Opera Scotland

Zauberflöte 1952Hamburg State Opera

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In 1952 the Hamburg State Opera became the first foreign company to make a guest appearance at the Edinburgh Festival. They brought an astonishing repertoire of six works from the core of the German operatic canon. One rarity, Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, an opera by a living composer, received its British stage première. The others made a relatively obvious choice, given the company's willingness to perform such a range, and displayed many of the best singers then active in Germany: Die Zauberflöte, Fidelio, Der Freischütz, Die Meistersinger and Der Rosenkavaler. For such an important visit, the Beethoven, with its great political symbolism, was the wise choice for the opening night on 18 August.

The editor of Opera did not reach Edinburgh in time to catch this production - but then nobody knew that the young conductor would have such an important influence on operatic life in Britain within the next decade. The company's chief conductor Leopold Ludwig and Joseph Keilberth both had far higher reputations at this early stage of Solti's career. Gottlob Frick was a great Sarastro, and it must have been very difficult for local audiences to choose between the two wonderful sopranos Elisabeth Grümmer and Lisa Della Casa. Though the latter is not mentioned in the programme, she must have been substituted for Grümmer in the two performances either side of her performance at the opening Freischütz.

The true company spirit is shown by the fact that major stars were able to play smaller parts at will. Our programme has an insert stating that, for at least one performance, the company's Agathe and Marschallin, Clara Ebers, went on for an indisposed Lisa Jungkind as First Lady. Similarly, a cast list in The Listener for a radio relay indicates that Helmut Melchert, scheduled only for First Armed Man, also went on as First Priest.


Hamburg State Opera in Edinburgh - 1952

The Hamburg State Opera was the first foreign opera company to visit the Edinburgh Festival, and brought six productions.  There were five unversally accepted classics of the German operatic repertoire -   Fidelio,  Die Zauberflöte,  Der Freischütz,  Die Meistersinger, and  Der Rosenkavalier, as well as the British stage premiere of Hindemith's  Mathis der Maler.

Many of the leading singers were famous at the time and remained well known through the gradually widening availability of many recordings from Bayreuth and other sources.

The performance schedule for the Hamburg visit was as follows:

First Week, commencing 18 Aug:  Mon 18 Fidelio;  Tue 19 Zauberflöte;  Wed 20 Fidelio;  Thu 21 Zauberflöte;  Fri 22 Freischütz;  Sat 23 Zauberflöte.

Second Week, commencing 25 Aug:  Mon 25 Freischütz;  Tue 26 Zauberflöte;  Wed 27 Freischütz;  Thu 28 Rosenkavalier;  Fri 29 Mathis der Maler;  Sat 30 Rosenkavalier.

Third Week, commencing 1 Sep:  Mon 1 Fidelio;   Tue 2 Mathis der Maler;  Wed 3 Meistersinger;  Thu 4 Fidelio;  Fri 5 Rosenkavalier;  Sat 6 Meistersinger.

Performance Cast

Tamino a Prince

Rudolf Schock

First Lady in attendance on the Queen

Lisa Jungkind

Clara Ebers

Second Lady in attendance on the Queen

Ilse Koegel

Third Lady in attendance on the Queen

Maria von Ilosvay

Papageno a bird-catcher

Horst Günter

Queen of Night

Valerie Bak

Monostatos a servant in the Temple

Kurt Marschner

Pamina daughter of the Queen of Night

Elisabeth Grümmer (Aug 19, 26)

Lisa Della Casa (Aug 21, 23)

First Boy

Christine Görner

Second Boy

Ilse Wallenstein

Third Boy

Gisela Litz

Speaker at the Temple

Josef Metternich

Sarastro High Priest of Isis and Osiris

Gottlob Frick

First Priest

Helmut Melchert

Second Priest

Karl Otto

Papagena disguised as an old woman

Anneliese Rothenberger

First Armed Man

Helmut Melchert

Second Armed Man

Jean Pfendt

Performance DatesZauberflöte 1952

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

19 Aug, 19.00 21 Aug, 19.00 23 Aug, 19.00 26 Aug, 19.00

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