Opera Scotland

Zauberflöte 1970Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Magic Flute

In the summer of 1970, the Commonwealth Games were held in Edinburgh, the first time they had been staged in Scotland. Among the cultural celebrations mounted concurrently, Scottish Opera put on a new production of The Magic Flute. That the company had not staged the Flute previously may seem surprising, but in the sixties it was brought north several times by Sadler's Wells, and German productions had been brought to Edinburgh regularly during the Festival.

Nor had the company used the Lyceum before - an attractively intimate late Victorian theatre, that had been the city's base for Carl Rosa and Moody-Manners in Victorian and Edwardian times. It proved ideal for Mozart, and would be visited by the company every summer for several years to come. The designs were by the Lyceum's resident team, who were therefore accustomed to the unmodernised backstage equipment. Perhaps the larger than usual budget led them to overcomplicate things, and the designs, though attractive, suffered from the inherent clumsiness that became evident during the many scene changes.

Peter Ebert's production was a colourful affair which emphasised the multicultural elements of the plot. Only Papageno and spouse were costumed traditionally. Tamino's outfit showed a Tibetan influence; Sarastro and the priests were oriental in style; Monostatos and his men had a decidedly Arabian or Turkish appearance. Pamina wore a diamanté encrusted trouser suit in shocking pink. The still traditional blacking up of Monostatos looked odd when Sarastro was played by Simon Estes, an elegant young African-American making his local debut several years before he was recruited to sing the Dutchman at Bayreuth.

The Queen of the Night's blue costume had Tudor elements with blue make-up applied to her face. The three ladies were colour-coded - one green, one magenta, one yellow, with facial make-up matching the costumes. The three boys were little green men who looked exotic, evoking magical associations.

After the Games and the Edinburgh Festival, where the company played Elegy for Young Lovers, this joined the autumn tour, along with the Henze and Fidelio from the spring season. It also had a further run at the Lyceum in rep with Traviata and the English Opera Group King Arthur in December before joining the 1971 spring tour.

As with The Gondoliers, James Loughran brought his own band, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Loughran himself conducted the Verdi, with his assistant, Christopher Seaman, taking some of the Mozart performances.


The schedule for this short December season was:

Edinburgh, Royal Lyceum Theatre: Fri Dec 11 Magic Flute;  Sat 12 Traviata; Sun 13 -;  Mon 14 King Arthur; Tue 15 Traviata;  Wed 16 Magic Flute;  Thu 17 King Arthur;  Fri 18 Traviata;  Sat 19 mat Magic Flute; Sat 19 eve King Arthur.

Performance Cast

Tamino a Prince

David Hillman

First Lady in attendance on the Queen

Patricia Hay

Second Lady in attendance on the Queen

Josephte Clément

Third Lady in attendance on the Queen

Claire Livingstone

Papageno a bird-catcher

Michael Maurel

Queen of Night

Rhonda Bruce (Jul; Sep)

Jessica Cash (Dec)

Pamina daughter of the Queen of Night

Jill Gomez (Jul; Sep)

Elizabeth Robson (Dec)

Monostatos a servant in the Temple

John Robertson

First Boy

Sheila McGrow

Second Boy

Ann Baird

Third Boy

Moyra Paterson

Speaker at the Temple

Bruce Martin

Sarastro High Priest of Isis and Osiris

Simon Estes (Jul; Sep)

Stafford Dean (Dec)

First Priest

Alexander Morrison

Second Priest

John Lawson Graham

Papagena disguised as an old woman

Nan Christie (Jul; Sep)

Laureen Livingstone (Dec)

First Armed Man

Derek Blackwell

Second Armed Man

Norman White

Performance DatesZauberflöte 1970

Map List

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

20 Jul, 19.30 21 Jul, 19.30 22 Jul, 19.30 23 Jul, 19.30 24 Jul, 19.30 25 Jul, 19.30 11 Dec, 19.30 16 Dec, 19.30 19 Dec, 14.30

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

17 Sep, 19.30 19 Sep, 19.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

22 Sep, 19.30 25 Sep, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

16 Oct, 19.30 17 Oct, 19.30

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