Opera Scotland

Elektra 1968Hamburg State Opera

Read more about the opera Elektra

Elektra had been added to the Festival schedule at quite a late stage, but the quality of the cast assembled speaks for itself.  The opening night featured the sole performance in Scotland by the illustrious Leonie Rysanek – she very rarely performed in Britain at all.

A number of the cast were Americans (Elektra, Klytämnestra and the Tutor). Franz Grundheber, here at the start of his great career, only returned to Edinburgh for a concert performance as the Dutchman more than forty years later, in 2009.


Opera at the 1968 Festivals

In 1968, the Edinburgh Festival followed its Stravinsky theme of the previous year by concentrating on two composers, Britten and Schubert. The result was a Festival full of memorable concerts and recitals. Perhaps the operatic side was slightly uncertain. Scottish Opera had recently been exploring Albert Herring (taking it to Florence on the company's first foreign tour in May) and now produced Peter Grimesfor the first time. The English Opera Group also brought the most recent of Britten's stage works, the three Parables for Church Performance. Schubert's operas have always been seen as a problem area of his output, with stagings extremely rare. Sadly, no full-scale presentation was attempted here, but the Festival did at least mount a memorable concert performance of Alfonso und Estrella, with largely Scottish forces.

The visiting company was again from Germany - a third season by the Hamburg State Opera, previously seen in 1952 and 1956. The original plans included the British premiere of Arden Must Die, Alexander Goehr's recent adaptation of the anonymous Elizabethan tragedy Arden of Feversham, as well as a Scottish premiere for Strauss's Arabella. In the event, due to the notorious technical restrictions imposed by the stage facilities of the antiquated King's Theatre, the only venue then available for opera, the Strauss novelty was quickly dropped, even before the programme was revealed. Though the Goehr was initially announced, along with Fliegende Holländer and Ariadne auf Naxos, by the time booking opened it had been substituted with Elektra - admittedly requiring a large orchestra, but with only one simple set.

Scottish Opera also made its first appearance on the Fringe.   In addition to its excellent Peter Grimes, it gave its first staging of a work by Monteverdi.   The brief comedy, Il ballo delle ingrate, was mounted as a late-night entertainment.

Performance DatesElektra 1968

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

29 Aug, 19.00 3 Sep, 19.00 6 Sep, 19.00

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