Opera Scotland

Benvenuto Cellini 1936Glasgow Grand Opera Society

Read more about the opera Benvenuto Cellini

This was a Scottish premiere. The only previous performance in Britain had been in 1853 in London, when the work had been a complete failure. Here the opera was at a disadvantage since it was inevitably compared unfavourably with the Society's 1935 staging of the composer's masterpiece, The Trojans. Nothing could compete with the memory of that, but at least the music's great vitality was recognised, even if the structure was seriously at fault.

The Roman Carnival Overture, no doubt familiar to many of the audience from orchestral concerts, was played between two of the scenes. For the Carnival itself, Morag Martin directed a pantomime of King Midas, or The Ass's Ears. in which players from Glasgow's Little Theatre performed the roles of Midas (G Stanley Pritchard), Harlequin (Wm. Lambie) and Pasquarello (Wm. Macfarlane).

One oddity of the production to modern eyes is the fact that the character of the Pope is renamed, appearing as Cardinal Salviati - presumably, even in the thirties in Glasgow, there may have been objections to portraying a Pontiff on stage. The ban on the staging of 'Biblical' operas such as Samson and Delilah or Nabucco had been cleared away before the war.

The Society's Berlioz exploration continued with a vengeance during the remainder of the week, with the other evenings devoted to Beatrice and Benedict (preceded by a rare Schubert piece, The Faithful Warrior).

Cast details are from a programme in the Mitchell Library collection.

Performance Cast

Balducci Papal Treasurer

William Noble

Teresa Balducci's daughter

Dorothy Pugh

Benvenuto Cellini a Florentine sculptor

Eric Starling

Fieramosca Sculptor to the Pope

G Sterling Mavor

Francesco a workman in Cellini's foundry

A Taggart Whyte

Bernardino a workman in Cellini's foundry

William Dickie


James Newall

Ascanio Cellini's apprentice

Nora Booth

Pompeo matal founder to the Pope

James Newall

Pope Clement VII

John Nobbs (Mar 23, 26)

Patrick Moir (Mar 25, 28)

Performance DatesBenvenuto Cellini 1936

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

23 Mar, 19.30 25 Mar, 19.30 26 Mar, 19.30 28 Mar, 14.00

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