Opera Scotland

Nozze di Figaro 1885Sydney Hill's Royal English Opera Company

Read more about the opera Marriage of Figaro

An outfit called the Royal English Opera Company was frequently on the go, touring the country from a base claimed to be Covent Garden.  Managers came and went, as did singers.  The 1885 version was under the management of Mr Sydney R Hill, with the Musical Direction under conductor Julian Edwards.  The Chorus Master was a familiar name in the provinces, Mr John Pew, who had conducted for Henry Corri's similar company fifteen years earlier, and also worked extensively with Carl Rosa.

Several of the singers were also Carl Rosa regulars, including two Americans, the soprano Julia Gaylord and tenor Fred Packard.  Contralto Lucy Franklein had spent several years with the company, and Annie Cook joined them the following season.  Arthur Rousbey had been an early member of D'Oyly Carte's set up, and would soon establish his own company.

This tour, apparently the first Scottish visit by such a company for at least five years, took in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.  In the latter city a new theatre was about to open, and the venerable Theatre Royal would become a Music Hall soon after this visit, before succumbing to the inevitable fire.

All venues saw a repertoire of The Marriage of Figaro, Il trovatore, Faust, Maritana and The Lily of Killarney.  Don Giovanni, a rarity at the time, enjoyed a great success in the central belt, but was not scheduled for the outlying venues.  Aberdeen saw Sonnambula, a popular favourite, but the music critic of the Dundee Courier & Argus complained, and the Dundee programme was changed, with Don Giovanni replacing Sonnambula on the final Saturday.  Sadly, the critic's success did not extend to his being able to review the performance the following Monday.


Sydney Hill's Royal English Opera in Scotland - 1885

The operas toured were: Mozart (Marriage of Figaro,  Don Giovanni);  Bellini (Sonnambula);  Benedict (Lily of Killarney);  Wallace (Maritana);  Verdi (Trovatore);  Gounod (Faust).

The Scottish tour schedule was:

Aberdeen w/c 23 March:  Mon 23 Maritana;  Tue 24 Lily of Killarney;  Wed 25 Trovatore;  Thu 26 Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 27 Faust;  Sat 28 Sonnambula.

Dundee w/c 30 Marcch: Mon 30 Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 31 Maritana;  Wed 1 April Lily of Killarney; Thu 2 Faust;  Fri 3 Trovatore; Sat 4 Don Giovanni.

Further performances to be confirmed.


Cast details from the Glasgow Herald, Dundee Advertiser, Aberdeen Journal and Dundee Courier & Argus.

Further dates for Edinburgh and Glasgow to be confirmed.

Performance Cast

Figaro the Count's valet

Arthur Rousbey

Susanna the Countess's maid

Emily Parkinson

Cherubino the Count's page

Julia Gaylord

Count Almaviva

Albert McGuckin

Bartolo a doctor, the Countess's former guardian

Edward Griffin

Marcellina Bartolo's housekeeper

Annie Cook

Don Basilio a priest and music master

John Belton

Countess Almaviva

Philippine Siedle

Antonio a gardener, Susanna's uncle

Victor Roberts

Don Curzio a lawyer

Mr F Kinnaird

Barbarina daugher of Antonio

Florence Arnott

Performance DatesNozze di Figaro 1885

Map List

Royal Princess's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

2 Mar, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

26 Mar, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Dundee | Dundee

30 Mar, 19.30

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