Opera Scotland

Bohème 1923British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Bohème

Bohème is hugely popular still, with a spring matinee in each city.  In the autumn there is no performance in Edinburgh, but there was only a single week there.

Surely it must be unusual to have a tenor (Frederick Blamey) able to deliver a good Rodolfo when he had been singing Siegfried ten years earlier.

In the autumn Bohème was substituted at a late stage for the first scheduled performance of Pelléas, which meant that it played the night after Tosca.  The Herald critic makes it plain that he considers Tosca to be vastly inferior, and unlikely to survive in the repertoire for long.


The Critic Speaks

The Scotsman of Monday, 19 March (p6) provided an opinion of the Saturday matinee of Bohème and the evening performance of Faust:

'On Saturday excellent performances of two of the most popular works in the current operatic repertory rounded off the enjoyable fortnight;s stay of the British National Opera Company in Edinburgh.  Despite over sixty years of existence, Faust has still an undiminished charm, alike for the musician and for the untrained listener;  and La Bohème, which still seems almost one of the operas of yesterday, has been delighting the public for a quarter of a century, and is probably destined to continue its fascination as long as Faust.  There was a large audience in the afternoon for La Bohème, and a larger one at night for Faust.

'In Puccini's opera, Miss Leah Rusel-Myre, as Mimì, was even better than she had been in November in the same role.  She has a beautiful voice which is developing rapidly, and her reading of the part is full of grace and an unforced pathos.

'Mr Frederick Blamey's Rudolph was also remarkably effective.  He had excellent colleagues in Mr William Michael, as Marcel, the painter;  Mr William Anderson, as Colline, the philosopher, with a fine rendering of his address to the coat which he is about to sell; and Mr Frederic Collier as Schaunard, the musician.  Miss Doris Lemon was as attractive as ever, in her customary role of Musetta, and the Benoit of Mr Sydney Russell, and the Alcindoro of Mr Alfred Huntly were both good.  Mr Aylmer Buesst conducted.'


In the Autumn

The Glasgow Herald of Thursday, 1 November (p10) reviewed the previous afternoon's double bill in which Pagliacci was preceded by Phoebus and Pan, followed by La Bohème in the evening:

'There was a very large audience in the evening when La bohème was produced.  The cast was the same as that seen here on previous occasions, except for the part of Mimì, which was taken by Miss Miriam Licette.  She sang very finely and gave altogether a particularly sympathetic interpretation of the part of the hapless seamstress.  Miss Doris Lemon was delightful as Musetta, and the four Bohemians as portrayed by Messrs Tudor Davies, William Michael, William Anderson, and Frederic Collier were as attractive as ever.   Mr Davies sang brilliantly.  Chorus and orchestra were good, and the ensemble and staging of the very busy second act were well controlled.  Mr Julius Harrison conducted with great efficiency.'


A Return Visit

The Glasgow Herald of Saturday, 17 November (p11) reviewed the previous evening's performance:

'In consequence of the recent postponement of the revival of Debussy's Pelléas and Mélisande from last evening to Thursday of next week, La Bohème was  performed yesterday at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, and brought about the unusual circumstance that Puccini was occupying the boards two evenings in succession.  Any who were present at both performances had a specially happy opportunity of comparing the two works, and though a vote on the question of superiority cannot be obtained, there can be little doubt what the result of the voting would be.  La Bohème is one of the most melodious of Puccini's operas; it has humour, pathos, and a succession of varied and striking settings, and it may reasonably be expected to hold the favour of the public for a long time to come.

'Last evening the performance was greatly enjoyed by a numerous audience.  Miss Miriam Licette was again a charmimg Mimì both vocally and histrionically, and Mr Tudor Davies as Rudolph, Mr William Michael as Marcel, and Messrs William Anderson and Frederic Collier as the remaining Bohemians were as effective as ever.  The cast of the chief characters was completed by Miss Doris Lemon as Musetta.  This is a clever impersonation.

'Mr Aylmer Buesst, fresh from his conquests with the Alpine Symphony, reappeared at the conductor's desk and presided over a good performance.'


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

Rodolfo a poet

Frederick Blamey (Mar 17 m)

Tudor Davies (Oct 31 e; Nov 16)

Marcello a painter

William Michael (Mar 17 m; Oct 31 e; Nov 16)

Colline a philosopher

William Anderson (Mar 17 m; Oct 31 e; Nov 16)

Schaunard a musician

Frederic Collier (Mar 17 m; Oct 31 e; Nov 16)

Benoit the students' landlord

Sydney Russell (Mar 17 m)

Mimì a seamstress

Leah Rusel-Myre (Mar 17 m)

Miriam Licette (Oct 31 e; Nov 16)

Musetta a grisette

Doris Lemon (Mar 17 m; Oct 31 e; Nov 16)

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Alfred Huntly (Mar 17 m)

Performance DatesBohème 1923

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

17 Mar, 14.00

Coliseum | Glasgow

4 Apr, 14.00

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

31 Oct, 19.30 16 Nov, 19.00

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