Opera Scotland

Attila 1972Teatro Massimo, Palermo

Read more about the opera Attila

The Festival 's guest company in 1972 was the Teatro Massimo from Palermo. The quality of the productions and performances was mixed, and the reception by the critics was on the whole cool. While orchestra and chorus were not of the first rank, there was still lots to enjoy from the singers.

Three rarities from the Italian ottocento repertoire were presented. The Rossini was the first of his important Naples commissions, Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra, revived in Palermo a few months before. The Verdi was Attila. It was also essential that this company should feature a work by a Sicilian composer. Bellini was the obvious candidate, represented by La straniera.

It was unfortunate that the Verdi, in particular, was hampered by ill-health on the part of two of its leading soloists.  Back in 1969 when the Florence company had appeared, they brought so many singers that they clearly had covers for all roles in case of necessity.  Typically, none were needed.  It was unfortunate that the Sicilians were not so blessed.

This Verdi staging opened the visit with a group of star singers. Attila had been staged by Sadler’s Wells in the early 60s, but not toured to Scotland, and the Bellini and Rossini were almost totally unknown even in London.

Attila suffered from the fact that the sets had clearly been cut down to fit the King’s stage (not for nothing is the Palermo building called massimo), and the chorus had a tendency to stand around doing very little, in a way that was rarely seen with British companies. The staging was probably uninteresting even before those adjustments were made.

Rather more serious was the fact that two of the principals were noticeably out of voice. They perhaps found the switch from Palermo to Edinburgh had given them a chill. Bruno Prevedi did continue to sing – presumably tenors with Foresto in their repertoire were rare – but it was clear that he should have been back at the hotel and was only singing to save this second performance.  His singing was effortful andthe sounds he made were unreliable and sometimes unpleasant, certainly nothing like the lovely voice that the listeners, primed by his recordings, were expecting to hear.

Luisa Maragliano, a recent performer at the Verona Arena, and in her only British appearance, also had problems  but sang the opening night and missed the second performance - a cover was available. Unfortunately she was a bit rough and ready.  We don't know for sure who sang the third night, but assume that Maragliano was able to go on.

Two of the singers still made the performances well worth seeing. Ruggiero Raimondi had just made his recording of the opera, and was clearly the star attraction. He showed just why he was so ell regarded, even this early in his career.  A definite star performance.

Perhaps the surprise success was the then unknown baritone.  Renato Bruson revealed a superb voice and here made his British debut. He sang the role of Ezio in a quite stirring fashion.  Bruson quickly became a regular visitor to Covent Garden in the more familiar Verdi parts including Germont, Posa and Falstaff.  He was one of the best Verdi baritones of his generation.

Giuseppe Patanè led an enjoyably dramatic performance and the shorter solo roles were also well done.


Opera at the Edinburgh Festival - 1972

The Festival 's opening week contained Scottish Opera's 1969 staging of The Trojans, revived with Janet Baker as Dido and Helga Dernesch as Cassandra.

There was a guest company - an unfamiliar German team, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein from Düsseldorf and Duisberg.  They brought two highly contrasted pieces.  Die Soldaten, by the late Bernd Alois Zimmermann, was a large-scale modern piece of music theatre.  Their other work was a complete contrast - a very early example of opera, or perhaps staged oratorio, Emilio de' Cavalieri's Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo.

The second team of visitors was the Teatro Massimo from Palermo.  Three rarities from the Italian  ottocento repertoire were presented.  The Rossini was the recently-revived first of his important Naples commissions, Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra.  The Verdi was the early Attila.  It was also essential that this company should feature a work by a Sicilian composer.  The obvious candidate, Bellini, was represented by an unknown early work,  La straniera.

In sum, the operas were by Cavalieri (Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo);  Rossini (Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra);  Bellini (La straniera);  Berlioz (The Trojans);  Verdi (Attila); Zimmermann (Die Soldaten)

Among the concerts at the Usher Hall, Daniel Barenboim conducted the London Philharmonic in two performances of the Brahms German Requiem.  Mahler's vocal symphony Das Lied von der Erde was presented by the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan.

The opera schedule was as follows:

Week commencing 21 August:  Mon 21 Die Soldaten; Tue 22 Die Soldaten; Wed 23 np;  Thu 24 Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo & The Trojans;  25 Rappresentatione;  26 The Trojans.

Week commencing 28 August: Mon 28 Attila;  Tue 29 np;  Wed 30 Attila;  Thu 31 La straniera;  Fri 1 Sep Attila;  Sat 2 La straniera.

Week commencing 4 September: Mon 4 Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra;  Tue 5 La straniera;  Wed 6 The Trojans;  Thu 7 Elisabetta;  Fri 8 La straniera;  Sat 9 Elisabetta.

Performance Cast

Attila King of the Huns

Ruggero Raimondi

Ezio a Roman general

Renato Bruson

Odabella daughter of the Lord of Aquileia

Luisa Maragliano (Aug 28; Sep 1)

Maria Parazzini (Aug 30)

Foresto a knight of Aquileia

Bruno Prevedi

Uldino Attila's Breton slave

Umberto Scala

Leone Pope Leo I

Franco Pugliese

Performance DatesAttila 1972

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

28 Aug, 19.30 30 Aug, 19.30 1 Sep, 19.30

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