Opera Scotland

Pagliacci 1926British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Pagliacci

The main point of interest in this Pagliacci, apart from the curious fact that it followed Gianni Schicchi rather than Cavalleria Rusticana, must have been the presence of the powerful singing actor Frank Mullings as Canio. Mullings had joined the company mainly for Otello, but was suited to some other roles.

Cast details for 12 October are taken from the Herald review and for 26 October from a programme in the Edinburgh Room of Edinburgh City Library.


The Glasgow Review

The Glasgow Herald wrote up the double bill on Wednesday, 13 October (p9):

'Puccini and Leoncavallo were the composers in an Italian double bill presented by the British National Opera Company last evening in the Theatre Royal Glasgow.  Chronological order would have placed Gianni Schicchi after Pagliacci, and, although chronology does not matter in this case, there is something to be said for finishing a programme such as was offered last evening on the lighter note supplied by Puccini in his setting of the famous old story rather than on the melodramatic yellow-press-like note furnished, albeit most tunefully, and with a fine set of dramatic values, in Pagliacci...

'In Pagliacci Miss Kathlyn Hilliard tok the part of Nedda with great success, singing in her best style and giving in her impersonation a detailed picture of all that she thought and felt. In the duet with Silvio in the first act, she succeeded with the help of her worthy partner, Mr Dennis Noble, in making the scene entirely interesting; and it is right that so rare an experience should be gratefully recorded.

Mr Frank Mullings and Mr Robert Parker were in their usual roles, and appeared with all the customary success. The cast was completed by Mr Frederick Davies as Beppe. 

The chorus sang with a fine freshness of quality, and the whole performance went well. 

Mr Aylmer Buesst conducted both operas.'


The Edinburgh Perspective

The Scotsman of Wednesday, 27 October (p8) also commented:

'From the polished humour of Gianni Schicchi to the raw melodrama of Pagliacci was a rather violent transition, and one perhaps not wholly to the advantage of Leoncavallo's popular work.There was a notably excellent cast.  Mr Frank Mullings was the Canio, singing and acting with the reserve which has been so enjoyable a feature of his work during the present visit of the Company, but with a very effective transport of emotion in the climax of the tragedy.  The Tonio of Mr Percy Heming was very good, the delivery of the Prologue being highly artistic, and Miss Kathlyn Hilliard was an attractive and suitably dramatic Nedda, the play scene being very skilfully done. Mr Dennis Noble as Silvio and Mr Frederick Davies as Beppe completed the cast.  Chorus and orchestra were good.'


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

Tonio a player

Robert Parker (Oct 12)

Percy Heming (Oct 26)

Canio leader of the players

Frank Mullings (Oct 12, 26)

Nedda Canio's wife

Kathlyn Hilliard (Oct 12, 26)

Beppe a player

Frederick Davies (Oct 12, 26)

Silvio a villager

Dennis Noble (Oct 12, 26)

Performance DatesPagliacci 1926

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

26 Oct, 19.30

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