Opera Scotland

Bohème 1926British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Bohème

Two performances during the five week tour.  The Edinburgh performance was at least on the final Saturday evening, which may have given it a sense of occasion.


The Glasgow Opinion

The Glasgow Herald on Thursday, 7 October (p100 reviewed the Wednesday evening - there was no matinee (rehearsals were probably necessary, if not for Thursday's forthcoming Figaro, then certainly for Friday's Mastersingers):

'Last night a large audience at the Theatre Royal witnessed the only performance by the British National Opera Company during their present Glasgow season, of Puccini's La Bohème, which, of all his operas, probably stands highest in public favour.

'The four Bohemians, upon whose dramatic ensemble the success of so many episodes in the opera depends, were represented by Mr Tudor Davies, Mr Percy Heming, Mr Herbert Langley, and Mr William Anderson.  This well-cast quartet made the most of their opportunities, and an excellent account, in which none of the humour was lost, was given of all the scenes, in attic and street, in which they were engaged.

'Mr Tudor Davies was in his very best form.  Producing his voice with ease and with beautiful quality throughout its entire range, he revelled in Puccini's warm vocal line both in the fervent and in the quieter passages.  His acting reached an almost equally high level, and Rudolph must be reckoned one of his best parts.

'Of his three companions the honours go to Mr Percy Heming, whose Marcel, alike in his scenes with Rudolph and in those with Musetta, was a most convincing performance.  Except in the duet in the fourth act, the fact that his quality of voice was different from that of Mr Tudor Davies was an advantage.

'Mr Herbert Langley was a lively Schaunard.  His change to seriousness of manner in the fourth act was very well done.  As Colline, Mr William Anderson made a good philosopher, but his words were rather indistinct.

'Miss May Blyth, who sang well throughout, reproduced all of the charm and a good deal of the pathos of Mimì, but did not give much hint, vocally or otherwise, of the fragility and simplicity of the character.  Miss Eda Bennie gave a good representation of the impulsive Musetta, although her tone-quality seemed rather thin.

'Mr Sydney Russell, whose histrionic gifts are equal to anything, doubled the parts of Benoit and Alcindoro.

'Mr Aylmer Buesst, who conducted, secured a large measure of precision from the orchestra, who also responded well to his expressive rubato.  He worked up some glowing climaxes which, however, sometimes overpowered the voices.'


Last night in Edinburgh

The Scotsman of Monday, 1 November (p6) contained reports of both the Saturday performances that brought the Scottish tour to an end - Parsifal at the matinee and La bohème in the evening.

'La Bohème at night, like Parsifal in the afternnon, drew an excellent audience.  The performance was of a nature to justify the heartiwst support.  Miss Miriam Licette gave an admirable reading, natural and sympathetic, of the part of Mimì. the music of the rôle, suiting the characteristic quality of her voice to perfection,

''The Musetta of Miss Kathlyn Hilliard was avery attractive performance.  Mr Tudor Davies, singing with that ease of delivery that has been so marked during the present visit to Edinburgh of the Company, imparted all the requisite passion and sentiment to the character of Rudolph;  while the Marcel of Mr Percy Heming was, vocally and dramatically, a finished interpretation full of vitality.  Mr William Anderson as Colline and Mr Herbert Langley as Schaunard worthily completed the quartet iof Bohemians: while Mr Sidney Russell, in the accustomed dual roles of Benoît and Alcindoro, was as amusing as usual.

'There was the customary artistic quality in the staging of the opera.  Mr John Barbiroll  conducted.'


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

Rodolfo a poet

Tudor Davies (Oct 06 e; 30 e)

Marcello a painter

Percy Heming (Oct 06 e, 30 e)

Colline a philosopher

William Anderson (Oct 06 e, 30 e)

Schaunard a musician

Herbert Langley (Oct 06 e, 30 e)

Benoit the students' landlord

Sydney Russell (Oct 06 e, 30 e)

Mimì a seamstress

May Blyth (Oct 06 e)

Miriam Licette (Oct 30 e)

Musetta a grisette

Eda Bennie (Oct 06 e)

Kathlyn Hilliard (Oct 30 e)

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Sydney Russell (Oct 06 e, 30 e)

Performance DatesBohème 1926

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

6 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

30 Oct, 19.30

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