Opera Scotland

Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1923British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg

As far as Wagner is concerned, Mastersingers was the only work to be given more than once on the spring tour, and also to be seen in both cities.  Otherwise Edinburgh also saw Tannhäuser, while Glasgow would get a rather convoluted Ring cycle. In the autumn, a single performance was given in Glasgow, with Miriam Licette as an outstanding Eva.


An Edinburgh Review

The Scotsman of Saturday, 17 March (p8) gave its opinion:

'Wagner's Mastersingers has been given about four times in Edinburgh within the last three years, and before that there were a few performances of the opera at wide intervals.  Every performance of the work, however, has been particulrly fortunate, and there was an especially fine one, under the auspices of Mr Ernst Denhof, and conducted by Mr Michael Balling, about eleven years ago.  Scarcely greater praise could be given to last night's performance of the opera than to say that it took an honourable position beside those of former years.  

'It was an interesting point in connection with last night's rendering that it showed that the National Opera Company is capable of supplying practically two excellent casts for the opera, for there were a good many changes in the cast from that of a year ago.

'Mr Robert Parker replaced Mr Andrew Shanks as Hans Sachs; Mr Robert Radford Mr William Anderson as Pogner;  Mr Arthur Jordan as Walter, returned to the rôle which last year was taken by Mr William Boland;  Mr William Michael replaced Mr Sydney Russell as Beckmesser; and Mr Browning Mummery Mr Tudor Davies as David.

'There was the same Eva from Miss Sarah Fischer, and Miss Edith Clegg was in her customary rôle as Magdalena.  It is unnecessary to determine which cast, in the aggregate, was the finer, for both were admirable.  The chief points of novelty were the Beckmesser of Mr Michael and the David of Mr Mummery.  These were fine pieces of comedy.  As a whole, it was a delightfully genial interpretation of a work which radiates good humour and kindly sentiment.

'Mr Parker entered thoroughly into the spirit of Hans Sachs, as presented by Wagner.  It was a reading which supplied in full measure that blending of romance and humour which the part demands.  Miss Sarah Fischer is as nearly an ideal Eva as can be imagined, and here, as in every other opera in which she has appeared, there was a charming freshness and ease in her singing.

'Mr Radford's Pogner and Mr Arthur Jordan's Walter require no commendation.  The Beckmesser of Mr William Michael was excellent in a quaint humour which never became unduly exaggerated, and Mr Browning Mummery's David brought to the front a tenor of fine qualities.  A special word of praise is due to the Kothner of Mr Frederic Collier, which was also humorous without being farcical; and Miss Edith Clegg's Magdalena was, as usual, very good.  The various Mastersingers were all excellent studies, and chorus and orchestra were at their best.

Mr Aylmer Buesst conducted.  The theatre was crowded in every corner, and the performance proceeded in an atmosphere of increasing enthusiasm.'


In the Autumn

The Glasgow Herald ofWednesday, 14 November (p10) reviewed the single performance in the autumn tour:

'It was a gala night last evening in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, for The Mastersingers was performed.  From whatever point of view this opera is considered, it is a masterpiece and one of the finest of human creations.  Its plot and its libretto are the most successful that Wagner has given us; the setting for the second act is one of the most poetically beautiful in all opera; the music is of a melodic quality that even Wagner never excelled, and in no other opera has he contrived to give us so much in four hours.  Finally the subject is of the best kind of comedy.  There is no villain, and nothing even approaching villainy.  There is satire, but even that is kindly.  It is this kindly spirit pervading all the worj that makes the story so lastingly attractive.  And all thos attractive qualities that distinguishe the work as a whole are to be found addd together in the character of Hans Sachs.  He is the hero who renounces and the fairy godfather who fulfils, and on him the final success of any presentation may fairly be said to depend.

