Opera Scotland

Force of Destiny 1951Glyndebourne Opera

Read more about the opera Forza del Destino

The Glyndebourne Opera's Edinburgh Festival season of 1951 followed a pattern similar to that of 1949 - a popular Mozart masterpiece, this time Don Giovanni, paired with an unfamiliar, and much undervalued, Verdi melodrama, La forza del destino.

When the Festival prospectus was issued, John Pritchard, the company's young Chorus Master, was scheduled to conduct three performances of Don Giovanni, with Principal Conductor Fritz Busch down to conduct six performances of Mozart and all the Verdi. By the time the programme was printed, Pritchard had been allocated the entire run of Don Giovanni.

1951 was an important year in the Verdi revival, fifty years having passed since his death. A further sixty-odd years later, when all his operas have been performed and appreciated, it is perhaps difficult to comprehend the lack of respect shown for an opera composer now recognized as one of the greats. Forza here made its first Scottish appearance since the Carl Rosa visit of 1910, in a performance which fizzed with drama due to the fiery, if inflexible, conducting of Fritz Busch. One evening was broadcast, and the recording has been made available on CD.

Criticisms could be made of course - the text was heavily cut - standard practice for most Italian operas in those days - and there was not a native Italian speaker in the cast. Several of the voices were not quite suited to the style - Wegner's voice probably too light, and Rothmüller's magnificently dramatic approach perhaps not ideal either. But these performances did contribute to the revival of interest in one of Verdi's most absorbing works, and the producrtion was justifiably revived in 1955.

Familiar names among the choristers include soprano Joan Stuart; contraltos Pamela Bowden and Helen Watts; tenors Emile Belcourt, John Carolan, Brychan Powell and Alexander Young with basses David Kelly, Jeffrey Skitch and Dennis Wicks. The young assistants on the production staff included both Peter Ebert and Anthony Besch.

Cast details are from a programme in the OperaScotland collection.

Performance DatesForce of Destiny 1951

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

20 Aug, 19.00 22 Aug, 19.00 24 Aug, 19.00 28 Aug, 19.00 30 Aug, 19.00 1 Sep, 19.00 3 Sep, 19.00 5 Sep, 19.00 7 Sep, 19.00

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