Opera Scotland

Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1926British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg

Towards the end of the second Glasgow week, quite how the BNOC could give the single Scottish performance of Mastersingers in any competent way seems astonishing, but it was standard practice at the time, when 20 operas were to be performed during the five week visit to the central belt.

Glasgow Opinion

The Glasgow Herald printed its notice the following morning - Saturday, 9 October (p10)

'Following The Marriage of Figaro on Thursday evening  came The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, given last night in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, by the British National Opera Company. The fact that both of these masterpieces are comedies, and that there is not one fatality associated with the store of either is their one bond of union, but their divergence in all other respects shows the greatness of the range of humorous grand opera that is available for cultivation if composers as a class would only show more interest in this branch of the subject.

'Meanwhile the BNOC have produced quite a number of the available humorous operas, and have produced them well. Performances of Coq d'Or and other works of a lighter cast come to mind in this connection, although these operas have not been given during this season, while the high-water mark for the present visit was reached on Thursday evening in Figaro.  The all-over excellence of the Mozart performance was not quite maintained last evening in The Mastersingers, although the performance had many good qualities and some excellent periods.  In so elaborate a production as this great opera requires there is bound to be a larger opening than usual for uncertainties and a bigger proportion of the incalculable element in the actual performance.

'It may be that the recent alteration in the casting of this opera whereby the part of Hans Sachs was played by Mr Booth Hitchin may have affected the whole production to some extent.  Mr Hitchin made a very creditable appearance in this most exacting role, but he furnished various little evidences that Hans Sachs and he are not yet completely one.  There was so much that was promising in his performance,  however, that greater ripeness on the vocal side and a more convincing impersonation may safely be predicted with further experience.  Meantime his singing lacks the resource called for in such a number as the cobbling song, and the voice also was occasionally unsteady just when a clear and beautifully toned melodic line was required.  In suggesting the big humanity of Sachs Mr Hitchin was more promisng than convincing.  For example, at the beginning of the second act there was a lack of bigness of heart in his vexation over the happenings in church;  but he gave nice quality to this character later in this act in the scene with Eva, which was very well done by both singers.  Altogether his Sachs requires to be made a little more lovable and of a human greatness that can dominate the opera by the power of its mere presence.

'Mr Walter Widdop did not seem to be in his best form last evening.  He sang in good style, and especially showed his power to give the proper lyrical rendering to Walther's music, but the quality of his tones was inclined to be rough a little, and at the beginning of the prize song he was very flat fr a time.

'Miss May Blyth was charming as Eva, and interesting on the vocal side, making much of her lovely music.  The duet with Sachs in the second act has already been referred to. Her singing and diction were most appropriately expressive in this beautiful scene, surely one of the most completely delightful in the whole range of opera.

'Miss Constance Willis was excellent as Magdalena, looking appropriately young, (which not all Magdalenas do); and singing splendidly.  Mr Parry ones was very good as David, particilarly in the first act, where he easily maintained the interest by his clever handling of the scene with Walther. In Sachs' house he was sometimes too loud, even when allowance was made for his natural excitement.

'Mr William Michael's clever Beckmesser is well known to Glasgow audiences.  Mr Robert Radford has a fine conception of Pogner.  Last night his voice was a little dull in tone as if he were suffering from a cold.  Mr Bernard Ross was very good as Kothner, singing well and offering a good realisation of the part.

'Dr Michael Sargent conducted. He kept all things well in hand and secured from his orchestra good results throughout the evening, without on the whole reaching the level attained in the orchestra on some previous occasions during this visit.  His rendering of the overture had fine breadth of style, but the music was inclined to be too level in its bigness.  He was notably successful in controlling his forces during the first act, in which more was heard last evening than usual of both voices and text.


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

Walther von Stolzing a young knight

Walter Widdop (Oct 08)

Eva daughter of Pogner

May Blyth (Oct 08)

Magdalene Eva's nurse

Constance Willis (Oct 08)

David apprentice to Sachs

Parry Jones (Oct 08)

Hans Sachs a shoemaker

Booth Hitchen (Oct 08)

Veit Pogner a goldsmith

Robert Radford (Oct 08)

Sixtus Beckmesser town clerk

William Michael (Oct 08)

Fritz Kothner a baker

Bernard Ross (Oct 08)

Performance DatesMastersingers of Nuremberg 1926

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Oct, 18.30

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2022

Site by SiteBuddha