Opera Scotland

Bohème 1957Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Bohème

Two Tuesday performances and two on Saturday - two of the performances in Dundee (whose audience missed out on Il trovatore as a result). The scheduling looks odd, but the casts were of a high quality.  Dundee was receiving its first ever visit by the Wells company, so perhaps the repertoire was a bit 'safe' compared with the venues management was familiar with.


Dundee Press Review

Dundee Courier & Advertiser : Wednesday, April 10,  1957

A touching Mimi in “La Boheme”

'Ask an initiate about Puccini's La Boheme - which was the second Sadler's Wells production at the Gaumont Theatre, Dundee last night - and the invariable answer is, “It's so touching and the melodies are so well known.”  There in nutshell form is the appeal of the greatest box-office opera, which by the end of this week will have been staged five times at the Gaumont within two years.

'For the second night in succession we had an operatic heroine dying from consumption - and a very touching Mimi she was from Joan Stuart.  In Act I there was a feeling that, for my own taste, the very power of her voice tended to destroy the illusion of the tender little flower embroidress.  Her soaring tone, firm and virile, was in the prima donna tradition.  But in the poignancy of Mimi's farewell scene she refined her tone to the feeling of true pathos.

'The problem about Boheme is whether one likes it with tenor and soprano trying to belt the roof off, or whether it is preferred more lyrical and tender.  I thought the Sadler's Wells production was an acceptable compromise, giving a ration of both styles in alternation.  In short, it had both the passion of full-throated singing and Puccini's magical strokes of pathos artistically realised.  Joan Stuart and the tenor, Robert Thomas, were well matched in their voices for the duets which sail in voluptuous curves over the often unison strings of the orchestra.  Mr Thomas was an excellent Rudolph, with a gracious tone and a satisfactory surge of power in his upper register.

'The Bohemians' pieces of by-play were unusually effective, as was the vigour and speed of the cafe scene (Act II) with chorus.  Here lies the opportunity for the Musetta, gaily played and well sung by Patricia Bartlett.  Frederick Sharp's account of the baritone, Marcel, could scarcely have been bettered for quality of voice or philosophic expressiveness.  The other Bohemians were capably sung by Harold Blackburn (Colline) and John Probyn (Schaunard).

'Another tribute to the orchestra is due for a highly sensitive accompaniment, again under Leo Quayle.'


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 3 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.

Casts are from programmes - for  Aberdeen in the City Library and for Dundee in the OperaScotland collection.

Performance Cast

Marcello a painter

Frederick Sharp (Apr 6, 9, 13)

Rodolfo a poet

William McAlpine (Apr 6, 13)

Robert Thomas (Apr 9)

Colline a philosopher

Harold Blackburn (Apr 6, 9, 13)

Schaunard a musician

John Probyn (Apr 6, 13)

Peter Glossop (Apr 9)

Benoit the students' landlord

Cecil Lloyd (Apr 6, 9, 13)

Mimì a seamstress

Patricia Howard (Apr 6, 13)

Joan Stuart (Apr 9)

Parpignol a toy vendor

John Harvey (Apr 6)

Ben Williams 2 (Apr 9, 13)

Musetta a grisette

Elizabeth Fretwell (Apr 6, 9)

Patricia Bartlett (Apr 13)

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Charles Draper (Apr 6, 9, 13)

Custom-house Sergeant

William Booth (Apr 6, 9, 13)


Ian Macpherson (Apr 6, 9, 13)

Performance DatesBohème 1957

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

6 Apr, 14.00

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

9 Apr, 19.30 13 Apr, 14.00

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

16 Apr, 19.30

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