Opera Scotland

Bohème 1955Covent Garden Opera

Read more about the opera Bohème

The 1955 provincial tour by the Covent Garden Opera was slightly unusual in that both central belt cities were included. Usually a choice was made between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The unusual opera, played at all venues, was William Walton's recent Troilus and Cressida, which had an initial period of success, though that has not really lasted. Several of its original cast survived. Its plot was derived not from the play by Shakespeare but from an earlier epic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer.

This performance of Bohème was no doubt a more workaday affair. The conductor, Reginald Goodall, who spent decades on the music staff at the Royal Opera House, conducted much Puccini in those days. However his reputation survives as a great interpreter of Wagner and as a teacher of many of Britain's best singers.

No director or designers are credited for this venerable staging, but Christopher West's job title was 'Resident Producer' and his task was to keep all the company's stagings in working order. The sets and costumes were the originals from the first London performances in 1897, as inhabited variously by the likes of Caruso and Melba. They stayed in use until they were succeeded in 1974 by a wonderfully effective replacement, directed by John Copley and designed by Julia Trevelyan Oman. This itself survived for some forty years, displaying the talents of the greatest singers of the age, including Domingo, Pavarotti and Carreras among the many Rodolfos. Forbes Robinson appeared with them for many years as a remarkably ageless philosopher.

These cast details are for the Saturday matinee, 19 March, and are from a programme in the OperaScotland collection. 

The schedule for the Scottish leg of the tour was as follows:

Glasgow (King's) w/c Feb 28: Mon Hoffmann; Tue Aïda; Wed Figaro; Thu Carmen; Fri Figaro, Sat mat Bohème; Sat eve Hoffmann.

Glasgow w/c  Mar 7: Mon Hoffmann; Tue Troilus and Cressida; Wed Aïda; Wed Traviata; Thu Carmen; Sat mat Traviata; Sat eve Aïda.

Edinburgh Empire w/c Mar 14: Mon Hoffmann; Tue Aïda; Wed Hoffmann; Thu Carmen; Fri Troilus and Cressida; Sat mat Bohème; Sat eve Carmen.

Performance Cast

Marcello a painter

Jess Walters

Rodolfo a poet

John Lanigan

Colline a philosopher

Forbes Robinson

Schaunard a musician

Ronald Lewis

Benoit the students' landlord

Howell Glynne

Mimì a seamstress

Una Hale

Parpignol a toy vendor

James Jones

Musetta a grisette

Hella Toros

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

David Tree

Custom-house Sergeant

Hubert Littlewood


James McCluskey

Performance DatesBohème 1955

Map List

Empire Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

19 Mar, 19.00

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