Opera Scotland

Madam Butterfly 1920O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Madama Butterfly

The O'Mara company made two visits to Scotland in 1920, and Aberdeen received them for a fortnight in the spring and a further one in the autumn. The length of both these visits may have been due to the much-lamented closure of Her Majesty's Theatre in Dundee in 1919. It had been a regular date for O'Mara during the war years, but had just been acquired, in rather controversial fashion, by a London-based cinema chain. It would be a couple of years before the big Dundee variety house, the King's, was made available for opera. The people of the north were the gainers.

The Aberdeen schedules were:

Week commencing 19 April: Mon Bohème; Tue Tannhäuser; Wed Lily of Killarney; Thu Madam Butterfly; Fri Marriage of Figaro; Sat mat Traviata; Sat eve Faust.

Week commencing 26 April: Mon Samson and Delilah; Tue Un ballo in maschera; Wed Bohemian Girl; Thu Wally; Fri Manon Lescaut; Sat mat Faust; Sat eve Trovatore.

Week commencing 22 November: Mon Cav & Pag; Tue Bohème; Wed Maritana; Thu Faust; Fri Romeo and Juliet; Sat mat Rigoletto; Sat eve Tannhäuser.

Week commencing 29 November: Mon Lohengrin; Tue Samson and Delilah; Wed Puritan's Daughter; Thu Trovatore; Fri Seraglio; Sat mat Madam Butterfly; Sat eve Lily of Killarney.

This repertoire contains many of the standard favourites of the day - perhaps Carmen is the only obvious omission. There are several distinct novelties - not just Verdi (Un ballo in maschera), Gounod (Romeo and Juliet) or Puccini (Manon Lescaut) but also Catalani (La Wally) and even Balfe (The Puritan's Daughter). The fact that the little-known Mozart works, Figaro and Seraglio, were both scheduled for a Friday implies that the local orchestral players would need some extra rehearsals during the week.

The programme gives timings as follows - three acts of 50, 45 and 35 minutes, with interval of ten minutes after the first act. Total duration of the performance was therefore 2 hours 40 minutes.

Cast details for 22 April and 4 December (matinee) are from programmes in Aberdeen City Library.

Performance Cast

Lieutenant F B Pinkerton U S Navy

Joseph O'Mara (Apr 22)

John Pegg (Dec 4m)

Goro marriage broker

Mr A Locker

Suzuki Cio-Cio-San's servant

Mabel Dennis

Sharpless U S Consul in Nagasaki

Wilfred Davis

Cio-Cio-San known as Madam Butterfly

Florence Morden


Maud Baker (Apr 22)

Miss Hill (Dec 4m)


Miss Davis


Miss Lamont (Apr 22)

Enid Birkenhead (Dec 4m)

Imperial Commissioner

David Evans

Official Registrar

Frank Clarke

Bonze a priest, Cio-Cio-San's uncle

Mr Colbert

Prince Yamadori

Thomas J Bevan

Kate Pinkerton

Edna Penville (Apr 22)

Miss Fordram (Dec 4m)

Performance DatesMadam Butterfly 1920

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

22 Apr, 19.30 4 Dec, 14.15

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