Opera Scotland

Carmen 1927British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Carmen

It is hard to imagine an operatic tour that did not include Carmen.

But then this season does not contain Il trovatore, or Faust, or any of the once indispensable British works. Even so, there were only two Carmen performances, both in the central belt.


The View from Edinburgh

The Scotsman of Friday, 21 October (p8) said:

'New productions in the opera world may fare well or ill - the second performance of Manon here tomorrow evening, with some additional ballet music, should furnish interesting evidence as to the support of unfamiliar works - but public opinion rallies loyally to the old favourites. 

Last night Carmen was given, and attracted perhaps the largest audience, but certainly one of the largest audiences of the season. 

'There was an admirable cast, with Miss Constance Willis as Carmen, Mr Tudor Davies as Don José, Mr Herbert Langley as Escamillo, Miss Kathlyn Hilliard as Micaëla, Mr William Michael as Dancaiiro, Mr Frederick Davies as Remendado, Mr Philip Bertram as Zuniga, and the Misses Eda Bennie and May Blyth as Frasquita and Mercedes. 

Miss Willis's Carmen, as a dramatic conception, might perhaps be described as judiciously realistic. It was a picturesque performance, and her singing, even in its most intense moments, was always finely musical.

'Mr Davies's José was a sterling, robust reading of the part, both musically and dramatically, and the Escamillo of Mr Herbert Langley had the superb conviction with which he invests all his impersonations. It is a long time since the ''Toreador'' song has been given with such genuine realisation of its dramatic quality. 

The Micaëla of Miss Hilliard was another good piece of work, and commendably free from the sweetly sentimental suggestion with which the rôle is too often invested.

'The other characters were all in keeping with the general tone of a performance in which, as a whole, there was a commendable absence of the more hackneyed devices associated with the opera. The ensemble work was good, although the tone of the chorus might have been clearer. 

It was unfortunate, too, that the trumpets behind the scenes in the second act should have missed their entry, thus spoiling one of the most dramatic episodes in the opera. Such accidents, however, cannot always be avoided, and in the presence of so much that was absolutely first rate, a few lapses were relatively unimportant.

'Mr Eugene Goossens conducted, and under his spirited direction the opera was given with an enjoyably well-marked rhythmical feeling.' 


BNOC in Scotland 1927

The 1927 Scottish tour included six weeks, two each in Glasgow (Theatre Royal) and Edinburgh (King's), and a further week each in Aberdeen (His Majesty's) and Dundee (King's) - the first time that BNOC went north of the central belt.

Fifteen operas were performed:

Mozart (Marriage of Figaro,  Magic Flute);  Rossini (Barber of Seville);  Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Mastersingers,  Valkyrie,  Twilight of the Gods);   Verdi  (Aïda);   Bizet (Carmen);  Saint-Saëns (Samson and Delilah);  Massenet (Manon);   Leoncavallo  (Pagliacci);   Puccini  (Bohème,  Madam Butterfly,  Gianni Schicchi).

The schedule was as follows:

Glasgow, w/c 26 September:  Mon 26  Barber of Seville;  Tue 27  Magic Flute;  Wed 28 mat  Bohème;  Wed 28 eve  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci:  Thu 29  Valkyrie;  Fri 30  Marriage of Figaro  Sat 01 mat  Madam Butterfly;  Sat 01 eve  Aïda.

Glasgow, w/c 03 October:  Mon 03  Carmen;  Tue 04  Manon;  Wed 05 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 05 eve  Barber of Seville;  Thu 06  Mastersingers;  Fri 07  Samson and Delilah;  Sat 08 mat  Magic Flute;  Sat 08 eve  Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 10 October: Mon 10  Barber of Seville; Tue 11  Mastersingers;  Wed 12 mat  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci;  Wed 12 eve  Magic Flute;  Thu 13  Manon;  Fri 14  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 15 mat  Bohème;  Sat 15 eve  Samson and Delilah.

Edinburgh, w/c  17 October:  Mon 17  Barber of Seville;  Tue 18  Twilight of the Gods;  Wed 19 mat Madam Butterfly;  Wed 19 eve  Tannhäuser;  Thu 20  Carmen;  Fri 21  Manon;  Sat 22 mat  Magic Flute;  Sat 22 eve  Aïda.

Aberdeen, w/c 24 October:  Mon 24  Barber of Seville;  Tue 25  Twilight of the Gods;  Wed 26 mat  Magic Flute;  Wed 26 eve Manon;  Thu 27 Mastersingers;  Fri 28  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 29 mat  Madam Butterfly;  Sat 29 eve Aïda.

Dundee, w/c 31 October: Mon 31  Mastersingers;  Tue 01 Nov  Barber of Seville;  Wed 02 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 02 eve  Madam Butterfly;  Thu 03  Manon;  Fri 04  Valkyrie;  Sat 05 mat  Bohème;  Sat 05 eve  Aïda.

Performance Cast

Micaëla a peasant girl

Kathlyn Hilliard (Oct 20)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Tudor Davies (Oct 20)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Philip Bertram (Oct 20)

Carmen a gypsy

Constance Willis (Oct 20)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Eda Bennie (Oct 20)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

May Blyth (Oct 20)

Escamillo a toreador

Herbert Langley (Oct 20)

Dancaïre a smuggler

William Michael (Oct 20)

Remendado a smuggler

Frederick Davies (Oct 20)

Performance DatesCarmen 1927

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

3 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

20 Oct, 19.30

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