Opera Scotland

Faust 1922British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Faust

This performance contributed to the first week of a three week visit - the first occasion on which the recently-formed BNOC came to Glasgow. While Faust may have seemed a rather unenterprising choice, it had the benefit of familiarity - a useful factor when the next evening was to see orchestra and chorus tackle a rare performance of Charpentier's Louise, in a staging inherited from the defunct Beecham company.

Cast details for Saturday, 11 March are as reviewed in the Scotsman of 13 March (p6) and for the Saturday matinee, 25 November there is a report in the Scotsman of 27 November (p6).  Performers for 8 November are from a programme in the A M Gardiner collection in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.


The Spring Tour

The Scotsman of Monday, 13 March (p6) gave its opinion of the Saturday performances:

'In Faust, which was conducted by Mr Herbert Withers, there was a particular interest in seeing the new tenor, Mr Tudor Davies, as Faust.  As in his Turiddu and Don José, he displayed an enjoyable lyric quality of tone, which, with increasing maturity and experience should carry him far.

'Miss Mignon Nevada's revived pleasant memories of her former appearance in the part, under the Beecham management;  and Mr Robert Radford's Mephistopheles, now a well-known interpretation, was as fine as ever.

'Miss Olive Townend was an attractive Siebel, with a suggestion of boyishness alike in her singing and acting which Siebels do not always supply;  the Valentine of Mr Powell Edwards was powerful; and Miss Edith Clegg as Martha, and Mr Philip Bertram as Wagner worthily completed the cast.

Chorus and ballet were both good, and the opera as a whole had a most enthusiastic reception.


Edinburgh in the Autumn

The Scotsman of Monday, 27 November (p6) reported on the Saturday evening Tosca, as well as the matinee of Faust:

'Gounod and Puccini provided an enjoyable day for opera-lovers on Saturday, with the additional attraction that Puccini was represented by one of his less familiar works.  In the afternoon there was an excellent performance of Faust.  Miss Sarah Fischer made a delightful Marguerite instinct with that youthful freshness in which too many Marguerites are apt to be deficient.  There was a beautiful quality in her singing in the Garden Scene, and the Jewel Song was given brilliantly, but with none of the hardness of tone with which soprano brilliance is frequently accompanied,  while in the Prison Scene, where the prima-donna so often rises superior to the actress, there was a fine realisation of the pathos of the situation.

'Mr Tudor Davies as Faust sang with great charm, and with a satisfactory absence of the sentimental exaggeration into which many tenors fall.  There was a particularly interesting Mephistopheles, Mr Alfred Valenti, a newcomer to the company.  Alike in interpretaion and in make-up, it was an enjoyable departure from the conventional.  Mr Valenti's Mephistopheles was a sombrely splendid,  formidable gentleman of the period, not too far removed in character from his surroundings.  It was a genuinely powerful impersonation, which suggested that much might be done to bring Gounod's opera into line with present-day artistic ideas  Some of the absurdities which a bygone generation accepted have been abolished, but it would be an interesting experiment to remodel the entire production of Faust.

Miss May Blyth was an attractive Siebel;  Mr William Michael gave a powerful rendering of the death scene; and the Martha of Miss Edith Clegg and the Wagner of Mr Philip Bertram completed a good cast.  Chorus, ballet and orchestra were all admirable.  Mr Percy Pitt 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

Faust a learned doctor

Tudor Davies (Mar 11 e, Nov 8 e, 25 m)

Méphistophélès the devil

Robert Radford (Mar 11 e)

Alfred Valenti (Nov 8 e, 25 m)

Valentin Marguerite's brother

Powell Edwards (Mar 11 e)

Andrew Sachs (Nov 8 e)

William Michael (Nov 25 m)

Wagner a student of Dr Faust

Philip Bertram (Mar 11 e; Nov 8 e, 25 m)


Mignon Nevada (Mar 11 e)

Elsy Treweek (Nov 8 e)

Sarah Fischer (Nov 25 m)

Siébel a student of Dr Faust, in love with Marguerite

Olive Townend (Mar 11 e)

May Blyth (Nov 8 e, 25 m)

Marthe a neighbour

Edith Clegg (Mar 11 e; Nov 8 e, 25 m)

Performance DatesFaust 1922

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Nov, 19.00

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