Opera Scotland

Belle Hélène 1963Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Belle Hélène

This three-week Scottish tour started in Edinburgh on 4 November, followed by weeks in Aberdeen and Glasgow. The schedule for the Aberdeen week was: Mon Magic Flute; Tue Carmen; Wed Don Pasquale; Thu Magic Flute; Fri Cav & Pag; Sat mat & eve Belle Hélène. At the other two venues the order changed slightly over the first three days, but the content was the same, and the Offenbach was always given two performances on the Saturday.

La belle Hélène was one of a series of Offenbach works that Sadler's Wells produced in the early sixties, opening at Sadler's Wells on 31 May 1963. Orpheus in the Underworld stayed in the repertoire the longest, well into the seventies. This staging, however, constantly revived over a short period, and successfully recorded, was almost as successful, though it did not survive the company's move to the London Coiiseum. The brightly coloured sets and costumes were designed for a more intimate environment than the wide open spaces of the huge West End venue. It was always popular at the more suitable touring venues.


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.


Cast details are from a programme for the Glasgow performances in the OperaScotland collection. With the exception of the conductor, the principals here are as for the London opening.

Performance Cast

Calchas High Priest of Jupiter

Derek Hammond Stroud

Philocomus Chaplain to Calchas

Gwilym Jones

Euthycles a blacksmith

Charles Draper

Hélène Queen of Sparta

Joyce Blackham

Oreste son of Agamemnon

Mary Gilmore

Paris son of King Priam

Kevin Miller

Ajax I King of Salamis

Lawrence Folley

Ajax II King of the Locrians

Stanley Bevan

Achille King of Phtiotidos

John Carolan

Ménélas King of Sparta

John Fryatt

Agamemnon King of Kings

John Heddle Nash

Daphne Helen's maid

Joan Davies

Chloé a woman of the town

Christina Bray

Jocanthis a woman of the town

Joan Smalley

Anthea a woman of the town

Elizabeth Howarth

Phantis a woman of the town

Catherine Leskie

Performance DatesBelle Hélène 1963

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

9 Nov, 14.30 9 Nov, 19.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

16 Nov, 14.30 16 Nov, 19.30

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

23 Nov, 14.00 23 Nov, 19.00

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