Opera Scotland

Pagliacci 1928British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Pagliacci

This four week tour only contained a single performance of the famously popular double-bill of Cav & Pag.  As it was placed on the Saturday evening (20 October) at the end of the Aberdeen week it is not to be expected that any critics would attend.  Nor have we as yet found a copy of the programme, so no cast for either opera is available.  One reason for the lack of performances is that the pairing was simultaneously being presented on tour by the Carl Rosa company.

No reviews or programmes for Cav & Pag have come to light. The partial cast we have listed is from a preview of the visit in the Press and Journal on 7 September (p3).  No conductor is specified (or tenor for the role of Beppe).



Aberdeen comment

While the Press and Journal did not review the Saturday performances, someone did at least attend the evening show, and was able to comment (Monday, 22 October, p6) without even alluding to the depths of the economic depression from which the country was suffering:

'In unfortunate contrast to the experience of last year,  the visit of the British National Opera Company to Aberdeen, has not been a financial success.  The same tale of inadequate box office receipts is told of most provincial centres where the company has performed, and lovers of great music - or rather of grand opera, for music is like truth a jewel with many facets - are everywhere deploring the lack of popular support.  If it is to be properly performed and the full splendour of the masterpieces is to be brought out,  grand opera is a costly affair,  since a first-class orchestra, as well as a first-class stage company is essential.

'It would be a misfortune if financial pressure should circumscribe the activities of any organisation which endeavours to give the public the best of this branch of the art, and the idea of local guarantee funds to secure visiting companies against loss is probably the best remedial suggestion at present being canvassed.  Mr Frederic Austin hinted on Saturday night that we should shortly hear more of the nationwide scheme in support of grand opera which Sir Thomas Beecham propounded a year ago.  In the meantime,  however,  local enthusiasm and co-operation must hold the pass,  ready to be incorporated in the national effort should such become practicable.

'It must be confessed that grand opera,  like Shakespeare,  appeals only to a restricted audience,  and there is as little likelihood of its becoming a cheap entertainment as of people being compelled to listen to it.  If, however,  its admirers are not numerous,  one of the possible methods whereby grand opera may be assured of sufficient support is along the lines of instructional propaganda by its enthusiasts.  There are many gradations of taste among lovers of grand opera to be considered likewise.  Some have become tired of Wagner;  others adore Mozart;  while the relative merits of the Italian and French composers have been debated almost to the point of bitterness.  The disappearance of grand opera from the stage would, however,  be a grievous loss to the musical public,  and it behoves all who are interested in music to work together, and in Aberdeen to make successful that effort which Professor Terry has undertaken to organise.'


BNOC in Scotland 1928

This final Scottish tour by BNOC was only four weeks instead of the six enjoyed the previous year.  This is partly because the King's Theatre in Dundee, an excellent modern venue, visited for the first time in 1927,  was now a cinema and no longer available.  But Aberdeen (His Majesty's) was still a welcoming venue along with Edinburgh (King's) and Glasgow (Theatre Royal).

The fifteen operas performed were:

Mozart (Magic Flute);  Rossini (Barber of Seville);  Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Lohengrin;  Mastersingers);  Verdi (TrovatoreAïdaFalstaff);  Gounod (Faust);  Bizet (Carmen);  Massenet (Manon);  Puccini (Bohème,  Madam Butterfly);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana)


The tour schedule was as follows:

Aberdeen, w/c 15 October:  Mon 15  Lohengrin;  Tue 16  Carmen;  Wed 17 mat  Tannhäuser;  Wed 17 eve  Madam Butterfly;  Thu 18  Aïda;  Fri 19  Falstaff;  Sat 20 mat  Bohème;  Sat 20 eve  Cav & Pag.

Edinburgh, w/c 22 October:  Mon 22  Manon;  Tue 23  Lohengrin;  Wed 24 mat  Faust;  Wed 24 eve  Barber of Seville;  Thu 25  Magic Flute;  Fri 26  Falstaff;  Sat 27 mat  Carmen;  Sat 27 eve Madam Butterfly.

Glasgow, w/c 29 October:  Mon 29  Lohengrin;  Tue 30  Tannhäuser;  Wed 31 mat  Faust;  Wed 31 eve  Barber of Seville;  Thu 01 Nov  Falstaff;  Fri 02  Manon;  Sat 03 mat Carmen;  Sat 03 eve  Bohème.

Glasgow, w/c 05 November:  Mon 05  Falstaff;  Tue 06  Magic Flute;  Wed 07 mat  Trovatore;  Wed 07 eve  Lohengrin;  Thu 08  Aïda;  Fri 09  Mastersingers;  Sat 10 mat  Manon;  Sat 10 eve  Madam Butterfly.

Performance Cast

Tonio a player

Percy Heming (Oct 20 e)

Canio leader of the players

Walter Widdop (Oct 20 e)

Nedda Canio's wife

Isabel Rhys Parker (Oct 20 e)

Silvio a villager

Ralph Humble (Oct 20 e)

Performance DatesPagliacci 1928

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

20 Oct, 19.30

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