Opera Scotland

Messiah 1974Dundee Choral Union

Read more about the opera Messiah

This performance of the familiar Christmas oratorio has several unusual features. It attracted an audience to the Caird Hall of 1800, significantly larger than the usual. The reason for this is clearly the presence of well-known bass Bill McCue. He sang major roles with Scottish Opera throughout his career, but had a second professional persona. For several years he fronted a series of musical programmes made in Aberdeen by Grampian Television. Under titles such as McCue's Music and It's a Fine Thing to Sing, they were hugely popular throughout Scotland and a live non-operatic appearance by him would be expected to fill the hall.

To appear at such a festive occasion before a big crowd must have been a thrill, coming so early in the careers of the other soloists.

Isobel Buchanan was soon after 'discovered' when she auditioned in London for Richard Bonynge. He and Joan Sutherland quickly took her to Sydney where her talent was carefully nurtured and developed. Before she returned to sing with Scottish Opera she had already appeared opposite Domingo in Vienna and Bergonzi in Chicago, as well as Glyndebourne, Covent Garden and elsewhere.

By contrast, Linda Finnie joined the chorus of Scottish Opera for a couple of seasons, quickly graduating to several solo parts. But her talent also flourished with speed and she was soon taking leading roles at Covent Garden and Bayreuth. Inevitably, her future appearances in Scotland were also rare, though she did eventually return to the Caird Hall for a Verdi Requiem. She never did return to Scottish Opera.

The orchestra was, as usual at this time, made up of uncredited local freelance players. However the Courier did highlight that the leader was David Stewart and the important trumpet soloist was William Boyle.

Performance DatesMessiah 1974

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Caird Hall | Dundee

22 Dec, 19.30

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