Opera Scotland

Trojans 1935Glasgow Grand Opera Society

Read more about the opera Troyens

This British premiere was an event of astonishing importance for the Scottish musical world, outweighing even the previous year's Idomeneo. As with that excellent production, the direction, including sets, costumes and choreography, was by William Henry to designs by Glasgow School of Art. Given the similarity of setting, it is likely that some economies could be made on The Trojans by re-utilising elements of the Idomeneo designs from the previous year. The orchestra, part professional and part amateur, contained many members of the Scottish Orchestra, even if they did not play under that name. The English translation, provided specially by Professor Dent, was still in use for the Scottish Opera staging of 1969 and 1972.

A notable new recruit to the company is a young Scottish baritone, William Dickie, the elder (and bigger) brother of tenor Murray Dickie. He had a substantial career after the war, singing the title role in Rigoletto in Florence in 1944, and recording the role of Marullo in the famous La Scala recording of that work with Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano and Tito Gobbi. Among his Covent Garden appearances in the fifties was the role of Escamillo in a Carmen cast that included Jon Vickers as Don José and Joan Sutherland as Micaëla.

While it is said that these first British performances of The Trojans were spread over two nights, that is not strictly the case. The final Saturday began at 2.15 with The Fall of Troy, concluding at 7.30 with The Trojans at Carthage. Admittedly those audience members, surely the great majority, who chose to attend both sessions, will have seen one opera for the price of two - an unusual reversal of the Scottish reputation for thrift. The Society gave four performances of the first part, but only three of the second. Thus The Fall of Troy was played on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, plus the Saturday matinee. The Trojans at Carthage was only seen on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

We have followed the same form of presentation here as for the Scottish Opera staging of 1990. Thus Part I, shown on the 18th, was followed by Part II on the 19th. We only show Part I, accepting that this represents a full performance. The anomaly is for Friday 22 when, in effect, only half a performance was given.

This only causes one major problem with casting. The society's leading tenor, Guy McCrone, sang all three performances of Carthage, but only the first and last of Troy (therefore singing the entire role on Saturday). Harold Green sang Troy only, in the two central performances. Nora Booth sang the entire role of Ascanius, except for Thursday (the second performance of Carthage). Anna only appears in Carthage, but that role was divided, with Margaret Dick doing only the opening and closing performances, even though she still sings the short part of Cassandra's Ghost three times. Strangely, the short role of Hector's Ghost was sung by William Dickie on those nights when, in Troy, he also sang Priam - the family resemblance no doubt useful. On Carthage nights he did not appear at all. It looks as though the meticulous preparation must have included the careful provision of covers for most parts.

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

Performance Cast

Cassandra a prophetess (Cassandre)

Jenny Black

Ascanius son of Aeneas (Ascagne)

Nora Booth (Exc Mar 21)

Moira Meighan (Mar 21)

Hecuba Queen of Troy, wife of Priam (Hécube)

Mary Luckhurst

Aeneas a Trojan commander, son of Venus and Anchises (Énée)

Guy F McCrone (Exc Mar 20, 22)

Harold Green (Mar 20, 22)

Choroebus a young Asian, fiancé of Cassandra (Chorèbe)

Archibald Morrison

Pantheus a Trojan priest and friend of Aeneas (Panthée)

Patrick Moir

Ghost of Hector Priam's eldest son

William Dickie (Act 2)

William Noble (Act 5)

Priam King of Troy

William Dickie

Trojan Soldier

J Howat Murdoch

Helenus a Trojan priest, son of Priam

Thomas Reid

Greek Captain

John Blair

Andromache widow of Hector

Helen Meikle

Astyanax son of Hector and Andromache

John Leach

Dido Queen of Carthage, widow of Sichaeus, Prince of Tyre (Didon)

Dorothy Pugh

Anna Dido's sister

Margaret Dick (Mar 19, 23)

Retta McAllister (Mar 21)

Narbal adviser to Dido

William Noble

Iopas a Tyrien minstrel at Dido's court

William Graham

Mercury Mercure

George McClements

Hylas a young Phrygian sailor

Thomas Reid

First Soldier

Hugh Farquhar

Second Soldier

John Blair

Ghost of Cassandra

Margaret Dick

Ghost of Choroebus

Archibald Morrison

Ghost of Priam

John Couper

Performance DatesTrojans 1935

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

18 Mar, 19.30 20 Mar, 19.30 22 Mar, 19.30 23 Mar, 14.15

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