Opera Scotland

Claude Debussy

Enfant Prodigue in Scotland

Posted 8 Feb 2017

The Prodigal Son (L'enfant prodigue) by Claude Debussy (pictured) received its first performance in Scotland on 2 December 1911, at the King's Theatre, Glasgow.

The performers were the Quinlan Opera Company, one of the important group of touring companies that operated without subsidy in the pre-war era. The previous evening they had presented the Scottish premiere of Puccini's latest piece, The Girl of the Golden West, while the two week Glasgow season also included performances of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde and The Valkyrie. After the Glasgow fortnight, the company moved to the Edinburgh Lyceum, where the repertoire was repeated.

The conductor of the Debussy was Tullio Voghera. The soloists were Spencer Thomas (Azaël), Vera Courtenay (Lia) and Allen Hinckley (Siméon). Perhaps the strangest feature of the programme is the fact that the cantata was performed in a double-bill, followed by Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, perhaps seen as an appropriate entertainment for the Christmas season.

The Prodigal Son appeared on the Scottish stage once more in November 1922. On that occasion the British National Opera Company presented it at the Glasgow Theatre Royal. This time its companion piece was Leoncavallo's popular melodrama Pagliacci. Azaël was sung by Walter Hyde, with Elsy Treweek as Lia and Alfred Valenti Siméon.



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