Scottish Opera

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Alexander Gibson (1926—1995) conductor

Peter Hemmings (1934—2002) opera and orchestra administrator

Helga Dernesch (b. 1939)


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Opera co. based in Glasgow but giving seasons in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and elsewhere in Scotland, also paying periodic visits to Eng. provinces, particularly Newcastle upon Tyne. Has played in London, at Edinburgh Fest., and made several tours abroad. Founded 1962 by Alexander Gibson, first season being of 2 operas, Madama Butterfly and Pelléas et Mélisande, in King's Th., Glasgow. With Peter Hemmings as administrator from 1963, co. began to build a reputation for striking productions, with excellent sets and lighting; singers were mainly Brit. but with several int. artists who worked with the co. for long spells, e.g. Helga Dernesch. Contemporary works were perf., notably of Britten, and operas were commissioned from Scottish composers, e.g. Wilson's Confessions of a Justified Sinner. In 1969, Berlioz's Les Troyens was perf., with Janet Baker as Dido, and in 1966, with Die Walküre, the co. began to build a Ring cycle, culminating in 1971 in Glasgow with the first Brit. perf. of the Ring outside London for about 40 years. In 1975 the co. moved into the re‐equipped and re‐furbished Th. Royal, Glasgow, as its permanent headquarters, setting the seal on the finest and most important operatic development in Britain since the foundation of Glyndebourne. In 1976 Hemmings was appointed dir. of Australian Opera and was succeeded by Peter Ebert, former chief prod. of Scottish Opera. He resigned in 1980. His successor was John Cox, appointed in 1982, who handed over to Richard Mantle in 1985. Mantle was succeeded by Richard Jarman (1991–7), Ruth Mackenzie (1997–9), Christopher Barron (2000–5), Alex Reedijk from 2006. Formed own orch. 1980, Scottish Nat. Orch. and others having played until then. Scottish Opera is a remarkable example of the flowering of Scottish mus. life since 1945, especially under the aegis of Sir Alexander Gibson. John Mauceri succeeded Gibson as mus. dir. 1987–93, Richard Armstrong 1993–2005. Francesco Corti from 2007.

Subjects: Music.

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