Opera Scotland

Bohème 1922British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Bohème

1921 was rather quiet, operatically speaking, due to the collapse of the Beecham company, which went into liquidation in December 1920.

it did not take long for a successor to appear, however, and the British National Opera Company made its first appearance, in Bradford, on 6 February 1922. Most of its productions were inherited from Beecham, and many of the artists.

They quickly came to Edinburgh, first stop after Bradford, but did not reach Glasgow until the autumn.

Cast details for the matinee on 11 November are from programmes in the A M Gardiner collection at the Mitchell Library.

Mignon Nevada was a very highly regarded soprano of the time, a regular member of Beecham's company. This opening 1922 season saw her only appearances with BNOC.

One unusual feature of this season was the casting of baritone Powell Edwards.  In the spring he sang the more important student role of Marcello, while in the autumn he had apparently been demoted to the more junior part of Schaunard, which he had previously sung with Beecham.


An Edinburgh Opinion

The Scotsman of Monday, 20 March (p6) summed up the Saturday performances, Aïda in the evening and Bohème at the matinee:

'Saturday's audiences at the King's Theatre should have gratified all who have at heart the interests of the British National Opera Company, for both in the afternoon and at night the house was crowded.  A little disappointing at some of the earlier performances, the attendance at the King's Theatre has since then reflected an increasing public interest and enthusiasm, and the prospects for the remainder of the stay of the company in Edinburgh are most encouraging.  Particularly in the initial season of the new venture, however, the maximum of public support is required for only thus can the eenterprise be given that solid basis which is absolutely essential if any genuinely progressive artistic policy is to be pursued.  It is not enough that the company should be able to score successes with popular favourites.  There should be sufficient financial resources to justify the risks entailed in the production of unfamiliar works, and sufficient confidence that the public will give such works an adequate hearing.  Although there has been a substantial improvement within recent years, the British operatic repertory is still too restricted.

'Saturday afternoon's performance of La Bohème called for nothing but praise.  There was an interesting cast which included Miss Mignon Nevada as Mimì, and Mr Tudor Davies as Rudolf.   They were both impersonations which supplied satisfying impressions of the poetic aspects of the characters.  The Musetta of Miss Lilian Stanford was full of charm, and the Marcel of Mr Powell Edwards,  Mr W Anderson's Colline, and Mr Frederic Collier's Schaunard worthily completed the group of needy followers of the Arts who live merrily in their garret.'


The Glasgow View

The Glasgow Herald of Monday, 13 November (p7) reviewed both Saturday sessions - Bohème in the afternoon and an evening double bill of Prodigal Son (Debussy) and Pagliacci:

'The performance on Saturdasy afternoon of Puccini's La Bohème attracted a large audience to the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.  This was the first of the Puccini operas to be produced here, and with many people it probably remains first also in favour, though Madame Butterfly, which will be given this week, is no doubt a formidable competitor for the leading place.   In both these operas the human interest is strong in its appeal, and particularly so in the case of La Bohème,  where almost every member of the cast enlists the sympathy of the audience.  The story of the opera is a rather theatrical compilation from Murger's great book, but any lack of subtlety on the dramatic side is easily overlooked while listening to Puccini's melodious music.

The performance by the British National Opera Company was good in every way.  The four Bohemians were presented by Messrs Tudor Davies, William Michael,  William Anderson, and Powell Edwards,  and Mimì and Musetta by Miss  Leah Rusel-Myre and Miss May Blyth, respectively.  These combined to sing and act the various episodes in convincing fashion, being happily assisted at different times by Mr Alfred Huntly in the roles of Benoit and Alcindoro.  Staging and lighting were as excellent as ever.  Mr Aylmer Buesst 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

Rodolfo a poet

Tudor Davies (Mar 18 m; Nov 11 m)

Marcello a painter

Powell Edwards (Mar 18 m)

William Michael (Nov 11 m)

Colline a philosopher

William Anderson (Mar 18 m; Nov 11 m)

Schaunard a musician

Frederic Collier (Mar 18 m)

Powell Edwards (Nov 11 m)

Mimì a seamstress

Mignon Nevada (Mar 18 m)

Leah Rusel-Myre (Nov 11 m)

Benoit the students' landlord

Alfred Huntly (Nov 11 m)

Parpignol a toy vendor

Seph Jones (Nov 11 m)

Musetta a grisette

Lilian Stanford (Mar 18 m)

May Blyth (Nov 11 m)

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Alfred Huntly (Nov 11 m)

Custom-house Sergeant

Leon Russell (Nov 11 m)

Performance DatesBohème 1922

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

18 Mar, 14.00 22 Mar, 19.45 22 Nov, 14.00 1 Dec, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

11 Nov, 14.00

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