visited Scotland with that company. In addition, he had been a member of the team from Glyndebourne that performed at the first Edinburgh Festival.

What seems to have particularly pleased local people is the fact that the Dundee-based singers were able to hold their own in such august company. Mary Cairns, in particular, as Marguerite, seems to have had something of a triumph.

The lighter work that played alternate nights was Wild Grows the Heather, a musical derived from The Little Minister by J M Barrie. The week was not a financial success, with capacity at the Gaumont no higher than 65% compared with 80% the previous year. A decision was then taken for the Society to abandon the production of opera and concentrate on musicals, beginning in 1959 with a full week devoted to Carousel.

The justifications given for this decision cited an apparent decline in popularity of opera, clearly contradicted by the fact that the resumed viisits by Carl Rosa in 1955 and 1956, followed by Sadler's Wells subsequently, were achieving sold out houses. Others pointed out that the lighter work had met with little success either in London or Edinburgh. The Society seems to have considered the very local nature of the subject and source author might give it a greater success. This did niot materialise. What seems evident with benefit of hindsight is the naive choice of the Society's serious operas, Cav & Pag in 1957 followed by Faust in 1958. It seems perverse, given that these works had all featured in both Carl Rosa visits, and the audience for those particular works might therefore have been satisfied for the time being.

Cast details from the Courier.

Performance Cast

Faust a learned doctor

Gwent Lewis

Méphistophélès the devil

David Ward

Valentin Marguerite's brother

David Imrie

Wagner a student of Dr Faust

Ian Mortimer


Mary Cairns

Siébel a student of Dr Faust, in love with Marguerite

Mabel Lindsay

Marthe a neighbour

Doris Henderson

Performance DatesFaust 1958

Map List

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

10 Mar, 19.30 12 Mar, 19.30 14 Mar, 19.30

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