Opera Scotland

Romeo and Juliet 1926British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Roméo et Juliette

Gounod's second most popular opera had featured in several Carl Rosa tours in the early years of the century, and here the BNOC managed to field an attractive cast as well.


In Glasgow (from an Edinburgh point of view)

The Scotsman critic travelled through to report on the first performance on Tuesday, 5 October (p6):

'Charles Gounod's Romeo and Juliet was performed for the first time in Glasgow last night at the Theatre-Royal by the British National Opera Company. 

The Romeo was Mr Tudor Davies, and a better need not have been desired, for he brought most excellent qualities to the task. In a word he may be said to be the beau ideal of what an ardent and devoted lover ought to be. The fine and delicate nuances which he made use of in singing the love passages with Juliet proved him a genuine artist, and his whole handling of the part was a most charming performance.

'In Miss Miriam Licette he had the sweetest of Juliets, who in her response to Romeo's love was instant, and true, and faithful. Her singing matched in the most thorough and convincing manner her acting. The richness of her voice was heard in the beautifully sustained and flexible quality of tone with which she sang the rapturous music. 

Mr Robert Radford as Friar Lawrence, Mr Parry Jones as Tybalt, and Mr Ralph Michael as Capulet were all splendid, and the opera was acclaimed a distinct success by a crowded house.

'The scenery was remarkably fine, and the dresses altogether worthy of such a performance. 

Mr John Barbirolli was an able conductor, and the orchestration of Gounod's music was delightfully pleasant.'


The Glasgow view

The Glasgow Herald of Thursday, 14 October provided reviews of the Wednesday shows - Hansel and Gretel in the evening and a further Romeo and Juliet in the afternoon;

'The afternoon performance of Romeo and Juliet did not attract so large an audience, but the production was worthy of a full house. There were a few changes in the cast, including Mr Norman Allin as a sonorous and sympathetic Friar Lawrence, and Miss Myrtle Stewart, who made a charming and capable Stephano. 

Miss Miriam Licette was once more an attractive and girlish Juliet, and sang in her best style, and Mr Dennis Noble was especially good as Mercutio. The duels in Act III, arranged by Mr Herbert Langley, were very realistic. 

Mr John Barbirolli conducted.


An Edinburgh Opinion

The Scotsman reported on Tuesday, 19 October that the Edinburgh season had opened the previous evening:

'An audience of encouraging dimensions and enthusiasm welcomed the advent of the British National Opera Company in the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, last night. The list of operas promised for the ensuing fortnight, indeed, is one which is deserving of a generous measure of public support, for it reveals a creditable spirit of enterprise on the part of the Company. 

Last night's performance of Romeo and Juliet represented a recent addition to the repertory of the Company: to-night, The Leper's Flute will be heard for the first time in Edinburgh, and for the second on any stage; the week's operas include Othello, Parsifal, and Hansel and Gretel, while next week there will be Tristan and a repetition of Parsifal. These, with nine other operas of more frequent performance, make up a fortnight's music which places the public under a substantial obligation to the British National Opera Company.

'It is about four years since Gounod's Romeo and Juliet was last heard in Edinburgh, and its revival last night was very welcome. It is the fashion with some people to decry Romeo and Juliet as comparing unfavourably with the composer's Faust, and also as being too frequently reminiscent of the earlier work. In setting the great love-story, it was perhaps inevitable that the composer should have been unable to keep his mind clear of the Garden Scene in Faust. It is perhaps permissible to regret also that he made such an obvious bid for popular success, as with the Waltz Song, which always seems out of keeping with the rest of the opera. When every exception has been taken, however, much lovely music remains, and Gounod, in the Balcony Scene, has come as near as possible to the production of a worthy companion piece to the earlier Garden Scene.

'The quality of last night's cast was excellent throughout. Miss Miriam Licette made an admirable Juliet, and her singing in the Balcony Scene, in particular, presented an enjoyable combination of vocal charm and dramatic intelligence.

Mr Tudor Davies is honouring the promise of his early appearances in Edinburgh, in the manner in which he is advancing in his art, and his Romeo was at all points a remarkably finished performance. It was, in fact, one of the best things he has done in Edinburgh. 

