Opera Scotland

Rosenkavalier 1971Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Rosenkavalier

Scottish Opera's tour in Spring 1971 was one of its most extended and elaborate, stretching from 11 March to 12 June. There were two clear phases, the first took in Perth, Aberdeen, Newcastle and Liverpool, with the second embracing Glasgow, Edinburgh and a return to Aberdeen.

The Perth opening included the recent stagings of Magic Flute and Traviata, accompanied by the BBC SSO, with two Britten revivals, Albert Herring and Turn of the Screw. for which the pit was occupied by the Scottish Opera Chamber Ensemble. In Aberdeen the SNO joined up for the revival of the 1967 Rheingold staging, as preparation for the single Ring Cycle announced for December. In Glasgow, Albert Herring dropped out, and the season's two big new productions, Siegfried and Der Rosenkavalier, arrived.

The first run of this landmark production by Anthony Besch, in stylish designs by John Stoddart, quickly became the stuff of company legend. Alexander Gibson was always an expert at conducting Viennese programmes and everything sounded completely natural. Janet Baker had previously sung Dorabella and Dido with the company, and would return to them both, but these were the only performances of Octavian she gave anywhere. The role fitted her like a glove and the comedy was perfectly judged. The performances were sung in English translation. Helga Dernesch had already sung the Marschallin in German on the continent, but made the effort to restudy it in English just for these seven performances. Concurrently she was performing Brünnhilde in Siegfried as Scottish Opera built up its first Ring.

Other cast members included Elizabeth Harwood, whose plush, velvety tone made her an unusual Sophie. Much later in her career she also had a success as the Marschallin, this time at Glyndebourne. Judith Pierce made a hugely characterful duenna, returning to a role she had performed previously at Covent Garden.

There were two cast changes during the run. The most important concerned the final two evenings, at Aberdeen in June. The programme insert stated that Michael Langdon, who had never worked with Scottish Opera before, had agreed in March to sing these two nights, on condition that he could perform the familiar German text he had sung in most of the world’s great houses. By June, however, he had succeeded in committing to memory the first act translation. He would return for all future revivals of this production, which were in German, and also sang many other roles with the company.

At one performance, in Edinburgh, Thomas Hemsley was ill. Peter Lyon, his understudy, had been playing the silent role of Leopold. For this one performance, that role was played by Scottish Opera’s young staff producer, David Pountney.

The Animal Seller's dachshund was provided by Stage Manager Jamie Lawrie.

Performance Cast

Feldmarschallin Marie-Therese, Princess of Werdenberg (the Field-Marshal's wife)

Helga Dernesch

Octavian Count Rofrano

Janet Baker

Page to the Marschallin

Nicholas Korankye

First Footman

Ian Adam

Second Footman

Anton Elder

Third Footman

Kenneth Thomson

Fourth Footman

John Leishman

Ochs Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau

Noel Mangin (Exc Jun 8, 12)

Michael Langdon (Jun 8, 12)

Major- domo to the Marschallin

John Robertson

Noble Widow

Nancy Gottschalk

First Noble Orphan

Patricia Hay

Second Noble Orphan

Moyra Paterson

Third Noble Orphan

Claire Livingstone


Ann Baird

Animal Seller

Alexander Morrison


Tom Scratchley


Tano Rea


John Lawson Graham


John Austin

Valzacchi an intriguer

Nigel Douglas

Annina Valzacchi's accomplice

Joan Davies

Kitchen Boy

Andrew McRobb


David Ellis


Derek Blackwell

Flute Player

David Little

Leopold Baron Ochs' bastard son

Peter Lyon (Exc Jun 1)

David Pountney (Jun 1)

Faninal Herr von Faninal, a rich merchant

Thomas Hemsley (Exc Jun 1)

Peter Lyon (Jun 1)

Sophie Sophie von Faninal, his daughter

Elizabeth Harwood

Marianne Marianne Leitmetzerin, Sophie's duenna

Judith Pierce

Major-domo to Faninal

Clifford Hughes

Notary's Clerk

Andrew McRobb

First Follower in Baron Ochs' retinue

Ian Westrip

Second Follower

Iwan Guy

Third Follower

Anthony Feltham

Fourth Follower

Kenneth Thomson

Fifth Follower

John Leishman


Norman White


Alexander Morrison

First Waiter

David Ellis

Second Waiter

John Austin

Third Waiter

Iwan Guy

Fourth Waiter

Michael Lanchbery

Commissioner of Police

William McCue

Performance DatesRosenkavalier 1971

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

20 May, 18.30 22 May, 18.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

25 May, 18.30 1 Jun, 18.30 27 May, 18.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

8 Jun, 18.30 12 Jun, 18.30

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