Opera Scotland

Mathis der Maler 1952Hamburg State Opera

Read more about the opera Mathis der Maler

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 first performance in Britain of Mathis took place in concert form at the Queen's Hall in London, in March 1939 (less than a year after its Zurich premiere). These Edinburgh performances were the first time it had been staged in Britain. The outstanding quality of the production and performances made it the highlight of the entire Festival. It therefore seems astonishing that this work has not been performed in Scotland since. It took many years before it was produced in London. But Hindemith has been a deeply unfashionable composer ever since his death.


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

Albrecht von Brandenburg Cardinal Archbishop of Mainz

Helmut Melchert

Mathis a painter in Albrecht's service

Mathieu Ahlersmeyer

Lorenz von Pommersfelden Dean of Mainz

Toni Blankenheim

Wolfgang Capito counsellor to the Cardinal

Fritz Lehnert

Riedinger a wealthy merchant and Lutheran

Theo Herrmann

Ursula Riedinger's daughter

Elfriede Wasserthal

Hans Schwalb leader of the rebel peasant forces

Heinrich Bensing

Truchsess von Waldburg commander of the Federation army

Jean Pfendt

Sylvester von Schaumberg an officer in the Federation army

Kurt Marschner

Count Helfenstein

Guido Diemer

Regina Schwalb's daughter

Anneliese Rothenberger

Countess Helfenstein

Lisa Jungkind

Performance DatesMathis der Maler 1952

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

29 Aug, 19.00 2 Sep, 19.00

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2023

Site by SiteBuddha