Opera Scotland

Queen of Spades 1998Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Queen of Spades

The 1997-98 season for Scottish Opera started with the brilliant idea of another look at the original 1912 concept of Ariadne auf Naxos. That version started with the performance of an abbreviated text of Molière's comedy Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. This was seen at an early Edinburgh Festival in 1950, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, but had not been seen in Scotland since. The new production, which played at the 1997 Edinburgh Festival, was a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse. The conventional revision, with prologue, followed as part of the main season.

That season started with a long Opera-Go-Round tour of The Barber of Seville. This was followed by eight main stage productions: Norma, Rigoletto, Peter Grimes, Tosca, Così fan tutte, Ariadne auf Naxos, The Queen of Spades and La traviata. In addition there were concert performances of Handel's Samson and three performances of a double bill of Param Vir's Snatched by the Gods and Broken Strings.

This was Scottish Opera’s first attempt at staging the difficult late masterpiece by Tchaikovsky, and a decision was taken to sing it in Russian, allowing a cast to be recruited with several of Slavonic origin. However, while they were all perfectly competent, none of them really had the necessary star quality to justify this policy - perhaps Jadwiga Rappé came closest. This contrasted with the company's only previous attempt at the language when they had revived the excellent Pountney production of Eugene Onegin for the return of Sergei Leiferkus.

The most rewarding feature was the sense of commitment from chorus and, especially, orchestra. This was the kind of meaty, dramatic score at which Richard Armstrong excelled, and he had done a very successful Onegin in Wales several years before, when Thomas Allen and Josephine Barstow had been directed by Andrei Serban.

On this occasion, the entire staging lacked focus, and the sense of drama required was almost entirely absent. It was never revived.

Performance DatesQueen of Spades 1998

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

5 May, 19.15 9 May, 19.15 12 May, 19.15 28 May, 19.15 3 Jun, 19.15

Empire Theatre, Sunderland | Sunderland

9 Jun, 19.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

17 Jun, 19.15 19 Jun, 19.15

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