Opera Scotland

Louise 1923British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Louise

BNOC had performed Charpentier's 'one hit wonder' during the 1922 tour, and clearly thought sufficiently well of it to repeat it, once in the spring, in Glasgow, and two further performances in the autumn, one in each city.  How the company could keep it playing well, with such huge gaps between performances, does seem astonishing, but there seems to have been a real sense of a company commitment to the piece.

Louise was clearly a true company show, with a large number of very short cameo roles, many of which were taken by company principals - a compete cast can be seen among the details of 1922 performances.


The Critic Speaks

The Glasgow Herald of Thursday, 29 March (p11) had to give an opinion of the mid-week matinee of Samson and Delilah, before pronouncing judgment on the evening performance of Louise:

'In the performance of Louise the company repeated their previous successes in this opera.  It is a work that requires to be done thoroughly well if it is to make its effect, for it is not too much to say that Charpentier, if left to himself, would scarcely succeed in retaining the attention of his hearers.  The score is clever and effective in a general way, and much of the orchestration is interesting and even occsionally telling, but the music as a whole is small, and does not hang well together.

'This weakness is compensated by perhaps the most effective scenario that any opera could have, and an additional source of strong interest is provided by the very real and moving human interest of the story.  Both of these exra-musical qualities are generously cared for by the company.  The various scenes are staged with great completeness and undeniable success, and modernity of design has been wisely avoided in the settings, which, like the story, are a copy of reality.  The cleverest of all the settings is undoubtedly that to the third act, where the evening lights of distant Paris are seen coming up one by one as the night falls.

'The story is one that would be ill-suited by acting of the conventional operatic kind.  The company nearly always succeed in avoiding this in all their productions, and in none more completely than in Louise, which is very well portrayed by everyone from start to finish.  Miss Leah Rusel Myre in the name part was really clever as an actress and sang with great beauty of style.  The whole impersonation was complete and commanded sympathy.  The parents, played by Miss Edith Clegg and Mr Robert Radford, were presented with equal conviction, and the home scenes altogether were done with a naturalness that was occasionally trying to witness.

'As the lover Mr Walter Hyde sang with fine feeling and richness of tone, and the very numerous small parts, all of them important, were carefully and satisfactorily presented.  The production altogether may be taken as a fine illustration of the unanimity of purpose which is a distinguishing feature of the company.  Nearly everybody has something to do and does it well, and with an eye to the effect as a whole.

'Mr Percy Pitt conducted and the orchestra played well, though part of the time under uncomfortable conditions, for the lights gave trouble yesterday at both performances.' 


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

Julien a young artist

Walter Hyde (Mar 28 e)


Leah Rusel-Myre (Mar 28 e)

Mother of Louise

Edith Clegg (Mar 28 e)

Father of Louise

Robert Radford (Mar 28 e)

Performance DatesLouise 1923

Map List

Coliseum | Glasgow

28 Mar, 18.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

6 Nov, 18.45

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

27 Nov, 18.30

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