Opera Scotland

Tosca 1926British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tosca

As with several other popular operas, Tosca was only given two performances during the five week Scottish tour.  With one appearance in each city it could be expected that both nights would sell out without too much difficulty.  The cast could also be expected to perform with a minimum of rehearsal.  This would allow the conductor and orchestral principals the opportunity for a run through with the theatre's own resident orchestra - and most of them would have come across this popular score during the visits of other companies.

Clearly the young conductor John Barbirolli was already seen as something of a Puccini specialist, taking charge of all three of the full-length ones on this tour - La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly.


The Glasgow Review

The Glasgow Herald reviewed the previous evening's performance on Saturday, 2 October (p8):

'It was a great change from the spiritual drama of Parsifal, given on Thursday evening, to the very terrestrial drama of Tosca, staged at the Theatre Royal last night by the British National Opera Company, and it may be that the melodramatic nature of the latter work was specially emphasised for regular frequenters in the audience by the unusual association.  Certainly the sensational second act seemed in yesterday's performance to be a cruder piece of dramatic art than usual. But whether or not this second act is a suitable subject for musical treatment,  the fact is that this opera of Puccini is holding its own fairly well, and it certainly offers all who are concerned in the stage production a great opportunity for providing, in action and setting, something that cannot fail to make its effect. It is to the great credit of the performers last night that in working for this effect they raised the whole  atmosphere of the scene as high as it cold be taken.

'Miss Rachel Morton played the part of Tosca with an intimacy of treatment that called forth in special measure the sympathy of the spectator. and poignantly emphasised the tragedy of Tosca's situation.  She made one realise the fascination of this young singer even in her most mercurial moments.  Her singing, like her acting,  was full of significance, and her whole performance was convincing.

'Mr Tudor Davies as Cavaradossi sang splendidly, and maintained his fine vocal quality even in the torture chamber.  His impersonation also was full of important little touches.  The Scarpia of Mr Robert Parker was properly stately and impressive, but was he not too uniformly full voiced, particularly in his spoken or half-spoken commands and ejaculations?  An occasional touch of awe-inspiring quietness in his demeanour would have added a further suggestion of the sinister to his striking impersonation.

'The Angelotti of Mr Philip Bertram was well done, and a tribute is also due to those who took the various smaller parts. The uncomfortable atmosphere so quietly created by Scarpia's personal followers was, as always, an impressive feature of the production.

'The ensemble of the whole performance was on a high level, and the music ''off'' during the second act was very well managed.  Mr John Barbirolli conducted, and secured, as on his previous appearances this week, excellent results.  The long stretch of incidental music at the beginning of Act 3 in association with the finely managed lighting effects furnished one of the more poetic features of the performance.

'Today at two there will be given a new ballet founded on Mozart's Les Petits Riens, and produced for the first time last week in Newcastle.  The ballet will be followed by Hansel and Gretel, the delightful fairy opera.  In the evening at 7.15, Tales of Hoffmann will be given.'


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

Cesare Angelotti former Consul, now a political prisoner

Philip Bertram (Oct 01)

Mario Cavaradossi a painter

Tudor Davies (Oct 01)

Floria Tosca a famous singer

Rachel Morton (Oct 01)

Baron Scarpia Chief of Police

Robert Parker (Oct 01)

Performance DatesTosca 1926

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

1 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

27 Oct, 19.30

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