Wednesday 2 January 2013

Peter Ebert

Peter Ebert has died in Sussex (on New Year's eve) at the age of 94. The son of Glyndebourne founder artistic director Carl Ebert, Peter Ebert was born in Frankfurt in 1918, he attended the first Glyndebourne season 1934 and first directed there in 1954. He spent 10 years abroad, working at Hanover and the Deutsche Oper am Rhein but is best remembered for his 15 year tenure at Scottish Opera during the company's golden age. Ebert was director of productions at Scottish Opera from 1965, going on to become general administrator (with David Pountney as director of productions) until 1980. During my time in Scotland I saw a number of his productions.

The productions I saw (from 1976 to 1978) were mainly revivals, core repertoire pieces in eminently revivable productions. Generally all set in period, his Don Pasquale was notable for the contemporary setting. It perhaps says something for the strong company that he built that not only was David Pountney director of productions, but two of the staff producers were Nicholas Hyntner and Graham Vick. Plus of course chief conductor Alexander Gibson.

It was Ebert himself who directed Scottish Opera's first Ring cycle, which appeared in the late 1960's and early 1970's (with the first complete cycle in 1971) with Alexander Gibson conducting. The cast for these included Helga Dernesch and Berit Lindholm as Brunnhilde, Charles Craig singing Siegmund and Siegfried, and David Ward as Wotan. He also directed the famous production of The Trojans with Janet Baker as Dido and Ronald Dowd as Aeneas, again with Alexander Gibson conducting.

The complete list of Peter Ebert productions that I saw is as follows:
  • Beethoven: Fidelio - with Charles Craig and Helga Dernesch, plus Dennis O'Neill as Jacquino 
  • Beethoven: Fidelio - with Charles Craig and Joanna Bruno
  • Donizetti: Don Pasquale - with Michael Langdon, Richard Greager and Patricia Hay
  • Puccini: La Boheme - with George Shirley and Joanna Bruno
  • Puccini: Madama Butterfly - with Neil Shicoff and Joanna Bruno
  • Verdi: Falstaff - with Sesto Bruscantini
  • Verdi: Otello - with Charles Craig, Joanna Bruno and John Shaw
  • Verdi: Simon Boccanegra - with Jan Derkson and Robert Lloyd
He also wrote a biography of his father, In This Theatre of Man's Life.

Elsewhere on this blog:

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