Opera Scotland

Faust 1926British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Faust

Midweek matinees were notoriously difficult performances to fill, though necessary to meet the needs of patrons travelling from out of town. 

For this, the ever-popular Faust must have seemed a good choice.


The Glasgow attitude

The Glasgow Herald of Thursday, 30 September reviewed both the previous day's performances, Faust and the evening show, Madam Butterfly:

'Gounod's Faust was produced by the British National Opera Company at the matinee performance in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, yesterday, with excellent results.

'This opera is perhaps the most dangerous of the whole repertoire to managements that feel even a small temptation to trust to luck, and if time is short for rehearsals of other works such a familiar and straightforward opera may have to be risked, by even the best regulated opera companies, without a preliminary touching-up. It may be that the performance yesterday afternoon was so risked, but the results make this difficult to believe, for the various ensembles showed signs of recent preparation in their general neatness and spontaneity, and in the expressive quality which was a marked feature of them all. This applies to solo ensembles, chorus work, and orchestra.

'Mr Eugene Goossens, snr, has not conducted opera in Glasgow since the days of Sir Thomas Beecham, and his appearance at the desk yesterday was welcome. He gave a very careful and sympathetic rendering of the beautiful score and it was possible to admire much of it anew as he moulded the phrases and balanced the effects. Particularly in the ''Kermesse'', in the Garden Scene, and in the Church Scene (which occupied again the place from which the ballet had ousted it) he did all-important work.

'The church scene as performed yesterday made a welcome reappearance, soloists and chorus doing their parts with full breath of effect. The chorus again sang with real significance in the scene of Valentine's death and furnished some delightful soft chording. In the Waltz from the second scene they were also excellent in the lightness and crispness of their style.

'Miss Eda Bennie was charming in the appropriate girlish way as Marguerite and sang splendidly.

Mr Edward Leer as Faust was very satisfactory, singing in fine lyrical style apart from a vibrato which was sometimes a little disturbing. He was commendably at home on the stage and made his impersonation really interesting.

'Mr Radford was as excellent as always in the role of Mephistopheles.

'Another notable impersonation was provided by Mr Dennis Noble as Valentine. He sang very well and acted convincingly, presenting altogether a superior specimen of the Valentine of operatic tradition.  It is just such an one as he that the world is waiting for to put something of real manliness into Valentine on his first appearance. ''Even bravest heart'' would admit of this. As the character is always presented it is easy to imagine that Marguerite did not really miss him very much while he was at the war.

'Miss May Blyth as Siebel and Miss Constance Willis as Marthe, with Mr Martin Quinn as Wagner, completed an excellent cast.'


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 IsoldeMastersingers,  Parsifal);  Verdi (Rigoletto,  Aïda,  Otello);  Gounod (Faust,  Romeo and Juliet);  Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (Bohème ToscaMadam Butterfly,  Gianni 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

Faust a learned doctor

Edward Leer (Sep 29 m)

Méphistophélès the devil

Robert Radford (Sep 29 m)

Valentin Marguerite's brother

Dennis Noble (Sep 29 m)

Wagner a student of Dr Faust

Martin Quinn (Sep 29 m)


Eda Bennie (Sep 29 m)

Siébel a student of Dr Faust, in love with Marguerite

May Blyth (Sep 29 m)

Marthe a neighbour

Constance Willis (Sep 29 m)

Performance DatesFaust 1926

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

29 Sep, 14.00

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