Opera Scotland

Madam Butterfly 1928British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Madama Butterfly

Three performances of Butterfly on this tour, with Edinburgh and Glasgow both seeing it on the final Saturday evening - evidence of its huge popularity.


The Aberdeen View

The Press and Journal on Thursday, 18 October (p6) covered both the Wednesday matinee of Tannhäuser and the evening Madam Butterfly.  Necessarily, this meant less detail in the coverage,  so,  as with the Tannhäuser, the short parts do not get a mention:

'Yesterday at His Majesty's Theatre Tannhäuser was played in the afternoon, and in the evening Madame Butterfly.  The two operas contrast as sharply in theme as they do in style - the one treats of a man's redemption,  the other of a woman's betrayal.  Needless to say that Puccini had the larger audience of the two,  and,  as usual,  the ladies were in an overwhelming majority.............

'Madame Butterfly in the evening brought us ample compensation for the few shortcomings of the afternoon.  To begin with,  Mr Barbirolli conducted finely,  keeping the music at a brisk pace all through and thus saving it from the sentimentality that is sometimes allowed to clutter it up.  Then the chorus,  having little to do,  did it extremely well,  and, finally,  the opera was most fortunately cast.  The Butterfly of Miss Isabel Rhys Parker is among the best that one has seen.  Alike as singer and actress,  this lady is almost ideally suited for the part.  She has a beautiful voice of the right dramatic timbre and size,  yet capable of the finest nuance.  Her tone is always steady and clear,  and there is no suggestion of effort in her singing.  And,  quality still more rare,  one can hear her every word.  Petite and girlish-looking,  she looks the part,  and her portrait of Butterfly is at once fully detailed and fully convincing.

'Mr Heddle Nash was quite happy in the part of Pinkerton.  He sang with power and freedom and contributed his just share of a particularly fine rendering of the love duet.  Mr Dennis Noble's Sharpless had that little touch of individuality that he always contrives, and Miss Willis made Suzuki more than just sympathetic.  Both these artists gave of their best, as also did Mr Sydney Russell in the part of Goro,  and helped materially in a singularly fine ensemble.'


The Edinburgh Perspective

The Scotsman of Monday,  29 October (p8) gave a review of the Saturday matinee of Carmen,  following it with the evening Madam Butterfly:

'There was a crowded house at night for Madame Butterfly.  Miss Isabel Rhys Parker as the heroine sang delightfully,  and,  without unduly stressing the pathos of the situation,  gave a convincing study of the trusting girl who is suddenly confronted with tragedy.  The Suzuki of Miss Gladys Parr is a very finished impersonation,  which is always a pleasure to eye and ear alike.  There was a new Pinkerton, Mr Francis Russell,  a young tenor of considerable promise,  whose evident nervousness on Saturday night prevented him from doing himself anything like justice,  although it did not obscure the natural beauty of a voice from which,  with greater experience,  excellent work may confidently be expected.  Mr Dennis Noble sang well as the Consul,  while his acting was particularly good.  Mr Sydney Russell was in his familiar rôle of Goro.  Mr Martin Quinn was Yamadori and Mr Philip Bertram the Bonze.  Altogether it was a charming presentation of Puccini's opera.  Mr John Barbirolli conducted.

'At the close of the performance, Mr Frederic Austin expressed the thanks of himself and his colleagues for the large measure of public support accorded to them during the week,  and,  touching on the uncertainty of the operatic position,  urged the audience to rally to the support of Sir Thomas Beecham's Imperial League for Opera as the best means of ensuring the continuance of operatic performances of the standard which had been given during the week.'


The Glasgow Herald of Saturday, 10 November, following its review of the Friday evening Mastersingers,  announced that Noël Eadie would sing the title role in that evening's Madam Butterfly.


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

Lieutenant F B Pinkerton U S Navy

Heddle Nash (Oct 17 e)

Francis Russell (Oct 27 e)

Goro marriage broker

Sydney Russell (Oct 17 e, 27 e)

Suzuki Cio-Cio-San's servant

Constance Willis (Oct 17 e)

Gladys Parr (Oct 27 e)

Sharpless U S Consul in Nagasaki

Dennis Noble (Oct 17 e, 27 e)

Cio-Cio-San known as Madam Butterfly

Isabel Rhys Parker (Oct 17 e, 27 e)

Noël Eadie (Nov 10 e)

Bonze a priest, Cio-Cio-San's uncle

Philip Bertram (Oct 27 e)

Prince Yamadori

Martin Quinn (Oct 27 e)

Performance DatesMadam Butterfly 1928

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

17 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

27 Oct, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 Nov, 19.30

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