Opera Scotland

Entführung aus dem Serail 1923British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Seraglio

This was another of the productions inherited from the defunct Beecham company.  Sir Thomas was very fond of the piece and in 1910 had got a star West End writer to update the Victorian translation of the Rev John Troutbeck.  Beecham's staff director, George King was also a valuable asset that BNOC inherited.  His knowkedge of the repertoire was second to none, and he was able to keep all the productions up to scratch.

Of the cast, the versatility of Walter Hyde continues to astonish. Equally at home in leading lyrical Mozart roles and Pelléas, then able to turn to far heavier Wagner with no apparent difficulty.

'There is one real oddity in the casting of Pedrillo.  He is usually a part for a light tenor, but here is cast as a baritone - the company's regular Papageno and Figaro, Raymond Ellis.  Significant elements of his part must have been transposed down, but this would at least have introduced a third voice type instead of having two tenors as Mozart had it.


An Edinburgh Report

The Scotsman of Tuesday, 13 March (p4) reported on the show:

'Some day, perhaps, when opera on the grand scale has arrived at a more assured position in public favour, it may be possible to have a Mozart operatic festival in Edinburgh.  In the meantime there is substantial cause for gratitude to the British National Opera Company that The Magic FluteThe Marriage of Figaro,  and The Seraglio are included in the repertory.  It is to be hoped that Don GiovanniCosì fan tutte and The Impresario may not be long delayed in making their appearance under the same artistic conditions, while it would be an interesting, if possibly a bold experiment to try how Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito suited the taste of to-day.

'Last night's revival of The Seraglio was a reminder that whether setting a witty comedy like The Marriage of Figaro to music equally witty; dealing with such an extraordinary mélange of he ompressive and the farcical as The Magic Flute; or engaged upon the slightest and most conventional of plots, as in The Seraglio, Mozart is always Mozart, and it is not unlikely that the eighteenth-century conception of the antique in Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito, wedded to the lovely music which the two operas contain, would meet with general appreciation.

'It is just six years since Sir Thomas Beecham introduced The Seraglio to the Edinburgh public, and those who heard the opera on that occasion were unlikely to forget it.  That its revival last night had been awaited with great interest was proved by the fact that it drew one of the largest audiences which have been seen in the King's Theatre during the present visit of the National Opera Company.

'The plot of the opera can be related in a sentence.  Belmont, a young Spamiard, has come to Turkey, in search of his beloved, Constance, who has been captyured by pirates, in company with her maid, Blondine, and Belmont's servant, Pedrillo, Blondine sweetheart, and sold as slaves to a Pasha; the two pairs of lovers escape, but are recaptured, when the Pasha, learning that Belmont is the son of his bitterest enemy, takes a noble revenge by setting the captives at liberty.

'The romantic belmont and Constance, and Pedrillo, Blondine, and Osmin, the Pasha's crusty major-domo (the Pasha is not a singing part), who supply the element of ''comic relief,'' afford ample opportunities for that musical chacterisation in which Mozart delighted.

'Mr Frederic Collier made a stately Pasha.  The music is sentimental and gay by turns, but always light and sparkling, and alike on the stage and in the orchestra, marked by an exquisite delicacy of finish.  Miss Gertrude Johnson as Constance, and Mr Walter Hyde as Belmont, made an attractive pair of lovers.  Their melodious laments over the hardness of their fate found an effective foil in the humours of Blondine and Pedrillo as presented by Miss Lilian Stanford and Mr Raymond Ellis, while Mr Robert Radford as Osmin, blustering, amorous, and convivial by turns, showed of what excellent qualities as a comedian he is possessed.

'Much of the effectiveness of the opera depends upon the neatness with which the various ensemble movements are executed, and in this respect the performance was delightful.  The chorus, in the little it had to do, was always good, and the ballet, for which the music was supplied by Mozart's ''Rondo alla Turca,'' was as graceful as usual.  The staging of the opera was appropriately rich and fanciful.  Mr Percy Pitt conducted.'


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

Belmonte a Spanish aristocrat

Walter Hyde (Mar 12)

Osmin the Pasha's overseer

Robert Radford (Mar 12)

Pedrillo Belmonte's servant

Raymond Ellis (Mar 12)

Konstanze a Spanish lady

Gertrude Johnson (Mar 12)

Blonde Konstanze's English maid

Lilian Stanford (Mar 12)

Selim a Turkish Pasha

Frederic Collier (Mar 12)

Performance DatesEntführung aus dem Serail 1923

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

12 Mar, 19.30

Coliseum | Glasgow

26 Mar, 19.15

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