Opera Scotland

Goldsmith of Toledo 1922British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Goldsmith of Toledo

The British National Opera Company gave its first performance in Bradford on 6 February 1922, opening with Aïda.

BNOC's first Edinburgh season, lasting three weeks, followed quickly on 6 March, also with Aïda. It may seem enterprising that they should include a piece only premiered in 1919 in Germany. With Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann having achieved a high level of popularity in Britain during the previous decade, it is hardly surprising that a follow-up should have been sought by the BNOC management.

The Goldsmith of Toledo is described as by Offenbach, but is in fact more a pastiche - an unfinished piece filled out with first-rate inventions originally composed for his operettas, which from the perspective of 1922 seemed to be lost and gone for ever.   The Goldsmith was a piece recently premiered in Mannheim (1919), matching another of Hoffmann's tales to an assemblage of music from the composer's multitude of ephemeral and less popular works.

This concoction by Stern and Zamara received its British premiere in .Edinburgh before going on tour. It reached Covent Garden a few weeks later, on 4 May, but does not seem to have gone much further. It is likely, therefore that the score for The Goldsmith of Toledo consists of a lot of melodies that would now be quite familiar, as so many of his operettas have been successfully revived.

Another point of interest is that the subject is derived from a tale by ETA Hoffmann. It concerns a goldsmith who can't bear to be parted from his creations, so murders the new owners in order to recover the jewellery.  This is a subject also chosen during the 1920s by another composer, Paul Hindemith.  His opera Cardillac, first performed at Dresden in 1926, is still revived occasionally.

The opera was given two performances in the spring, both in Edinburgh. In the autumn there was a single performance in Glasgow and another in Edinburgh.

Cast details are from a review in he Scotsman of Saturday, 25 March.


The British Premiere

The first performance in Edinburgh on Thursday, 16 March was also the British premiere.  The Scotsman the following morning, Friday, 17 March (p4) gave its generally enthusiastic verdict:

'The artists of the British National Opera Company have reserved for Edinburgh the one absolute novelty in their repertory,  The Goldsmith of Toledo, and last night the King's Theatre was crowded on the occasion of the first performance of the work in English.  Offenbach earned his fame with the sparkling and more or less audacious light operas which delighted Paris and the rest of the world in the days of the Second Empire.  Those works are now as much things of the past as the Second Empire itself, but in looking through such operas as Orphée aux enfersThe Grand Duchess,  Geneviève de Brabant, and others, it is with regret that one sees so much attractive music fallen into oblivion.

'After many years, however, Offenbach has again become immensely popular in virtue of his Tales of Hoffmann, and a companion to that delightful work has been found in an unfinished opera by Offenbach, which has been pieced out with other music by the composer.  The libretto is taken from one of the stories of ETA Hoffmann, and is concerned with a maniacal goldsmith who designs jewellery of extraordinary beauty and is afterwards irresustibly impelled to murder the people who become possessed of it in order that he may retrieve it, and once more gloat over its perfections.  In the end he inadvertently murders his own daughter, under the impression, due to the exchange of disguises at a masquerade, that she is a Marchioness who owns a marvellous necklace of pearls of his workmanship.

'It is a fantastic story, in which tragedy and merry-making jostle each other oddly, and it is set to music which possibly lacks the instant charm of that of the Tales of Hoffmann but which is nevertheless very graceful, and with many passages which linger pleasantly in the memory.

'Mr Augustus Milner gave a powerful rendering of the part of the goldsmith, Francisco Malaveda, and alike in his singing and in his acting he presented a convincing study of the crazed wretch, by turn exulting in his own malignity and filled with anguish at the diabolical impulse which holds him captive.  It is the outstanding character of the opera, and Mr Milner's performance was certainly arresting.  Miss Eda Bennie, as his ill-fated daughter, Magdalena, and Mr Tudor Davies, as the apprentice, Lionardo, made an attractive pair of lovers, and were very effective in the music assigned to them.

'There was relatively little to do for Miss Beatrice Miranda as the Marquesa Dolores, and for Mr Walter Hyde as her lover, Don Miguel, but it was marked by the finish and distinction which was to be expected.  Among the other characters, Miss Edith Clegg as Malaveda's Housekeeper,  Mr William Anderson as a doctor and Mr Raymond Ellis as a composer, provided well-studied impersonations.

'Chorus and ballet were always pleasing, and a minuet in the Prologue and a chorus of serenaders in the second act delighted the audience, while the eighteenth century Spanish setting supplied a series of beautiful stage pictures, the final scene, outside the workshop of the goldsmith, being particularly good.

'Mr Percy Pitt conducted.  The opera seemed to catch the fancy of the audience from the very start, and its reception was most enthusiastic.'


Edinburgh in Autumn

The Scotsman of Thursday, 30 November (p7) made a further assessment:

'From the superb performance of Tristan of the previous evening, the National Opera Company last night passed to Offenbach, as represented by The Goldsmith of Toledo, which had so encouraging a reception when it was produced here for the first time in the spring of this year.  A pleasing example of romantic light opera, The Goldsmith of Toledo abounds in pretty melodies and theatrically effective situations and last night, the audience in the King's Theatre seemed even larger and more enthusiastic than on any previous occasion during the present visit of the National Opera Company.

