Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1925British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

Tannhäuser was still a fixture in the repertoire and the BNOC fielded a strong team for this Edinburgh performance, with Miriam Licette a notable Elisabeth.

At this stage of his career, the versatility of Parry Jones seems astonishing.  In addition to this leading, and notoriously demanding, Wagner role, he was also singing the very different part of Tamino in The Magic Flute (excellent for keeping his voice flexible), plus a brief walk-on in The Mastersingers.


An Edinburgh Review

The Scotsman on Wednesday, 14 October (p8) commented:

'From the fine flower of Wagner's genius, as manifested in The Mastersingers, the British National Opera Company turned last night to the comparatively early Wagner of Tannhäuser.  Often as it may have been heard, Tannhäuser is an opera the interest of which never fades.  For the general public it is the most easily comprehensible of all Wagner's operas.  As a story it has a plain and obvious moral, and the music emphasises the points of the story in a way which there is no mistaking.  For the student of opera Tannhäuser is always interesting as illustrating the process of Wagner's development.  From this point of view even the inequalities of the work are interesting.

'Last night's performance was in all respects admirable. There was as fine a cast of principals as could well be desired.  As Tannhäuser, Mr Parry Jones made an excellent impression.  He sang well, with a sustained beauty of tone.  He has a real sense of the dramatic,  and he looks the part to the life.

'Miss Miriam Licette made a very convincing Elizabeth. It was an impersonation which rang true, and there was great beauty in her share of the finale of the second act, where she intercedes for the erring Tannhäuser, while the prayer in the third act was given with a quite exquisite purity of sentiment and tone.

'The Wolfram of Mr Harold Williams was an artistic performance, and Mr Frederic Collier as the fiery Biterolf, Mr Liddell Peddieson as Heinrich, Mr Philip Bertram as Reinmar, and Mr Frederick Davies as Walter, worthily completed the quartet of minstrels. 

Two very familiar interpretations, the Venus of Miss Gladys Ancrum and the Landgrave of Mr Robert Radford, scarcely require comment, so well known are their merits. Miss Ancrum is without question the finest Venus who has appeared in Edinburgh.

'There was a new shepherd boy, Miss Myrtle Stewart, whose singing of the difficult solo in the first act was highly successful, while chorus and orchestra were always good. The pilgrims' chorus in the first act went with remarkable steadiness, and the customary discrepancy in pitch when the orchestra enters after the unaccompanied singing of the pilgrims was, for once in a way absent.  It was a performance of the opera which was a triumph for Mr Aylmer Buesst, who conducted.

'The mounting of the opera was very artistic, and the second act, in particular, was a fine piece of glowing, harmonious colour.  The Venusberg scene might have benefited by being a little less brilliant in its lighting, for the otherwise excellent ballet would have gained in effect if invested with more of mystery.

'There appeared to be a rather larger audience than on the previous evening, but it cannot be too clearly understood that the continuance of the British National Opera Company absolutely depends - and its collapse would be an artistic calamity of the first order - upon full houses at every performance. The public taste for opera is undoubtedly growing,  but the present is a very critical period in its fortunes in this country.


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


Gladys Ancrum (Oct 13)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

Parry Jones (Oct 13)

Shepherd boy

Myrtle Stewart (Oct 13)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

Harold Williams (Oct 13)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

Robert Radford (Oct 13)

Walther von der Vogelweide a knight and minnesinger

Frederick Davies (Oct 13)

Heinrich der Schreiber a knight and minnesinger

Liddell Peddieson (Oct 13)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

Frederic Collier (Oct 13)

Reinmar von Zweter a knight and minnesinger

Philip Bertram (Oct 13)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Miriam Licette (Oct 13)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1925

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

29 Sep, 19.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

13 Oct, 19.00

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