Opera Scotland

Fledermaus 1975Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Fledermaus

After the success in 1973 of its first Viennese operetta, The Merry Widow, it was always likely that Scottish Opera would quickly move on to Fledermaus. The safe decision would have been to give the production to the same well-tried team of Anthony Besch and John Stoddart. However David Pountney and David Fielding did an excellent job, using a basic set consisting of a white iron conservatory which was ideal for the party act and framed any other changes of scene very effectively.

The three city tour in September (in repertoire with Hermiston and Don Giovanni) meant the staging was in fine fettle and became the perfect vehicle for celebrating the re-opening of the Theatre Royal. Further subscription performances followed straddling Christmas and New Year. These were mingled with an equally appropriate seasonal contribution by Scottish Ballet in the form of The Nutcracker. It is a pity that such collaborations did not become standard practice.

Catherine Wilson and David Hillman had extensive experience of their roles with Sadler's Wells, and were always comfortable with the dialogue, though learning a new translation must have been more of a challenge, particularly since Rosalinde now sang her czárdás in Hungarian. Pat Hay, Michael Maurel and Richard Greager were also adept at finding the right style for operetta. Thomas Hemsley's Falke displayed a shaven head to give him a distinctly Prussian air, and Ann Murray made a wonderfully effete young Orlofsky. John Lawson Graham was able to draw on his experience of working in Glasgow pantomimes to excellent purpose as Frosch.

The programme cover for the June week highlights the fact that Fledermaus played in rep with the final outings of Ian Watt-Smith's lively Barber production, which now boasted Ian Wallace as Bartolo and Patricia Kern as Rosina.

The autumn of 1975 saw the long-awaited revival of Glasgow's Theatre Royal, restored after its its twenty-year use as a TV studio. This Fledermaus production made an ideal entertainment for opening night on Tuesday, 14 October 1975. The historic event was televised live by the theatre's erstwhile owners, STV, whose history of enlightened generosity to the arts in those days is now a distant memory. The party scene included turns by four of the company's favourite guest artists, Patricia Kern, Charles Craig, Peter Glossop and David Ward. The whole event went with a swing.

The subscription season 1975-76 contained ten operas in total, played in sequence. The gala Fledermaus was followed by short runs of Otello, Hermiston, Ariadne on Naxos, Così fan tutte, The Golden Cockerel, Die Fledermaus, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly and Falstaff. The Otello had been seen regularly since 1963, the Falstaff only once before, in 1966. Fledermaus had been launched during the summer while Hermiston had been premiered at the recent Edinburgh Festival - both were previously unseen in Glasgow. The only productions that were brand new were Ariadne and Rimsky-Korsakov's Golden Cockerel, unseen in Scotland for half a century, and only occasionally since then at Covent Garden. It proved to be an exotic delight.

An enterprising innovation, for Scottish Opera's subscription seasons at the Theatre Royal, was the introduction (perhaps more accurately re-introduction) of the old idea of a programme that was simply a free sheet with essential data - cast information and synopsis. Biographical details and learned essays appeared in a Yearbook that covered the whole season. This arrangement lasted for only a few years before economic practicalities dictated the restoration of advertising. The eventual return to a separate programme for each production was also more suited to occasional opera-goers rather than subscribers.

Performance Cast

Alfred an Italian tenor and admirer of Rosalinde

Richard Greager

Adele the Eisensteins' maid

Patricia Hay

Rosalinde wife of Eisenstein

Catherine Wilson

Gabriel von Eisenstein

David Hillman

Blind Eisenstein's lawyer

David Fieldsend

Falke a notary and friend of Eisenstein

Thomas Hemsley (Exc Jun 26, 28)

Malcolm Donnelly (June 26, 28)

Frank prison governor

Michael Maurel (Jun)

Lawrence Richard (Exc Jun)

Orlofsky a rich young Russian prince

Ann Murray

Ida Adele's sister

Morag MacKay

Frosch prison warder

John Lawson Graham

Performance DatesFledermaus 1975

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

14 Jun, 19.15 17 Jun, 19.15 19 Jun, 19.15 21 Jun, 19.15 26 Jun, 19.15 28 Jun, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

9 Sep, 19.30 12 Sep, 19.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

16 Sep, 19.30 19 Sep, 19.30

Grand Theatre, Leeds | Leeds

23 Sep, 19.30 26 Sep, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

14 Oct, 19.15 24 Dec, 19.15 27 Dec, 19.30 30 Dec, 19.15 1 Jan, 19.15 3 Jan, 14.15

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2022

Site by SiteBuddha