'The British national Operas Company are fortunate in their Hans Sachs.  Mr Robert Parker as the shoemaker-poet was splendid last night in all that he did.  His singing and his acting seemed to be always just right - and to be able to impress a listener that throughout the performance of a heavy role calling for the realisation of an unusual variety and subtlety of moods is a great achievement.  His diction also was remarkably fine, and seemed to be not so much as an added quality as an inseparable part of his singing.

'Miss Miriam Licette was completely charming as Eva, and sang very finely.  y of her voice is exactly suited to such a part, and she made the most of it.  Perhaps she was at her best in the quintet which was sung, with particular success by all the singers.  It does not often sound so beautiful as it did last night.

'Mr Tudor Davies was vocally a little light on occasion, but his singing as Walther was always lyrical, and his tone quality rich and full.  Mr browning Mummery gave an appropriately lively performance as David, and also sang well.  His voice when he allows it to ring out is often unpleasantly resonant; if he would refrain from ''letting it go'' in this fashion it would add to the merits of his work.  In the first act in particular he was inclined to indulge in a greater display of vocal power than the part calles for.  Perhaps he was incited to this by the orcjhestra, which was often too loud during the first act for many minutes together.

'There is a real problem here.  Wagner has scored this act with a richness that is unusually sustained, and to reduce the tone quantity too much would rob the orchestral texture of its required quality.  The final solution is, no doubt, to have the orchestra sunk.  That cannot be done in these days  Meantime the experiment might be tried of holding the players in a little more.  Last night some parts of Act I sounded quarrelsome, when only animation was called for.

'Mr Robert Radford was fine as Pogner., and Mr Frederic Collier's Kothner was satisfactory.  Beckmesser was in the safe charge of Mr William Michael, who gave a very interesting interpretation of this amusing role.   Miss Edith Clegg was good as Magdalena.  The remaining Mastersingers did their parts well in the bog ensemble of the first act, which was altogether vivacious.   The whole of this scene was well carried through; indeed the eentire performance was in the right mood, and for this Mr julius Harrison must have his share of the credit due.  he was at the conductor's desk and secured a high level of playing from the orchestra, besides controlling things well in the elaborate ensembles.  The riot at the close of Act II was much more spontaneous in its effect than it was on former visits.    The chorus, augmented by the Glasgow Grand Opera Society, sang well.

'Today at 2 Samosn and Delilah will be given, with Mr Walter Widdop, the new tenor, in the part of Samson.  At the evening performance, which begins at 7.30, the two Holst operas, Savitri and The Perfect Fool will be given for the second time here.'


BNOC in Scotland - 1923 (Spring & Autumn)

The company's Spring visit lasted five weeks - two in Edinburgh (King's Theatre) and three in Glasgow (at the Coliseum, as the Theatre Royal was not available).

Returning in the autumn, the visit again lasted five weeks - four in Glasgow (this time at the Theatre Royal) and one in Edinburgh (King's Theatre).

The 29 operas performed were Bach (Phoebus and Pan);  Mozart (Seraglio,  Marriage of Figaro,  Magic Flute);  Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Mastersingers,  Rhinegold,  Valkyrie,  Siegfried,  Twilight of the Gods);  Verdi (TrovatoreAïda Otello);  Gounod (Faust);  Bizet (Carmen);  Saint-Saëns (Samson and Delilah);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (Bohème,  Tosca,  Madam Butterfly,  Gianni Schicchi);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana);  Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel);  Debussy (Pelléas and Mélisande);  Charpentier (Louise);  Smyth (Boatswain's Mate,  Fête Galante);  Holst (Savitri,  Perfect Fool).

The schedule was as follows:


Edinburgh, w/c 5 March:  Mon 5 Samson and Delilah;  Tue 6 Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 7 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 7 eve Aïda; Thu 8 Madam Butterfly;  Fri 9 Carmen;  Sat 10 mat Phoebus and Pan & Pagliacci;  Sat 10 eve Trovatore.