The Friar Lawrence of Mr Robert Radford was a characteristically fine and impressive performance, and the Capulet of Mr Bernard Ross was of good quality. 

Mr Herbert Langley gave Mercutio's ''Queen Mab'' song with abundant dramatic force, and was throughout a convincing personality, and the Tybalt of Mr Frederick Davies, and the Paris of Mr Dennis Noble were also very effective.

'Miss Kathlyn Hilliard, as Stephano, the page, sang the mocking song outside Capulet's house very well; and praise is due to the Gregory of Mr Thomas Hindmarch,  the Duke of Mr Philip Bertram, and the Nurse of Miss Jean Duncan. The few ensembles in the work, the chorus prologue, the hurly-burly of the duel, and the rest, were all well managed.

Mr John Barbirolli, making his first Edinburgh appearance with the Company, proved himself a conductor of excellent qualities.

The opera was very handsomely staged.'


BNOC in Scotland 1926

The company spent three weeks in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh - 1927 would see them venturing further north.  Wagner and Puccini led the field, with four operas each.  There were a total of four works by three composers of the French school.  Verdi was represented by one middle-period and two late masterpieces.  Notably there were two recently composed British works - something BNOC would never achieve again.

The 20 operas performed in Scotland on this tour were:

Mozart (Marriage of Figaro);  Wagner (Tannhäuser Tristan and Isolde, MastersingersParsifal);  Verdi (Rigoletto,  AïdaOtello);  Gounod (FaustRomeo and Juliet);  Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (Bohème Tosca, Madam ButterflyGianni Schicchi);  Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel);  Vaughan Williams (Hugh the Drover);  Bryson (Leper's Flute).

The performance schedule was as follows:

Glasgow, w/c 27 September:  Mon 27  Aïda;  Tue 28  Carmen;  Wed 29 m Faust;  Wed 29 e Madam Butterfly;  Thu 30  Parsifal;  Fri Oct 01  Tosca;  Sat 02 m  Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 02 e  Tales of Hoffmann.

Glasgow, w/c 04 October:  Mon 04 Romeo and Juliet;  Tue 05 Otello;  Wed 06 m  No Perf;  Wed 06 e Bohème;  Thu 07 Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 08 Mastersingers;  Sat 09 m Aïda;  Sat 09 e Rigoletto.

Glasgow, w/c 11 October:  Mon 11 Parsifal;  Tue 12  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci; Wed 13 m Romeo and Juliet;  Wed 13 e Hansel and Gretel;  Thu 14  Tristan and Isolde;  Fri 15 Leper's Flute;  Sat 16 m Madam Butterfly;  Sat 16 e Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 18 October:  Mon 18 Romeo and Juliet;  Tue 19 Leper's Flute;  Wed 20 m Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 20 e  Otello;  Thu 21  Parsifal;  Fri 22  Aïda;  Sat 23 m Hugh the Drover;  Sat 23 e Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 25 October:  Mon 25 Rigoletto;  Tue 26 Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci;  Wed 27 m Madam Butterfly;  Wed 27 e Tosca;  Thu 28 Tristan and Isolde;  Fri 29 Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 30 m Parsifal;  Sat 30 e Bohème.

Performance Cast

Duke of Verona

Philip Bertram (Oct 18)

Count Paris

Dennis Noble (Oct 18)

Count Capulet

William Michael (Oct 4)

Bernard Ross (Oct 18)

Juliette Capulet's daughter

Miriam Licette (Oct 4, 13 m, 18)

Gertrude Juliet's nurse

Jean Duncan (Oct 18)

Tybalt Capulet's nephew

Frederick Davies (Oct 18)

Roméo a Montague

Tudor Davies (Oct 4, 18)

Mercutio friend of Roméo

Dennis Noble (Oct 13 m)

Herbert Langley (Oct 18)

Stephano Romeo's page

Kathlyn Hilliard (Oct 18)

Myrtle Stewart (Oct 13 m)

Gregory A Capulet retainer

Thomas Hindmarch (Oct 18)

Friar Lawrence

Robert Radford (Oct 4, 18)

Norman Allin (Oct 13 m)

Performance DatesRomeo and Juliet 1926

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

4 Oct, 19.00 13 Oct, 14.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

18 Oct, 19.00

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