Opera Scotland

Sorcerer 1878Comedy Opera Company

Read more about the opera Sorcerer

On its first tour in Scotland, The Sorcerer was an immediate success, being seen in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. In the autumn it returned, with the weeks divided between that work and its successor, HMS Pinafore. Dundee was now added to the centres visited. Glasgow Theatre Royal and Her Majesty's in Aberdeen were newly-built, while the Georgian and obsolete Theatres Royal in Edinburgh and Dundee would be replaced within the next decade (by the Lyceum and Her Majesty's respectively).

The spring tour found The Sorcerer followed every evening by a brief after-piece, in the form of Offenbach's Breaking the Spell. In the autumn, the curtain-raiser every evening was a farce entitled Congenial Souls, by Mr J H Ryley, a well-known comedian and a member of the touring company.

The fact that in the autumn The Sorcerer was played during the second half of the week, with Pinafore on the first three evenings, rather confirms the view that the earlier piece was thought to be superior. Indeed, when The Mikado opened in London in 1885, the critic from The Times took the view that The Sorcerer was still superior to all the partners' works that had followed it, even including The Mikado itself.

The cast for the autumn is from The Comet in the Lamb Collection 253 (5), in Dundee Central Library, augmented by details for spring from the brief review in the Glasgow Herald of Tuesday 9 April.

The lead tenor George Bentham had created the part of Alexis in the original cast, but, while his acting was adequate, he was not considered to be much of a singer. Indeed the provincial tour may have been seen as a demotion, if not actually a punishment. In contrast, the contralto Rosina Brandram began her career with the touring company, but became a member of the London team, creating many of the later roles, including Lady Blanche,  Katisha, Dame Hannah, Dame Carruthers and the Duchess of Plaza-Toro.

Furneaux Cook remained with the company for many years, while Arthur Rousbey became better known in opera - he even ran his own company for several years in the nineties. 

The conductor Hamilton Clarke was one of Sullivan's assistants, and arranged the overture to The Mikado.

Further tour dates to be confirmed.

Performance Cast

Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre an elderly Baronet

Arthur Rousbey (Autumn)

Alexis of the Grenadier Guards, Sir Marmaduke's Son

George Bentham (Spring)

Mr C J Campbell (Autumn)

Dr Daly Vicar of Ploverleigh

Furneaux Cook (Spring)

Michael Dwyer (Autumn)


Richard Cummings (Autumn)

John Wellington Wells of J W Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers

Mr J H Ryley (Spring; Autumn)

Annabella, Lady Sangazure a Lady of Ancient Lineage

Rosina Brandram (Spring)

Fanny Edwards (Autumn)

Aline Lady Sangazure's Daughter, betrothed to Alexis

Duglas Gordon (Spring; Autumn)

Mrs Partlet a Pew-Opener

Mabel French (Autumn)

Constance Mrs Partlet's Daughter

Theresa Cummings (Autumn)

Performance DatesSorcerer 1878

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Apr, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

29 Apr, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

6 May, 19.30 7 May, 19.30 8 May, 19.30 9 May, 19.30 10 May, 19.30 11 May, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Dundee | Dundee

31 Oct, 19.30 1 Nov, 19.30 2 Nov, 19.00

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