Opera Scotland

Hugh the Drover 1925British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Hugh the Drover

Hugh the Drover was clearly a success at its first Scottish appearance in 1924 and this was just the second of three years running - very surprising for a new work.

In Glasgow the opera was played on its own.  In Edinburgh, however, it appeared in a double bill, after the new adaptation of Bach's Coffee Cantata, under the title Coffee and Cupid.


The Edinburgh Reception

The Scotsman on Saturday, 17 October (p8) was enthusiastic:

'Hugh the Drover, with its story of love laughing at the material designs of a mercenary father, presented somewhst in the style of Mr Jeffery Farnol, and set to music in which there is a skilful employment of the idioms of English folk-song, is a work which improves on acquaintance.  Last night it was given with fine effect.  Mr Tudor Davies, as the Drover, sang the music of the part with unfailing beauty of sentiment, and Miss May Blyth, as the heroine, entered very thoroughly into the spirit of the part, showing, as she did in La Bohème on Wednesday afternoon, how remarkably she is advancing in her art.  There was a delightful quality in the singing of Miss Muriel Brunskill as the aunt, and the bullying butcher of Mr Frederic Collier, the constable of Mr William Anderson, and Mr Sydney Russell's turnkey were all excellent impersonations.  A feature of the opera is the number of small parts which go to the building up of a picture of rustic English life in the time of the Napoleonic Wars.  These were all well done, special mention being due to the primrose-seller of Miss Frances Frost, Mr Dennis Noble's showman, the ballad singer of Mr John Ferrars, and Mr Philip Bertram's sergeant.

'The work is perhaps not wholly without its longueurs, and the composer's village personages are occasionally apt to express themselves on a rather heroic scale, but the charm of the music, with its appealing ballad character, would excuse much in this direction.  Like Coffee and Cupid, the opera had an enthusiastic reception, and both works are deserving of permanent places in the repertory of the Company.


BNOC in Scotland - 1925

The 1925 tour consisted of two weeks in Glasgow (Theatre Royal) followed by two weeks in Edinburgh (King's).

The 19 operas performed during the tour were:

Bach (Coffee Cantata);  Mozart (Magic Flute); Wagner (Tannhäuser, Tristan and Isolde Mastersingers); Verdi (RigolettoAïdaOtello); Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Rimsky-Korsakov (Golden Cockerel);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana); Puccini (BohèmeToscaMadam ButterflyGianni Schicchi); Holst (At the Boar's Head);  Vaughan Williams (Hugh the Drover).

The tour schedule was:

Glasgow, w/c 28 September: Mon 28 Rigoletto;  Tue 29 Tannhäuser;  Wed 30 mat Cav & Pag;  Wed 30 eve Hugh the Drover;  Thu 1 Oct Otello;  Fri 2 Madam Butterfly; Sat 3 mat Magic Flute;  Sat 3 eve Bohème.

Glasgow, w/c 5 October: Mon 5 Carmen; Tue 6 Coffee Cantata & Golden Cockerel; Wed 7 mat Rigoletto;  Wed 7 eve Mastersingers;  Thu 8 Otello;  Fri 9 Tristan and Isolde;  Sat 10 mat Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 10 eve Aïda.

Edinburgh, w/c 12 October: Mon 12 Mastersingers;  Tue 13 Tannhäuser;  Wed 14  mat Bohème; Wed 14 eve Aïda;  Thu 15 Magic Flute;  Fri 16 Coffee Cantata & Hugh the Drover;  Sat 17 mat Golden Cockerel;  Sat 17 eve Carmen.

Edinburgh, w/c 19 October: Mon 19 Otello;  Tue 20 At the Boar's Head & Gianni Schicchi;  Wed 21 mat Cav Pag;  Wed 21 eve Rigoletto;  Thu 22 Bohème;  Fri 23 Tosca;  Sat 24 mat Carmen;  Sat 24 eve Tales of Hoffmann.

Performance Cast


Frances Frost (Oct 16)


Dennis Noble (Oct 16)


John Ferrars (Oct 16)

Mary the Constable's daughter

May Blyth (Oct 16)

Aunt Jane the Constable's sister

Muriel Brunskill (Oct 16)


Sydney Russell (Oct 16)


William Anderson (Oct 16)

John the Butcher

Frederic Collier (Oct 16)

Hugh the Drover

Tudor Davies (Oct 16)


Philip Bertram (Oct 16)

Production Cast


Malcolm Sargent (Oct 16)


George King

Performance DatesHugh the Drover 1925

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

30 Sep, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

16 Oct, 19.30

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