Opera Scotland

Aïda 1950Covent Garden Opera

Read more about the opera Aïda

The two-week visit to Edinburgh by the Covent Garden Opera began on Monday 17 April. Performances were at the Empire (now the Festival Theatre). While most of the repertoire was conventional, there were two definite novelties. Britten's Peter Grimes here received its Scottish premiere, as did a more recently premiere work, The Olympians, with music by Arthur Bliss to a libretto by J B Prestley.

The schedule of performances was:

First week, commencing 17 April: Mon Aïda; Tue tbc; Wed mat tbc; Wed eve Lohengrin; Thu La Traviata; Fri The Olympians; Sat mat tbc; Sat eve Marriage of Figaro.

Second week, commencing 23 April: Mon tbc; Tue Lohengrin; Wed mat tbc; Wed eve tbc; Thu tbc; Fri Peter Grimes; Sat mat tbc; Sat eve Madam Butterfly.

All performances were in English.

This cast shows that the Covent Garden company imported several non-British artists willing to sing in English - though Nowakowski was well-established as a British resident. Another example of Company spirit is illustrated by the fact that a notable artist of the stature of Australian soprano Rosina Raisbeck should be willing to sing the tiny part of the Priestess in addition to Flora Bervoix and even Ortrud, which she would undertake later in the week.

Dame Ninette de Valois was, of course, the head of the ballet company at Covent Garden. Her assistant, keeping the dancing in shape on a daily basis, was an even greater choreographer for the future, John Cranko.

Cast details for the opening night, Monday evening, 17 April, are from a programme in the OperaScotland collection.

Performance Cast

Ramfis High Priest

Howell Glynne

Radamès Captain of the Guard

Franz Lechleitner

Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt

Edith Coates

Aïda an Ethiopian slave

Doris Dorée

King of Egypt

Marian Nowakowski


Dennis Stephenson


Rosina Raisbeck

Amonasro King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda

Jess Walters

Performance DatesAïda 1950

Map List

Empire Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

17 Apr, 19.00

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