Opera Scotland

Phoebus and Pan

Tours by decade

1910s - 2 tours

1918 - Beecham Grand Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1919 - Beecham Grand Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

1920s - 1 tour

1923 - British National Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

Tours by location


Johann Sebastian Bach





First Performance: tbc (1918).

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 1 November 1918.



Phoebus and Pan was a short comic opera adapted by Eugene Goossens jnr (1893-1963), Sir Thomas Beecham's assistent. It used as its source a short secular cantata by J S Bach, to which were added some dance sequences adapted from Bach's French Suites. The result was considered to be quite successful as an entertainment in the style of a pastoral entertainment from the 18th century, as though an opera-ballet by Rameau had been blended with British elements in the style of Fielding or Smollett.

The idea of tagging such a work on to complete an evening otherwise made up of Puccini's La bohème does seem slightly odd.  Whe BNOC picked it up in 1922, they paired in a double bill with Pagliacci or Gianni Schicchi.



Phoebus, the god Apollo (tenor)

Pan, god of shepherds (baritone)

Midas (tenor)

Tmolus, a mountain-god (tenor)

Mercury (mezzo-soprano)

Momus (soprano)


Plot Summary

Pan, whose playing of his pipes is generally agreed to be wonderful, becomes arrogant, and challenges Apollo to a competition. The mountain-god Tmolus is nominated as judge. When Pan plays, the results are superb. However when Apollo plays his lyre the music has far greater subtlety and finesse. The verdict of both audience and judge in Apollo's favour is clear. Only one disputes it - this is Midas, now a follower of Pan, and Apollo, in fury, gives him the ears of an ass to reflect his poor taste.

The Cast

 god of shepherds
 the god Apollo
 a mountain-god

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2024

Site by SiteBuddha