Opera Scotland

Bohème 1926Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Bohème

It may seem odd that the first performance on this tour of what is now one of the most popular works in the repertoire should occur on a Friday. After all, this second last evening of the week was generally reserved for the least familiar opera - the novelty that the resident band would need to study during the week. But then this opera was by no means as popular as it is now, certainly lagging in popularity far behind the later Madam Butterfly. Note that the company was using the sets created for the original British premiere (at Manchester in 1897) in the presence of the composer.

The Scotsman of Saturday, 20 February reported:

'Under the new direction, which came into being a few years ago, there has been a notable advance in quality in every department of the Company. This advance has had no more striking illustration than last night's performance of Puccini's La bohème. It was under the Carl Rosa auspices that the opera was first heard in this country, and a good performance of the work has become a matter of tradition. No previous performances, however, have had the artistic completeness of that of last night.'

'There was an excellent cast. Mr Ben Williams as Rudolph, and Miss Jennie Bleasdale as Mimi, improved upon the fine work which they did in The Barber of Seville on Wednesday evening. Both interpretations touched just the right note of poetic feeling. A newcomer, Miss Ida Cowey, made a delightful Musetta. Her light soprano voice is of charming quality, and there was an amount of character in her rendering, and an artistic intelligence, which gave great promise for her future.'

'The treatment of the bustling street scene was decidedly clever in the impression which it conveyed of a much larger assemblage than was actually on stage. The scenery of the original production, as supervised by Puccini, was a great asset, and the toll-gate scene made a particularly fine stage picture. As in the other performances of the week, there was a satisfying attention to detail, both in the music and in the business of the stage, which placed the whole performance on a high plane of artistic achievement, while by no means least of many good qualities, every word could be heard distinctly.'


This seven week long Scottish tour, from 15 February to 3 April 1926, visited Edinburgh (two weeks), Glasgow (four) and Dundee (one). A highly unusual feature of the repertoire is the complete absence of operas by Wagner, still being given by the larger BNOC company that was also touring at this time. The Barber of Seville and La bohème, which would be a mainstay of the Carl Rosa company for the rest of its existence, now make a prominent appearance.

The Edinburgh schedule was:

First week (commencing 15 Feb): Mon Madam Butterfly, Tue Samson and Delilah, Wed Barber of Seville, Thu Faust, Fri Bohème, Sat mat Carmen, Sat eve Bohemian Girl.

Second week (commencing 22 Feb): Mon Cav & Pag, Tue Rigoletto, Wed Butterfly, Thu Maritana, Fri Trovatore, Sat mat Bohème, Sat eve Carmen.

Glasgow saw all of the above, plus a single performances of The Marriage of Figaro. a proposed performance of Fidelio on 26 March was replaced by Barber of Seville according to the Glasgow Herald of 27 March. 

Dundee's programme was equally popular - Cav & Pag, Barber, Rigoletto, Bo Girl, Bohème, Butterfly and Maritana.

Performance Cast

Rodolfo a poet

Ben Williams (Feb 19)

Marcello a painter

Flintoff Moore (Feb 19)

Colline a philosopher

John Kelly (Feb 19)

Schaunard a musician

Hubert Dunkerley (Feb 19)

Benoit the students' landlord

Frederick Clendon (Feb 19)

Mimì a seamstress

Jennie Bleasdale (Feb 19)

Musetta a grisette

Ida Cowey (Feb 19)

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Frederick Clendon (Feb 19)

Performance DatesBohème 1926

Map List

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

19 Feb, 19.15 27 Feb, 14.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Mar, 19.15 19 Mar, 19.15 24 Mar, 19.15

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

2 Apr, 19.15

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2022

Site by SiteBuddha