Opera Scotland

Madam Butterfly 1960Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Madama Butterfly

This cast was typical of Sadler's Wells - Victoria Elliott was one of the leading lyric sopranos in the company, particularly known for her Violetta and Tosca. John Hargreaves spent most of his career with the company, while William Aitken had started with the Carl Rosa. Anthony Besch was already a director of great promise, but quite prepared to revive someone else's staging when required.


Press Opinion - Dundee

Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Friday, October 28, 1960

“Butterfly” held audience spellbound

'Victoria Elliott, the Sadler’s Wells dramatic primadonna, delighted another full house at the Gaumont Theatre, Dundee, last night, when she sang Puccini’s Madam Butterfly.  This versatile artiste, whose Violetta and Tosca are well-remembered here, held the theatre audience spellbound with an intense performance of the tragic Japanese girl-wife.  Her powerful tone soared through the melodies, and the realism of her acting completed an unusually vivid portrait.  Miss Elliott dominated even the composer’s full orchestral effects with her volume.  The favourite aria “One Fine Day” was delivered with many artistic inflections of voice.  The joyous excitement was surely communicated, and the ultimate disillusion brought dramatic singing of a high order.

'The love duet in Act I shares with Butterfly’s number one aria the reason for the appeal of the opera.  No other operatic composer has matched Puccini’s genius for sustaining luscious melody as he did in this 15 minutes’ passionate duet.  Pinkerton was sung with vigorously passionate tone by William Aitken, the Glasgow-born tenor.  A thankless, graceless part, except for the love duet, the interest in it lies mostly in the matching of the primadonna’s volume.  For this Mr Aitken was happily cast, producing a series of ringing top notes.

'Sharpless, the Consul is another part with drawbacks.  He lacks musical colour, and could not reward sufficiently John Hargreaves’ abilities in baritone roles.  Suzuki fares somewhat better, and Ann Robson seized every opportunity.  Among the supporting cast one noted the fine voice of Stanley Bevan as the marriage broker.

'Michael Moores, the conductor, produced both tenderness and drama from the orchestra, and was particularly successful in building and sustaining the tensions.'


Sadler's Wells Opera's Scottish Tours - 1960

Sadler's Wells Opera made two visits in 1960.  In spring there were three weeks - Edinburgh (King's) followed by Aberdeen (His Majesty's) and Glasgow (Empire).  In October a week in Glasgow (Empire) was followed by a week in Dundee (Gaumont).

The ten operas performed on thess tours were:  Mozart (Don Giovanni);  Rossini (Barber of Seville,  Cinderella);  Wagner (Tannhäuser);  J Strauss (Fledermaus);  Puccini (Bohème,  Madam Butterfly);  Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel);  Giordano (Andrea Chénier);  German (Merrie England).

Edinburgh, w/c 29 February:  Mon 29 Fledermaus;  Tue 1 Mar Cinderella;  Wed 2 Tannhäuser;  Thu 3 Don Giovanni;  Fri 4 Cinderella;  Sat 5 m Fledermaus;  Sat 5 e Bohème.

Aberdeen, w/c 7 March:  Mon 7 Fledermaus;  Tue 8 Don Giovanni;  Wed 9 Cinderella;  Thu 10 Bohème;  Fri 11 Tannhäuser;  Sat 12 m Fledermaus;  Sat 12 e Cinderella.

Glasgow, w/c 14 March:  Mon 14 Cinderella;  Tue 15 Tannhäuser;  Wed 16 Bohème;  Thu 17 Fledermaus;  Fri 18 Don Giovanni;  Sat 19 m Fledermaus;  Sat 19 e Cinderella.

Glasgow, w/c 17 October:  Mon 17 Barber of Seville;  Tue 18 Andrea Chénier;  Wed 19 Merrie England;  Thu 20 Barber of Seville;  Fri 21 Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 22 m Merrie England;  Sat 22 e Madam Butterfly.

Dundee, w/c 24 October:  Mon 24 Merrie England;  Tue 25 Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 26 Barber of Seville;  Thu 27 Madam Butterfly;  Fri 28 Andrea Chénier;  Sat 29 m Barber of Seville;  Sat 29 e Merrie England.


Cast details from ENO archives

Performance Cast

Lieutenant F B Pinkerton U S Navy

William Aitken

Goro marriage broker

Stanley Bevan

Suzuki Cio-Cio-San's servant

Ann Robson

Sharpless U S Consul in Nagasaki

John Hargreaves

Cio-Cio-San known as Madam Butterfly

Victoria Elliott

Imperial Commissioner

Eric Stannard

Bonze a priest, Cio-Cio-San's uncle

Lawrence Folley

Prince Yamadori

Lawrence Folley

Kate Pinkerton

Jane Whitehead

Performance DatesMadam Butterfly 1960

Map List

Empire Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

22 Oct, 19.00

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

27 Oct, 19.00

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