Opera Scotland

Rigoletto 1926British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Rigoletto

The heavier Verdi baritone roles are not usually associated with the popular lyric singer Dennis Noble's career, which usually concentrated on lighter work.

In his early years Tudor Davies had a lovely free voice, perfect for the Duke, while the black-toned bass Norman Allin would be ideal casting as Sparafucile.

Cast details are drawn from a programme for Monday, 25 October in the Edinburgh Room of Edinburgh City Library.


The Glasgow View

The Glasgow Herald reviewed the Saturday matinee of Aïda and the evening Rigoletto the following Monday, 11 October, (p6):

'The company presented Rigoletto before a packed house in the evening.  In every department the distinctive charm of the opera was effectively interpreted and the audience showed their warm appreciation.  The success of the performance was due in no small measure to the ability and highly developed artistic sense displayed by the accomplished conductor, Mr Eugene Goossens, senior. in his treatment of the score.  The cast was representative of the best talent in the company.

'A personal triumph was scored by Mr Dennis Noble in the exacting role of Rigoletto.  Both vocally and dramatically his study of the jester was a splendid piece of work.  The profligate qualities of the Duke of Mantua were effectively portrayed by Mr Tudor Davies, whose vocalism improved vastly as the performance progressed, and was at its best in the culminating tragedy.  Miss Noël Eadie, who has made a reputation for herself in the part of Gilda, again impersonated the jester's daughter, and her cultured voice was as charming as ever.  Miss Jean Duncan, as Maddalena, Mr Wm Anderson as Sparafucile, and Mr Philip Bertram as Count Monterone, also merited special praise.


The Edinburgh Critic Reports

The Scotsman of Tuesday, 26 October reviewed the second (and last) performance of the visit:

'Apart from the attractions of its plot and wealth of melody, Rigoletto, which was given at the King's Theatre last night, is interesting as marking an important advance in the composer's  conception of dramatic music.  There is the beginning of that care for the dramatically significant, which afterwards came to fruition in Aïda, and later still and more wonderfully, in Othello and Falstaff. Verdi, in any case, had an innate sense of the dramatic which even the conventions of his earlier years could not holly stifle.  In Rigoletto, however, the connection between the dramatic significance of a situation and its music becomes fairly obvious.  The method may at times be crude and melodramatic, but it has its own effectiveness.

'Last night's performance of the opera was on a very high plane of merit.  Mr Dennis Noble as the jester revealed himself as the possessor of fine dramatic qualities.  It was a really magnificent interpretation. Mr Tudor Davies sang brilliantly as the Duke, and also acted with the requisite lightness of touch.  As Gilda, Miss Sylvia Nelis, singing with a delighful purity of tone, had a great success, and the Sparafucile of Mr Norman Allin was appropriately massive and sinister in its style.  Miss Constance Willis made a remarkably convincing Maddalena, and the other characters were all in keeping.

'The various ensembles were well managed, and the staging of the work was as handsome as could be desired.  The audience was more than usuually enthusiastic, and there were many recalls in the course of the evening.  Mr Eugene Goossens, sen, conducted.'


BNOC in Scotland 1926

The company spent three weeks in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh -1927 would see them venturing further north. 

Wagner and Puccini led the field, with four operas each. There were a total of four works by three composers of the French school.  Verdi was represented by one middle-period and two late masterpieces. 

Notably there were two recently composed British works - something BNOC would never achieve again.

The 20 operas performed in Scotland on this tour were:

Mozart (Marriage of Figaro);  Wagner (Tannhäuser Tristan and IsoldeMastersingers,  Parsifal);  Verdi (Rigoletto,  Aïda,  Otello);  Gounod (Faust,  Romeo and Juliet);  Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (Bohème ToscaMadam Butterfly,  Gianni Schicchi);  Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel);  Vaughan Williams (Hugh the Drover);  Bryson (Leper's Flute).


The performance schedule was as follows:

Glasgow, w/c 27 September:  Mon 27  Aïda;  Tue 28  Carmen;  Wed 29 m Faust;  Wed 29 e Madam Butterfly;  Thu 30  Parsifal;  Fri Oct 01  Tosca;  Sat 02 m  Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 02 e  Tales of Hoffmann.

Glasgow, w/c 04 October:  Mon 04 Romeo and Juliet;  Tue 05 Otello;  Wed 06 m  No Perf;  Wed 06 e Bohème;  Thu 07 Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 08 Mastersingers;  Sat 09 m Aïda;  Sat 09 e Rigoletto.

Glasgow, w/c 11 October:  Mon 11 Parsifal;  Tue 12  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci; Wed 13 m Romeo and Juliet;  Wed 13 e Hansel and Gretel;  Thu 14  Tristan and Isolde;  Fri 15 Leper's Flute;  Sat 16 m Madam Butterfly;  Sat 16 e Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 18 October:  Mon 18 Romeo and Juliet;  Tue 19 Leper's Flute;  Wed 20 m Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 20 e  Otello;  Thu 21  Parsifal;  Fri 22  Aïda;  Sat 23 m Hugh the Drover;  Sat 23 e Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 25 October:  Mon 25 Rigoletto;  Tue 26 Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci;  Wed 27 m Madam Butterfly;  Wed 27 e Tosca;  Thu 28 Tristan and Isolde;  Fri 29 Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 30 m Parsifal;  Sat 30 e Bohème.

Performance Cast

Duke of Mantua

Tudor Davies (Oct 09, 25)

Matteo Borsa a courtier

Liddell Peddieson (Oct 25)

Marullo a courtier

Martin Quinn (Oct 25)

Count Ceprano a courtier

Bernard Ross (Oct 25)

Countess Ceprano

Marjorie Parry (Oct 25)

Rigoletto a jester

Dennis Noble (Oct 09, 25)

Count Monterone

Philip Bertram (Oct 09, 25)

Sparafucile a professional assassin

William Anderson (Oct 09)

Norman Allin (Oct 25)

Gilda Rigoletto's daughter

Noël Eadie (Oct 09)

Sylvia Nelis (Oct 25)

Giovanna Gilda's duenna

Florence Parry (Oct 25)

Page to the Duchess

Ella Bailey (Oct 25)


Brynley James (Oct 25)

Maddalena sister of Sparafucile

Jean Duncan (Oct 09)

Constance Willis (Oct 25)

Performance DatesRigoletto 1926

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

9 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

25 Oct, 19.30

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