Opera Scotland

Rape of Lucretia 1963English Opera Group

Read more about the opera Rape of Lucretia

The main operatic event of the 1963 Edinburgh Festival was the only visit of the San Carlo company from Naples, with several recognized star performers. Like Britten's English Opera Group, who seemed to appear almost annually at this time, they performed in the cramped and technically out-dated King's Theatre, traditionally the Festival's home for opera.

The Hungarian staging of Bartók's one-act Duke Bluebeard's Castle seems to have largely escaped attention, perhaps because the evening was dominated by the two Bartók ballets that followed it in the programme. By being treated essentially as a ballet event, it was performed at the larger Empire Theatre, only occasionally made available to the Festival for dance programmes. It also clashed with four of the Britten performances.

The English Opera Group followed the success of the previous year’s Turn of the Screw by bringing two new and contrasting productions to the 1963 Festival,  Lucretia and Beggar’s Opera.  Lucretia was still seen to be a difficult piece due to the stilted libretto of Ronald Duncan, which seems nowadays to be accepted more on its own terms.

It is perhaps strange, with hindsight, to see that Janet Baker was not yet cast as Lucretia (she was singing Polly in the other piece).  Kerstin Meyer was now an international star, though still based in Stockholm.   It is striking to see her performing at ease in what was a little-known work, surrounded by an otherwise entirely British cast.   Peter Glossop was at this stage switching from Sadler's Wells to his future international career, which would be based on Covent Garden, where other Britten roles would soon include Billy Budd.


Opera at the Edinburgh Festival - 1963

The six operas performed at the Festival were:  Gay/Pepusch (Beggar's Opera);  Donizetti  (Don Pasquale);  Verdi (Luisa Miller);  Cilea (Adriana Lecouvreur);  Bartók (Duke Bluebeard's Castle);   Britten (Rape of Lucretia).

The Festival's opera schedule was:

First week, commencing 19 August: Mon 19 Rape of Lucretia & Duke Bluebeard's Castle; Tue 20 Beggar's Opera & Bluebeard; Wed 21 Lucretia & Bluebeard; Thu 22 Beggar's Opera; Fri 23 Lucretia & Bluebeard; Sat 24 Beggar's Opera.

Second week, commencing 26 August: Mon 26 Luisa Miller; Tue 27 Adriana Lecouvreur; Wed 28 Luisa Miller; Thu 29 Don Pasquale; Fri 30 Adriana Lecouvreur; Sat 31 Luisa Miller.

Third week, commencing 2 Sep: Mon 2 Adriana Lecouvreur; Tue 3 Don Pasquale; Wed 3 Luisa Miller; Thu 4 Don Pasquale; Fri 5 Adriana Lecouvreur; Sat 6 Don Pasquale.

Performance Cast

Male Chorus

Ronald Dowd

Female Chorus

Sylvia Fisher

Collatinus a Roman General

Forbes Robinson

Junius a Roman General

John Shirley-Quirk

Tarquinius a Prince, son of King Tarquinius Superbus

Peter Glossop

Lucretia wife of Collatinus

Kerstin Meyer

Bianca Lucretia's nurse

Helen Watts

Lucia Lucretia's maid

Elizabeth Vaughan

Performance DatesRape of Lucretia 1963

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

19 Aug, 19.00 21 Aug, 19.00 23 Aug, 19.00

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