Opera Scotland

Sonnambula 1849Italian Operatic Company

Read more about the opera Sonnambula

The late summer of 1849 saw a Scottish visit by what was billed as the Italian Operatic Company. The tour took in the Theatres Royal in Edinburgh (two weeks) and Glasgow (four), generally performing on three nights of the week.

The repertoire was chosen from major works of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini that are once again familiar today, even if they largely disappeared from sight for an intervening century.

In Edinburgh, prices of admission were: Boxes, 5s; Pit, 3s; Lower Gallery, 2s; Upper Gallery, 1s. No Second Price (i.e. no discounts for people arriving when the show was under way).

The following information is compiled from advertisements and reviews in various editions of theCaledonian Mercury and The Scotsman (for Edinburgh) with the Glasgow Gazette and Glasgow Herald.

The leading soprano, Signora Montenegro, was  billed as 'of La Scala Milan, Vienna, all the Italian Operas, and her Majesty's Theatre, London'. The other ladies were advertised as Madlle Montelli, from the Opera, Amsterdam and Madame Vittorio, from the Opera, Amsterdam.

The gentlemen were Signor Santiago, of the Academie Royale, Paris; Signor Montelli, from the San Carlo, Naples; Signor Bailini, of the Opera, Turin; Signor Vittorio, of the Opera, Amsterdam; and Signor Tommaso, from the Royal Opera, St Petersburgh.

The conductor was Monsieur A Hennin. The orchestra was recruited locally, larger than the theatre's usual band, and was led by Mr A Mackenzie, an excellent local violinist, whose son grew up to become a highly noted composer, Sir Alexander Mackenzie.

The performance schedule for the Edinburgh stay was: Tue Aug 21 Norma; Thu Aug 23 Lucia di Lammermoor; Sat Aug 25 Il barbiere di Siviglia; Tue Aug 28 Lucrezia Borgia; Thu Aug 30 L'elisir d'amoreand last act of La Favorite; Sat Sep 1 La sonnambula.

The Glasgow schedule ran thus: Tue Sep 4 Norma, Thu Sep 6 Lucrezia Borgia; Sat Sep 8 Lucia di Lammermoor; Mon Sep 10 L'elisir d'amore and last act of La Favorite; Wed Sep 12 no perf; Fri Sep 14no perf; Mon Sep 17 Lucrezia Borgia; Wed Sep 19 Norma; Fri Sep 21 tbc; Mon Sep 24 La sonnambula; Wed Sep 26 Don Pasquale; Sat Sep 29 tbc.

Some gaps remain to be filled. It seems unlikely that such popular works as Il barbiere di Siviglia and Don Pasquale should only have received one performance each, with La Favorite appearing only as a makeweight.

The Caledonian Mercury of 3 September was enthusiastic about the Edinburgh performance. 'Signora Montenegro performed Amina in a very touching and expressive manner, and was spiritedly and ably supported by Signor Santiago as Elvino, Signor Montelli as Rodolpho, and Madlle Montelli as Lisa. In many of the solos and concerted pieces the vocalists elicited great enthusiasm'.........'Amina's brilliant cavatina at the conclusion, ''Ah non giunge,'' was given with all that exuberant joyfulness so fitting to the scene, and the curtain fell amidst the acclamations of the whole audience, who again called forth the four principal performers to renew their manifestations of delight.'

The fact that the Glasgow performance was billed as the tenor Santiago's benefit night, for which he would receive a higher proportion of the takings, may indicate that Elvino was a favourite role of his.

Performance Cast

Lisa proprietor of the inn

Madlle Montelli

Amina an orphan, raised by Teresa

Signora Montenegro

Teresa proprietor of the mill

Madame Vittorio


Signor Vittorio

Elvino a prosperous young villager

Signor Santiago

Count Rodolfo an aristocrat returning from travel

Signor Montelli

Production Cast


Mons A Hennin

Performance DatesSonnambula 1849

Map List

Theatre Royal, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

1 Sep, 20.00

Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, Glasgow | Glasgow

24 Sep, 20.00

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