Opera Scotland

Rigoletto 1959Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Rigoletto

Peter Glossop kept the title role in Rigoletto as a cornerstone of his repertoire for the rest of his career, singing it in most of the major houses around the world. Harold Blackburn sang Sparafucile regularly over the next couple of decades both at Sadler's Wells and at the Coliseum.

David Ward soon dropped the smaller Verdi roles such as Monterone as his career developed. However he took it up again, briefly, as the only British artist involved in Solti's recording of Rigoletto, made in 1963 in Rome. This project featured a team of marvellous singers that included Alfredo Kraus, Anna Moffo and Ribert Merrill.

Gita Denise had previously sung several principal roles with the Carl Rosa, including Rosina,  Carmen and Maddalena.  She would later appear with Scottish Opera in Boris Godunov.  After that her career turned more towards musical theatre in London.  As late as 1977 she appeared as Mme Matroppo n Very Good Eddie, a classic musical comedy by Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern.  She also did straight acting appearances, including TV.

Alexander Gibson was a wonderfully natural and dramatic conductor of Verdi, but didn't do Rigoletto again until Scottish Opera mounted its David Alden production twenty years later.


The Dundee Press

Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Monday, May 4, 1959

Dundee record for Sadler's Wells

'Sadler's Wells Opera brought their highly successful week at the Gaumont Theatre, Dundee, to a close on Saturday night with a glittering performance of Verdi's Rigoletto. The second packed house of the day (The Merry Widow matinee was also sold out) gave the Rigoletto principals and chorus intense applause for a presentation that had made this old and many-melodied favourite assume new attractions both musical and visual.

'Dramatically, the production was among the best of the week, and the chorus singing very fine. A brisk pace on the stage was matched by Alexander Gibson's vivid sense of Verdi's dramatic intentions, and the whole opera sparkled with action. The scene outside Rigoletto's house (with an ingenious set) was notable for the unusually effective way in which Gilda was abducted by the courtiers.

'Peter Glossop scored a big success as the tragic jester. There is no finer operatic part for a baritone when sung and acted as well as this. Firm and musical tone was poured into the part by Glossop, registering pathos and vengeful hatred most grippingly.

'Nancy Creighton, as Gilda, had a lovely voice and made a big impression with her display of technique in the coloratura of “Dearest Name”. Brychan Powell, the young Welsh tenor, sang the Duke of Mantua with bright and powerful tone.

'With five completely full houses out of the seven performances, and the others not far from full, Sadler's Wells created a record in audiences for their Dundee visits.'

Cast details are from programmes in Edinburgh City Library (25 April) and the OperaScotland collection (Dundee, 2 May).


Sadler's Wells Opera in Scotland - 1959

This tour was extremely unusual in that it lasted three weeks, spread across three cities.  The same repertoire was presented in each of the venues - Edinburgh (King's Theatre), Dundee (Gaumont Theatre) and Glasgow (King's Theatre).

The six operas performed in each city were Mozart (Marriage of Figaro); Beethoven (Fidelio);  Verdi (Rigoletto);  Bizet (Carmen);  Puccini (Madam Butterfly) and  Lehár (Merry Widow).

The tour schedule was:

Edinburgh, w/c 20 Apr:  Mon 20 Merry Widow;  Tue 21 Carmen;  Wed 22 Fidelio;  Thu 23 Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 24 Madam Butterfly;  Sat 25 m Merry Widow;  Sat 25 e Rigoletto.

Dundee, w/c 27 Apr:  Mon 27 Merry Widow;  Tue 28  Madam Butterfly;  Wed 29 Carmen;  Thu 30 Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 1 May Fidelio;  Sat 2 m Merry Widow;  Sat 2 e Rigoletto.

Glasgow, w/c 4 May:  Mon 4 Merry Widow;  Tue 5 Madam Butterfly; Wed 6 Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 7 Fidelio;  Fri 8 Carmen;  Sat 9 m Merry Widow;  Sat 9 e Rigoletto

Performance Cast

Duke of Mantua

Brychan Powell (Apr 25; May 2)

Matteo Borsa a courtier

Edwin Jepps (Apr 25; May 2)

Marullo a courtier

Peter Tracey (Apr 25; May 2)

Count Ceprano a courtier

Carmelino Satariano (Apr 25; May 2)

Countess Ceprano

Norma Kubel (Apr 25)

Gillian Ashby (May 2)

Rigoletto a jester

John Hargreaves (Apr 25)

Peter Glossop (May 2)

Count Monterone

David Ward (Apr 25; May 2)

Sparafucile a professional assassin

Harold Blackburn (Apr 25; May 2)

Gilda Rigoletto's daughter

Nancy Creighton (Apr 25; May 2)

Giovanna Gilda's duenna

Ann Robson (Apr 25)

Jean Manning (May 2)

Page to the Duchess

Teresa Duckworth (Apr 25; May 2)


William McGovern (Apr 25; May 2)

Maddalena sister of Sparafucile

Gita Denise (Apr 25; May 2)

Performance DatesRigoletto 1959

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

25 Apr, 19.30

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

2 May, 19.00

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

9 May, 19.00

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