Edinburgh, w/c 12 March:  Mon 12 Seraglio;  Tue 13 Tannhäuser;  Wed 14 mat Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 14 eve Hansel and Gretel;  Thu 15 Magic Flute;  Fri 16 Mastersingers;  Sat 17 mat Bohème;  Sat 17 eve Faust.

Glasgow, w/c 19 March:  Mon 19 Rhinegold;  Tue 20 Valkyrie;  Wed 21 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 21 eve Phoebus and Pan & Pagliacci;  Thu 22 Madam Butterfly;  Fri 23 Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 24 mat Magic Flute;  Sat 24 eve Trovatore.

Glasgow, w/c 26 March:  Mon 26 Seraglio;  Tue 27 Siegfried;  Wed 28 mat Samson and Delilah;  Wed 28 eve Louise;  Thu 29 Phoebus and Pan & Pagliacci;  Fri 30 Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 31 mat Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 31 eve Madam Butterfly.

Glasgow, w/c 2 April:  Mon 2 Carmen;  Tue 3 Mastersingers;  Wed 4 mat Bohème;  Wed 4 eve Samson and Delilah;  Thu 5 Magic Flute;  Fri 6 Twilight of the Gods; Sat 7 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 7 eve Aïda.


Glasgow, w/c 29 October:  Mon 29 Magic Flute;  Tue 30 Samson and Delilah;  Wed 31 mat Phoebus and Pan & Pagliacci;  Wed 31 eve Bohème;  Thu 1 Nov Aïda;  Fri 2 Valkyrie;  Sat 3 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 3 eve Madam Butterfly.

Glasgow, w/c 5 November:  Mon 5 Savitri Perfect Fool;  Tue 6 Louise;  Wed 7 mat Madam Butterfly;  Wed 7 eve Cavalleria Rusticana & Gianni Schicchi;  Thu 8 Siegfried;  Fri 9 Otello;  Sat 10 mat Magic Flute;  Sat 10 e Faust.

Glasgow, w/c 12 November:  Mon 12 Aïda;  Tue 13 Mastersingers;  Wed 14 mat Samson and Delilah;  Wed 14 eve Savitri & Perfect Fool;  Thu 15 Tosca;  Fri 16 Bohème;  Sat 17 mat Fête Galante & Bosun's Mate;  Sat 17 eve Phoebus and Pan & Gianni Schicchi.

Glasgow, w/c 19 November:  Mon 19 Faust;  Tue 20 Otello;  Wed 21 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 21 eve Aïda;  Thu 22 Pelléas and Mélisande;  Fri 23 Fête Galante & Boatswain's Mate;  Sat 24 mat Cav & Pag;  Sat 24 eve Magic Flute.

Edinburgh, w/c 26 November:  Mon 26 Aïda;  Tue 27 Louise;  Wed 28 mat Fête Galante & Boatswain's Mate;  Wed 28 eve Phoebus and Pan & Gianni Schicchi;  Thu 29 Pelléas and Mélisande;  Fri 30 Savitri & Perfect Fool;  Sat 31 mat Magic Flute;  Sat 31 eve Madam Butterfly.

Performance Cast

Walther von Stolzing a young knight

Arthur Jordan (Mar 16)

Tudor Davies (Nov 13)

Eva daughter of Pogner

Sarah Fischer (Mar 16)

Miriam Licette (Nov 13)

Magdalene Eva's nurse

Edith Clegg (Mar 16; Nov 13)

David apprentice to Sachs

Browning Mummery (Mar 16; Nov 13)

Hans Sachs a shoemaker

Robert Parker (Mar 16; Nov 13)

Veit Pogner a goldsmith

Robert Radford (Mar 16; Nov 13)

Sixtus Beckmesser town clerk

William Michael (Mar 16; Nov 13)

Fritz Kothner a baker

Frederic Collier (Mar 16; Nov 13)

Performance DatesMastersingers of Nuremberg 1923

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

16 Mar, 18.00

Coliseum | Glasgow

3 Apr, 18.00

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

13 Nov, 18.15

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