Opera Scotland

Zauberflöte 1974Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Magic Flute

1974 saw the start of an excellent phase in the development of Scottish Opera. The company's level of funding allowed it to employ a permanent chorus and have near-continuous use of the recently formed Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In addition, the company had given full-time contracts to a dozen young principals who were guaranteed work throughout the year. The first fruit of this scheme was David Pountney's medium scale production of The Magic Flute. It was designed specifically to fit into a group of theatres that were too small for the full company, but served populations that could justify more attention than the piano-accompanied "Opera for All" tour.

This first experimental batch of 17 performances in eight venues was a great success and the staging went on to join the main spring season, had a summer run in Edinburgh and continued to tour in the autumn. It returned when the Glasgow Theatre Royal opened and had a final medium-scale tour in 1977. By the time it was retired the production had been given 66 times in a great variety of venues throughout Scotland and the North of England.

The opening cast were made to work hard, with most roles taken by the new salaried principals. The only role performed by a guest singer was that of Sarastro - definitely cast from strength with Robert Lloyd. There were two Taminos, but they alternated, so that the "night off" consisted of doubling the smaller roles of First Priest and Armed Man. The proximity of the Academy in Glasgow also had a beneficial effect so that when the Queen of Night became ill before the opening performance a final-year student was able to step into the breach (as a result of which she took over First Lady in the next phase of the tour).

The staging itself was loved by its audiences, including the kids at schools matinées, but received varied reviews from the critics. The costumes were an eclectic mix - black Victorian gowns for the Queen and her ladies, khaki kaftans for the priesthood, Monostatos in a tail-suit and Papageno as an endearing Joey Grimaldi lookalike clown. Tamino was a Victorian military figure and Pamina could almost have been based on Tenniel's illustrations for Alice. The three boys had a costume change for every appearance, and most of the set was moveable - the temple doors were chorus members costumed like Greek caryatids. As the production toured, these elements all fell into place and the serious side was never lost in the hubbub. 

Performance DatesZauberflöte 1974

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Feb, 19.30 9 Feb, 14.00 9 Feb, 19.30

Whitehall Theatre | Dundee

11 Feb, 19.30 12 Feb, 14.00 12 Feb, 19.30

Town Hall, Elgin | Elgin, Moray

14 Feb, 19.30

Corran Hall | Oban, Argyll

16 Feb, 19.30

Civic Hall, Whitehaven | Whitehaven, Cumbria

18 Feb, 19.30

Civic Theatre, Darlington | Darlington

22 Feb, 14.00 22 Feb, 19.30 23 Feb, 19.30

Tait Hall | Kelso

25 Feb, 19.30

Crucible Theatre | Sheffield

1 Mar, 19.30 2 Mar, 14.00 2 Mar, 19.30

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