Opera Scotland

Masked Ball 1959Royal Opera, Stockholm

Read more about the opera Ballo in maschera

The Gentele production of Ballo was considered to be mould-breaking in its day.  It was by no means the first staging to throw out the spurious "Boston" version of the Rome premiere, with characters named Riccardo,  Renato,  Sam,  Tom,  Ulrica and  Silvano.  but Gentele went further in his attempt to translate the piece successfully to its original Swedish setting.

The adaptation by Erik Lindegren went in for an extensive renaming.  Thus Oscar, the page, became Otto;  Renato, the friend turned assassin,  became not Anckarström as modern convention has it,  but Count Holberg.  The lead conspirator, Sam in the Boston version and Ribbing nowadays, became  Captain Anckarström - very confusing.  Even the tiny roles were affected - the Lord Chief Justice becoming a bishop, and the sailor we know as Silvano or Christian now being renamed Matts.

The quality of the cast is superb, with the leading members of the Swedish company on call (but for the king, an excellent Norwegian).  It may seem a pity that the great Birgit Nilsson only sang on the opening night,  but her main duty on this visit was to sing Brünnhilde in Die Walküre.  The English choreographer Mary Skeaping,  who worked frequently at the Drottningholm Court Theatre,  was an acknowledged expert on period dance styles.


Royal Swedish Opera at the Edinburgh Festival 1959

This first visit to Edinburgh by the Swedes brought an ambitious repertoire of five operas.  Perhaps the most conventional elements were the second Verdi work, Rigoletto, and Die Walküre.  There were also two twentieth century pieces.  Wozzeck was already recognized as a masterpiece,  but had not been seen before in Scotland.  The interesting science fiction work,  Aniara, by Karl-Birger Blomdahl, was more of an unknown quantity,  only premiered a few months before and now being seen in Britain for the first time.

The five operas given were by Wagner (Die Walküre);  Verdi (Rigoletto,  Un ballo in maschera);  Berg (Wozzeck) and Blomdahl (Aniara).

The three week performance schedule was:

Week One, w/c 24 August:  Mon 24  Ballo in maschera;  Tue 25 Rigoletto;  Wed 26 Walküre;  Thu 27  Rigoletto;  Fri 28  Walküre;  Sat 29  Ballo in maschera.

Week Two,  w/c 31 August:  Mon 31 Walküre;  Tue 1 Sep  Rigoletto;  Wed 2 Walküre;  Thu 3  Aniara;  Fri 4  Ballo in maschera;  Sat 5  Aniara.

Week Three, w/c 7 September:  Mon 7 Walküre;  Tue 8  Wozzeck;  Wed 9 Rigoletto;  Thu 10  Wozzeck;  Fri 11  Rigoletto;  Sat 12  Ballo in maschera.

Performance Cast

Count Ribbing a conspirator (Sam)

Arne Tyrén

Count Horn a conspirator (Tom)

Bo Lundborg

Oscar page to Gustavus (Edgar)

Birgit Nordin

Gustavus III King of Sweden (Riccardo)

Ragnar Ulfung

Anckarström friend to the king (Renato)

Erik Saedén (Exc Sep 4)

Hugo Hasslo (Sep 4)

Lord Chief Justice

Arne Ohlson

Mamzell Arvidson a fortune-teller (Ulrica)

Kerstin Meyer (Exc Aug 29)

Barbro Ericson (Aug 29)

Christian a sailor (Silvano)

Ingvar Wixell

Servant to Amelia

Sven-Erik Vikström

Amelia wife of Anckarström (Adelia)

Birgit Nilsson (Aug 24)

Aase Nordmo-Løvberg (Exc Aug 24)

Performance DatesMasked Ball 1959

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

24 Aug, 19.00 29 Aug, 19.00 4 Sep, 19.00 12 Sep, 19.00

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