Opera Scotland

Consul 1957South African Music Group

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Given his links to the city going back between the wars, it is hardly surprising that Dr Erik Chisholm included Glasgow as well as London on the tour schedule for his South African Music Group - in London they were billed as the Cape Town  University Opera Company. What must have been astonishing was the choice of repertoire. Chisholm had been in Cape Town since 1945 and had revitalised the musical life of the city. As Dean of the Faculty of Music he had already mounted some very unexpected works.

The London season included six varied recital programmes at the Wigmore Hall, followed by two operatic evenings at the intimate Rudolf Steiner Theatre. This repertoire was repeated in Glasgow, with recitals in the McLellan Galleries, and operas, originally announced for the Athenaeum, eventually turning up at the Lyric Theatre.

The varied concert presentations included much from the central classical repertoire, but also works by Hindemith, Bartók and even Janáček (Diary of a Man Who Disappeared and Rikadla).  The two operatic programmes were firstly The Consul by Menotti and secondly a double-bill, Chisholm's own opera The Inland Woman, and what was the British stage premiere of Duke Bluebeard's Castle by Bartók - a composer who Chisholm had actually brought to Glasgow some years before the war.

Menotti's powerful music drama of 1950 had reached London the following year, but this was its first performance in Scotland. It was perhaps unfortunate that the touring party did not include the pit band from Cape Town, as the orchestra was limited to fifteen in number and they were freelancers. Rehearsal time must have been limited, and the critical reception in both cities made it clear that the impact of the Menotti suffered as a result - though nothing like as badly as Duke Bluebeard's Castle, which really does need a large orchestra to make its full effect.

The much appreviated cast details are from newspaper reviews - no copies of the programme have yet been traced.

Performance Cast

John Sorel an activist

Gregorio Fiasconaro

Magda Sorel John's wife

Desirée Talbot

Mother of Magda

Theresia Bester

Secretary at the Consulate

Norma Nash-Webber

Performance DatesConsul 1957

Map List

Lyric Theatre | Glasgow

29 Jan, 20.00

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