Memories: Jim Hastie

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When I was appointed as Opera Ballet Master my duties were to provide choreography, dancers when required, and movement classes for the singers of Scottish Opera.

Peter Darrell who had great experience and success of working with opera was very generous in giving me encouragement and advice when needed. Darrell was a man of the theatre and was able to generate an excitement and enthusiasm in singers and dancers involved in the production. When I worked as his assistant on four operas during my time with the company I found it fascinating to watch him bring out each person's individuality. He had the ability to know just how much each singer and dancer was capable of.

Darrell was really a shy person and always nervous when working with new groups of people for the first time. We always arranged to meet before rehearsals and I would stay with him until he had to leave. Darrell choreographed Five Rückert Songs which was about to go into the main repertoire of Scottish Ballet and Dame Janet Baker was working with Scottish Opera at the time. I suggested to Peter that he invite her to sing. Typical of the man he felt too nervous to ask. I explained the situation to Dame Janet who was charming and said she would be delighted if dates were right. True to her word her agent rang and she sang at the Gala performance at Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Darrell found it difficult to understand how much he was admired and respected by so many others in the theatre.

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