Opera Scotland

Fidelio 1952Hamburg State Opera

Read more about the opera Fidelio

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.  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 cast presented in Günther Rennert's production is quite remarkable, led by a great tenor in Peter Anders. Inge Borkh had an excellent career in dramatic roles, as did Martha Mödl later on. Her intended part in Edinburgh was Octavian, but like all of this company, she covered other parts as required in the event of illness. The lovely young Swiss soprano Lisa Della Casa went on to establish her reputation singing Mozart and Strauss, making the title role of Arabella very much her own. The baritones and basses are also a notably solid crew.

A common feature of Fidelio performances then - rather less so now - was the insertion of the superb Overture Leonore No3 between the first and second scenes of Act 2.  Rather more surprising was the presence of members of the Edinburgh Opera Society to augment the sound and appearance of the celebrations in the final scene. They repeated this trick seven years later when Sadler's Wells brought Fidelio to Glasgow and Dundee as well as Edinburgh.


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

Jaquino Rocco's assistant

Kurt Marschner

Marzelline Rocco's daughter

Lisa Della Casa

Rocco gaoler

Theo Herrmann

Leonore Florestan's wife, disguised as Fidelio

Inge Borkh (Aug 18, 20)

Martha Mödl (Sep 1, 4)

Don Pizarro prison governor

Josef Metternich

First Prisoner

Fritz Göllnitz

Second Prisoner

Toni Blankenheim

Florestan a Spanish nobleman

Peter Anders

Don Fernando the King's Minister

Caspar Bröcheler

Performance DatesFidelio 1952

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

18 Aug, 19.00 20 Aug, 19.00 1 Sep, 19.00 4 Sep, 19.00

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2023

Site by SiteBuddha