An Opera Company on tour ~ Sadller's Wells in Carlisle ~ Spring  1962

1.   Her Majesty's
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2.   Interior
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3.  Oedipus
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4. Wilson
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Sadller's Wells visit Carlisle

1.   Her Majesty's Theatre, English Street, Carlisle was briefly the civic theatre in the early 1960s. Sadller's Wells Touring Opera Company visited the theatre for one week in 1962.

Date: ca 1960
Photographer: Unknown


2.   Interior of Her Majesty's Theatre, English Street, Carlisle. This view from the stage dates from the period when the theatre hosted variety.

Date: ca 1950
Photographer: Unknown


3.   Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, the 1972 revival by Sadller's Wells in Glasgow.  This opera was included in the tour to Carlisle, paired with il Tabarro

Date: 1972
Photographer: Unknown

This staging by Michel St Denis was first produced at Sadler’s Wells in 1960, during the Colin Davis years. It was something of a landmark at the time, and an excellent recording was produced by EMI. However it was only given rare revivals after the move to the Coliseum. This tour, followed by some performances in London, marked its final appearance. Raimund Herincx returned from the original cast, with powers unimpaired, and Farrah's designs remained hugely impressive.


4.   The Ayrshire tenor, Robert Wilson, was a regular visitor to Her Majesty's Theatre, Carlisle. in the 1950s.

Date: ca 1960
Photographer: Unknown.  Photograph from Record Sleeve: 'Robert Wilson - The Voice of Scotland Volume One', produced by ©Beltona Records.   

Robert Wilson was a Scottish tenor who began his professional career with the Rothesay Entertainers.  Later, Wilson joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, with whom he performed from 1931 to 1937.

Wilson became a well-known variety performer and in the 1950s he was an early presenter of the White Heather Club and recorded with them. He continued to tour into the 1960s.

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Sadller's Wells brings Grand Opera to Carlisle

The Sadller's Wells Touring Company visited Carlisle in the Spring of 1962.  Spending a week at Her Majesty's Theatre in the city,  the company recruited a number of casual staff, mainly from the the Green Room Club of Carlisle.  Mike Bailey and his wife Irene, along with Jean Bird, a former wardrobe worker with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, were fortunate to join a small team of professional dressers.  Most of the club members were engaged to loading and unloadong the scenery from the company's train and employed to get the sets, costumes and properties into the theatre.

Mike was allocated the sub-principal's dressing room and during the brief engagement, assisted Eric Shilling, Leon Greene, John Heddle Nash Junior and Peter Glossop.  The company manager was Harold Blackburn, the Scottish bass, who also covered some of the key roles.  Michael Geliot, staff producer was in Carlisle throughout the brief season which saw performances of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro (using traditional perspective sets, with a single stage entrance located centrally in the upstage flats),  Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, Puccini's il Tabarro, Rossini's Cenerentola and Verdi's Rigoletto.  During this week many company members were affected by influenza and Harold Blackburn 'went on' in place of the usual Sparafucile for at least one night.  After the evening performances, many of the leading singers returned to London by the overnight sleeper service.

Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex.

In 1960 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, a production by Colin Graham, with the text set by Michel Saint-Denis and conducted by Colin Davis was given. Oedipus was sung by Australian tenor Ronald Dowd with actor Michael Hordern as narrator. Although the performance's narration was in English, the company moved from its normal English-language practice and the singing remained in the original Latin.

This piece was given a single performance in Carlisle in 1962 and elsewhere on tour during that Spring.  The visit to Carlisle was typical of the activities of a cariety of companies in the late 19th and early 20th century.