Opera Scotland

Nozze di Figaro 1924British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Marriage of Figaro

Figaro opened both the first and last weeks of this five-week Scottish tour.

Malcolm Sargent conducted a total of eight operas during the stay.  It is surely a hugely demanding task to learn so many scores, particularly when some of the operas were new.  Even the regular repertory works such as Carmen and Mastersingers cannot have been easy to learn in such circumstances.  At least Aylmer Buesst had several years experience of such work.


Edinburgh Opinion

The Scotsman of Tuesday, 28 October (p6) reported on the first evening of the BNOC's stay in Scotland:

'Last night in the King's Theatre, the artists of the British National Opera Company began as interesting a series of performances as they have yet given in Edinburgh with Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.  During the ensuing fortnight there will be a judicious blending of the novel and the familiar - Vaughan Williams's Hugh the Drover, to be heard for the first time in Edinburgh, and the perenially attractive Tannhäuser; Rutland Boughton's Alkestis, another novelty here, and the evergreen Carmen; Puccini's Madame Butterfly, and one of his latest works, Gianni Schicchi, of which there was one performance here last season.  New or old, however, all have the recommendation of being produced under conditions of artistic excellence such as only a great and unselfish enthusiasm renders possible

'The British National Opera Company took over much that is valuable from Sir Thomas Beecham, but nothing of such woas the determination to establish opera in this country on a plane of excellence to challenge comparison, as a whole, with the best operatic art of the Continent.  It is a high ambition, perhaps, in view of the different conditions obtaining in this country, not to be realised all at once.  The will, however, is there.  The provision of the means rests with the public.  It is a point which cannot be too strongly emphasised that at the present time there is an opportunity  of assuring the future in this country of opera under fine conditions, such as has not occurred before.

'In beginning the Edinburgh season with The Marriage of Figaro, the British National Opera Company showed itself at its best.  Of all the fine productions prepared by Sir Thomas beecham, and inherited from him by the British National Opera, that of Mozart's treatment of Beaumarchais's comedy is one of the most delightful.

'The cast was, to some extent, a familiar one - Mr Andrew Shanks as the Count, Mr Raymond Ellis as Figaro, Mr Sydney Russell as Basilio, a study in polished cynicism in refreshing contrast to the merely ludicrous presentation of the character which an older generation knew.

'Less familiar were the Countess of Miss Miriam Licette, the Susanna of Miss Isabel Rhys-Parker, a dainty impersonation, and the Dr Bartolo of Mr William Andeson, while the genuinely boyish Cherubino of Miss Doris Lemon was anartistic triumph.  the other characters, the Marcellina of Miss Elsie Treweek, the Barbarina of Miss jessie Mitchell, and the Antonio of Mr William Michael were all in keeping with the artistic spirit animating the performance as a whole.

'Mozart's delicate music was given with an admirable finish, singers and orchestra alike rising to the exacting demands of the music  Not the least of the many merits of the performance was the neatness of the delivery of the dialogue.  The staging of the opera displayed the familiar charm in its disposition of line and colour.  Mr Malcolm Sargent conducted with a skill and tact which were reflected in the general smoothness of the performance.' 


BNOC's 1924 Scottish tour

The BNOC tour of Scotland in 1924 lasted five weeks - two in Edinburgh (King's) then three in Glasgow (Theatre Royal).

Amazingly, four operas by British composers were toured, as well as four French, though only one by Verdi.  As usual, Wagner and Puccini seem to enjoy undying popularity.  One Russian piece also puts in an appearance.

A total of 19 works were performed:

Mozart (Marriage of Figaro,  Magic Flute);   Wagner (Tannhäuser,  MastersingersSiegfried);  Verdi (Aïda);  Gounod (Faust);  Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Rimsky-Korsakov (Golden Cockerel);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);   Puccini (BohèmeMadam ButterflyGianni Schicchi);  Debussy (Pelléas and Mélisande);  Mackenzie (Eve of St John);  Vaughan Williams (Hugh the Drover);  Holst (Perfect Fool);  Boughton (Alkestis).

The performance schedule is as follows:

Edinburgh,  w/c 27 October:  Mon 27 Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 28 Carmen;  Wed 29 mat Madam Butterfly;  Wed 29 eve Hugh the Drover:  Thu 30 Perfect Fool & Gianni Schicchi;  Fri 31 Siegfried;  Sat 01 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 01 eve Tales of Hoffmann.

Edinburgh, w/c 3 November:  Mon 03 Golden Cockerel;  Tue 04 Pelléas et Mélisande;  Wed 05 mat  Magic Flute;  Wed 05 eve Tannhäuser;  Thu 06 Mastersingers;  Fri 07 Alkestis;  Sat 08 mat  Hugh the Drover;  Sat 08 eve  Aïda.

Glasgow, w/c 10 November:  Mon 10 Carmen;  Tue 11 Mastersingers;  Wed 12 mat Alkestis;  Wed 12 eve  Tales of Hoffmann;  Thu 13 Magic Flute;  Fri 14  Golden Cockerel;  Sat 15 mat Aïda;  Sat 15 eve Marriage of Figaro.

Glasgow, w/c 17 November:  Mon 17 Tales of Hoffmann;  Tue 18 Bohème;  Wed 19 mat  Magic Flute;  Med 19 eve  Aïda;  Thu 20 Eve of St John & Perfect Fool;  Fri 21 Hugh the Drover;  Sat 22 mat Gianni Schicchi  Pagliacci;  Sat 22 eve Tannhäuser.

Glasgow, w/c 24 November:  Mon 24 Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 25  Faust;  Wed 26 mat Golden Cockerel;  Wed 26 eve Magic Flute;  Thu 27 Hugh the Drover;  Fri 28  Carmen;  Sat 29 mat Madam Butterfly;  Sat 29 eve Mastersingers.

Performance Cast

Figaro the Count's valet

Raymond Ellis (Oct 27)

Susanna the Countess's maid

Isabel Rhys Parker (Oct 27)

Bartolo a doctor, the Countess's former guardian

William Anderson (Oct 27)

Marcellina Bartolo's housekeeper

Elsy Treweek (Oct 27)

Cherubino the Count's page

Doris Lemon (Oct 27)

Count Almaviva a Spanish grandee

Andrew Shanks (Oct 27)

Don Basilio a priest and music master

Sydney Russell (Oct 27)

Countess Almaviva

Miriam Licette (Oct 27)

Antonio a gardener, Susanna's uncle

William Michael (Oct 27)

Barbarina daugher of Antonio

Jessie Mitchell (Oct 27)

Production Cast


Malcolm Sargent (Oct 27)


George King

Performance Dates Nozze di Figaro 1924

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

27 Oct, 18.45 1 Nov, 14.00

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

15 Nov, 18.45 24 Nov, 18.45

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