'As the maniacal goldsmith whose obsession with the beauty of his own workmanship drives him to murder in his determination to recover his jewels from the customers to whom he reluctantly disposes of them, Mr Percy Heming gave an exceedngly powerful performance.   Miss Leah Rusel-Myre made a charming Marquesa, and Mr Walter Hyde, as her lover, Don Miguel, acted and sang with distinction.  Mr Tudor Davies, as the goldsmith's apprentice, gave further confirmation to the promise of a distinguished future, which his work during the present visit of the Company has afforded, and the Magdalena of Miss Eda Bennie was delightful in the purity of its vocalisation.

'The remaining characters were in keeping, and with the pretty minuet in the prologue, the duet for the apprentice and his sweetheart, the serenade, and the duets for Don Miguel and the Marquesa, and for the Marquesa and Magdalena, the opera was full of pleasant sentiment.  There are excellent opportunities for chorus and ballet,  and these were turned to the best account.

'Mr Julius Harrison conducted.'


BNOC in Scotland - 1922 (Spring and Autumn)

This first season saw BNOC coming to Scotland twice. The spring visit, in March, consisted of three weeks in Edinburgh (King's Theatre).  In the autumn there were four weeks - two at Glasgow Theatre Royal, and two more in Edinburgh.

A total number of nineteen operas were included  - an astonishing number for a newly established company.  Wagner far outweighs any other composers, most notably Verdi:

They were by Mozart (Magic Flute);  Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Tristan and Isolde,   MastersingersValkyrieSiegfriedParsifal); Verdi (Aïda); Saint-Saêns (Samson and Delilah); Gounod (Faust); Offenbach (Goldsmith of Toledo);  Bizet (Carmen); Leoncavallo (Pagliacci); Puccini (BohèmeToscaMadam Butterfly); Debussy (Prodigal Son);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana); Charpentier (Louise).

The schedule was as follows:


Edinburgh, w/c 6 March:  Mon 6 Aida;  Tue 7 Parsifal;  Wed 8 mat Cav & Pag;  Wed 8 eve Tannhäuser; Thu 9 Carmen;  Fri 10 Samson and Delilah;  Sat 11 mat Madam Butterfly;  Sat 11 eve Faust.

Edinburgh, w/c 13 March:  Mon 13 Mastersingers;  Tue 14 Magic Flute;  Wed 15 mat Samson and Delilah;  Wed 15 eve Carmen; Thu 16 Goldsmith of Toledo;  Fri 17 Madam Butterfly;  Sat 18 mat Bohème;  Sat 18 eve Aïda.

Edinburgh, w/c 20 March:  Mon 20 Parsifal;  Tue 21 Samson and Delilah;  Wed 22 mat Parsifal;  Wed 22 eve Bohème; Thu 23 Mastersingers;  Fri 24 Goldsmith of Toledo;  Sat 25 mat Aïda;  Sat 25 eve Carmen.


Glasgow, w/c 6 November:  Mon 6 Parsifal;  Tue 7 Magic Flute;  Wed 8 mat Tosca;  Wed 8 eve Faust;  Thu 9 Louise;  Fri 10 Samson and Delilah;  Sat 11 mat Bohème;  Sat 11 eve Prodigal Son & Pagliacci.

Glasgow, w/c 13 November:  Mon 13 Aïda;  Tue 14 Goldsmith of Toledo;  Wed 15 mat Parsifal;  Wed 15 eve Magic Flute; Thu 16 Mastersingers;  Fri 17 Louise;  Sat 18 mat Madam Butterfly;  Sat 18 eve Faust.

Edinburgh, w/c 20 November:  Mon 20 Magic Flute;  Tue 21 Valkyrie;  Wed 22 mat Bohème;  Wed 22 eve Samson and Delilah; Thu 23 Aïda;  Fri 24 Louise;  Sat 25 mat Faust;  Sat 25 eve Tosca.

Edinburgh, w/c 27 November:  Mon 27 Siegfried;  Tue 28 Tristan and Isolde;  Wed 29 mat Magic Flute;  Wed 29 eve Goldsmith of Toledo; Thu 30 Louise;  Fri 1 Dec Bohème;  Sat 2 mat Parsifal;  Sat 2 eve Samson and Delilah.

Performance Cast

Francisco Malaveda a goldsmith

Augustus Milner (Mar 16, 24)

Percy Heming (Nov 29 e)

Marchesa Dolores

Beatrice Miranda (Mar 16, 24)

Leah Rusel-Myre (Nov 29 e)

Don Miguel the Marchesa's lover

Walter Hyde (Mar 16, 24; Nov 29 e)

Magdalena Malaveda's daughter, in love with Lionardo

Eda Bennie (Mar 16, 24; Nov 29 e)

Lionardo Malaveda's apprentice, in love with Magdalena

Tudor Davies (Mar 16, 24; Nov 29 e)

Carmona a composer

Raymond Ellis (Mar 16)

Sydney Russell (Mar 24)

Mendoza a doctor

William Anderson (Mar 16, 24)

Teresa Malaveda's housekeeper

Edith Clegg (Mar 16, 24)

Performance DatesGoldsmith of Toledo 1922

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

16 Mar, 19.00 24 Mar, 19.00 29 Nov, 19.00

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

14 Nov, 14.00

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