Opera Scotland

Duke Bluebeard's Castle 1963Hungarian State Opera, Budapest

Read more about the opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle

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.

This production of Bartók's one-act piece seems to have largely escaped attention, perhaps because the evening was dominated by the two Bartók ballets that followed it in the programme.  The Wooden Prince was every bit as unknown, and if The Miraculous Mandarin had been heard before in concert, it was not exactly a frequent visitor.   Both ballets were choreographed by Gyula Harangozó, the Mandarin staging dating back to 1945.

In any event, this evening was deemed to be ballet, and was therefore mounted at the Empire Theatre, where opera lovers may have struggled to find it.  The four performances also clashed with the Britten visit at the King's.  The staging of Bluebeard was in a generally abstract style, with minimal scenery, and the opening of each door represented by a change of lighting.

The conductor János Ferencsík had been the company's music director for many years, and was therefore an appropriate maestro to teach these difficult pieces to the Scottish National Orchestra, in the pit for the occasion. When the company returned to Edinburgh in 1973, they brought their own orchestra, but only one of the ballets (a new staging of Mandarin) to partner the opera, which they performed at the King's.

Any cast variations to be confirmed.


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 4 Luisa Miller; Thu 5 Don Pasquale; Fri 6 Adriana Lecouvreur; Sat 7 Don Pasquale.

Performance Cast

Duke Bluebeard

András Faragó

Judith Bluebeard's new wife

Olga Szönyi

Performance DatesDuke Bluebeard's Castle 1963

Map List

Empire Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

19 Aug, 19.30 20 Aug, 19.30 21 Aug, 19.30 23 Aug, 19.30

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