Obituary: Ande Anderson

Ande Anderson spent virtually his entire working life at Covent Garden.

After war service with the West African Frontier Force and two years as stage director for Ensa in Bombay, in 1948 he joined the stage management department of the fledgling Covent Garden Opera Company (which later became the Royal Opera), becoming stage manager and assistant to the resident producer in 1956. Two years later he was raised to assistant producer, then in 1959 became resident producer, a post he held until 1972, when he became director of productions. From 1979 to 1982 he was general manager of the Royal Opera Company and even after his retirement from that post continued to work as a freelance director.

As resident producer, Anderson was responsible for revivals of operas originally staged by star directors such as Visconti and Zeffirelli, as well as the more humdrum productions of now long-forgotten directors. To both of these categories he devoted great care and as much time (never sufficient) as he was allowed.

Staff producers have a thankless task: if they alter the original staging, people are sure to complain; if they do not correct their predecessors' mistakes, people will complain even more. It was only after his retirement from Covent Garden that Ande Anderson was properly appreciated. While he worked there, solecisms that disfigured later stagings of Don Carlos and Billy Budd did not occur: no ladies accompanied Elisabeth de Valois into the Monastery of San Yuste, where the Queen of Spain was the only female permitted to enter; the officers on board HMS Indomitable did not rise to drink the King's health (naval officers had a special dispensation to remain seated, as cabin bulkheads were so low).

Anderson also worked for other organisations: he directed Semele (1959) and Hercules (1960) for the Handel Opera Society at Sadler's Wells, while for Audrey Langford's enterprising Kentish Opera Group, which performed at the Civic Hall, Orpington, he directed Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief (1960) and The Saint of Bleecker Street (1962), both British premieres. He staged Britten's The Turn of the Screw and a double bill of Mozart's Bastien and Bastienne together with Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire at Ledlanet in Scotland in 1966, and the following year directed successful productions of Berlioz's Beatrice et Benedict and Weber's Oberon for Cambridge University Opera.

At Covent Garden Anderson was occasionally given a production of his own. In 1965 he staged Puccini's trio of one-act operas Il trittico, of which only Il tabarro and Suor Angelica were brand new; Gianni Schicchi was the reworking of a production by Peter Ustinov from 1962. I remember Il tabarro as particularly enjoyable, with Tito Gobbi, Marie Collier and Charles Craig in the principal roles. Then in 1968 Anderson directed a new production (the second) of Tippett's Midsummer Marriage, while the same year he was landed with Puccini's Manon Lescaut which used various bits of scenery discarded from other operas. The audience was surprised to recognise Brunnhilde's rock from The Ring in the final act.

However, revivals are the resident producer's chief job and Anderson was responsible, throughout the Sixties and Seventies, for a great many of these: Visconti's productions of Don Carlos, Il trovatore and La traviata; Zeffirelli's Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, Falstaff, Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci and Tosca were treated with the love and respect that they deserved, as was the Fidelio directed as well as conducted by the veteran Otto Klemperer. Many revivals, including The Queen of Spades, Un ballo in maschera, Carmen, Wozzeck, Der fliegende Hollander, Otello and Jenufa were, as I recall, greatly improved by his restaging, while Madama Butterfly, Elektra and Salome were virtually new versions of very old productions.

Anderson was sometimes asked to recreate Covent Garden productions for theatres abroad: there was Billy Budd in San Francisco (1978), Macbeth in Pretoria, Peter Grimes in Seattle (1983), and King Priam at the Herodes Atticus Theatre in Athens. King Priam, also revived at Covent Garden in 1985 in celebration of Tippett's 80th birthday, was originally staged by Sam Wanamaker, and Anderson brought the production vividly to life, as he had done earlier with Wanamaker's controversial staging of La forza del destino. In 1986 Anderson accompanied his wife, the soprano Josephine Barstow, on a trip to Georgia, Russia and Latvia. She sang Tosca in Tblisi, at the Bolshoi in Moscow and in Riga, where she also sang Lady Macbeth.

After his retirement from Covent Garden, Ande Anderson became a farmer in Sussex, where he raised cattle, but his familiar figure was still frequently to be seen at the Royal Opera, English National Opera, or any other theatre where his wife was singing.

Alan ("Ande") Anderson, opera producer: born South Shields 18 September 1917; married first Josephine Veasey (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved); second 1969 Josephine Barstow; died 19 June 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us