Opera Scotland

Bartered Bride 1957Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Bartered Bride

On its first tour to Scotland since 1944, the Sadler’s Wells company ventured north of the central belt for the first time, giving a week of performances in both Aberdeen and Dundee.  Their success was such that those two cities immediately became annual fixtures on the touring schedule.

The Bartered Bride was a popular piece at this time – really the only Czech opera to be given in Britain with any regularity.  This cast contains several singers who would become familiar to Scottish audiences.  The conductor was a Scot whose career was spent largely introducing musicals to the West End, including Lionel Bart's Oliver! 

Lurking among the clowns and dancers is a very young (17?) Christopher Gable, soon to become a leading dancer with the Royal Ballet, later a highly-regarded actor, and finally the Director of Northern Ballet Theatre in Manchester.  There is another notable dancer in Sir Peter Wright, eventually to be director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.


Dundee Press Opinion

Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Monday, April 15,  1957

Sadler's Wells dancers take the limelight

'The Sadler's Wells Company, after a week at the Gaumont which will be treasured in the memories of Dundee opera-lovers, sang farewell on Saturday night with an infectiously gay performance of Smetana's lyric comedy opera The Bartered Bride.  A new facet of the company's diversity of talent was the appearance in Smetana's opera of its dancers, ten of whom gave exhilarating displays of Czech dances. Their verve and sense of timing enraptured the full audience. Another delight was the appearance of the circus troupe in Act III, a performance of fascinating mime and fleetness of dancing and tumbling.  Two young ballerinas in the troupe showed the maximum of grace and skill on pointes.

'Musically, the opera proved equally delightful, with its intimate village atmosphere allied to attractive melodies with a “folky” tinge, happy sounding choruses, and many concerted pieces for the principals.  The leading tenor and soprano, Thomas Round (Jenik) and Joan Stuart (Marenka), sang beautifully, and Owen Brannigan gave an excellent humorous study of Kecal, the village marriage broker.  The opera owed much to the skill of the conductor Marcus Dods.

'On Saturday afternoon another performance was given of La Boheme with William McAlpine (Rudolph) and Patricia Howard (Mimi).'


Sadler's Wells Opera on tour in Scotland -  1957

The four week tour of Scotland for once omitted Edinburgh, going to Aberdeen and Dundee instead.  Having been without professional opera since before the war, Dundee had received hugely successful visits by Carl Rosa in 1955 and 1956, so it was logical for the Wells to follow on, as they did annually with equal success until the theatre again became unavailable in 1961.  The repertoire in each city was similar but for Dundee not hearing Il trovatore (an extra Bohème instead) and Glasgow also getting Eugene Onegin and Puccini's Trittico.

The works performed were:  Mozart (Marriage of Figaro);  Flotow (Martha);  Verdi (TrovatoreTraviata);  Smetana (Bartered Bride);  Tchaikovsky (Eugene Onegin);  Puccini (BohèmeToscaTabarro,  Suor AngelicaGianni Schicchi).  

The tour schedule was as follows:

Aberdeen, w/c 1 April:  Mon 1  Traviata;  Tue 2  Tosca;  Wed 3  Martha;  Thu 4  Trovatore;  Fri 5  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 6 mat Bartered Bride;  Sat 6 eve  Bohème.

Dundee, w/c 8 April:  Mon 8  Traviata;  Tue 9  Bohème;  Wed 10  Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 11  Martha;  Fri 12  Tosca;  Sat 13 mat  Bohème;  Sat 13 eve  Bartered Bride.

Glasgow, w/c 15 April:  Mon 15  Trovatore;  Tue 16  Bohème;  Wed 17  Tosca;  Thu 18  Trovatore;  Fri 19  Martha;  Sat 20 Mat  Bartered Bride;  Sat 20 eve  Tosca

Glasgow, w/c 22 April:  Mon 22  Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 23  Martha;  Wed 24  Tabarro & Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi;  Thu 25  Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 26 Eugene Onegin;  Sat 27 mat  Traviata.;  Sat 27 eve Bartered Bride.

The Aberdeen cast is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library.  Details for Dundee and Glasgow are from programmes in the OperaScotland collection.

Performance Cast

Krušina a peasant

Denis Dowling (Apr 6 m, 27 e)

Peter Glossop (Apr 13 e)

Ludmila Krušina's wife

Judith Pierce (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Mařenka daughter of Krušina and Ludmila

Joan Stuart (Apr 13 e)

Victoria Elliott (Apr 6 m, 27 e)

Tobias Mícha a prosperous peasant farmer

Stanley Clarkson (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Háta Micha's second wife

Patricia Johnson (Apr 6 m)

Olwen Price (Apr 13 e, 27 e)

Vašek son of Mícha and Háta

Gwent Lewis (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Jeník Micha's son by his first wife

Thomas Round (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Kecal a marriage broker

Howell Glynne (Apr 6 m)

Owen Brannigan (Apr 13 e, 27 e)


William Booth (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Esmeralda a dancer

June Bronhill (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Indian a circus artist

Gwilym Jones (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Circus artist

Leon Greene (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Second Circus Artist

Christopher Gable (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Third Circus Artist

Peter Edwards (Apr 6 m, 27 e)

Oliver Symons (Apr 13 e)

Fourth Circus Artist

John O'Brien (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Circus Dancer

Versey Jones (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Peter Wright (Apr 6 m, 13 e, 27 e)

Performance DatesBartered Bride 1957

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

6 Apr, 19.30

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

13 Apr, 19.15

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

20 Apr, 14.30 27 Apr, 19.30

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