Opera Scotland

Faust 1923British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Faust

Could it really be that BNOC came to Scotland for five weeks in the spring and only did a single performance of Faust.  Even in the autumn they managed to do two.


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:

'Faust, in the evening, was given under equally satisfactory conditions.  Mr Tudor Davies has been a valuable acquisition to the company, and as Faust, both in the dramatic music of the opening scene and the more lyrical numbers of the later stages of the opera, he was always fine.

'Miss Beatrice Miranda, who is one of those sincere artists whose work is always improving, has often appeared in Edinburgh as Marguerite, but perhaps never with better effect than on Saturday.

Mr Robert Radford was as admirable as ever as Mephistopheles; Mr Andrew Shanks was a magnificent Valentine; and Miss May Blyth was a delightful Siebel.  Miss Edith Clegg as Martha, and Mr Philip Bertram as Wagner, completed the cast.  Orchestra, chorus, and ballet were all fine.  Mr Leslie Heward conducted.

'At the close of the evening performance, and after many enthusiastic recalls of the principals,  Mr Paget Bowman, one of the directors of the British National Opera Company, in a few words thanked the audience for the appreciation with which the company had been received on this, its third visit to Edinburgh within the space of twelve months.  In virtue of the agreement recently concluded with their friends of the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company, he said the visits to Edinburgh of the British National Opera Company would in future take place in the autumn, and he therefore bade the audience adieu until November.


Glasgow in Autumn

The Glasgow Herald of Monday, 12 November (p11) commented on Saturday's performances of Faust in the evening and the matinee of The Magic Flute:

'The opera-goers who packed the Theatre Royal, Glasgow on Saturday evening were offered more familiar fare than has been presented at any time in the past fortnight.  In the absence of statistics it may safely be inferred that Gounod's Faust is the most widely known of all operas.  Even in this country performances of it are so frequent that a combination of the calibre of the British National Opera Company might be excused for leaving it alone altogether.

'If they do choose to perform it they should give to their production a distinctive quality by singing, playing, and staging it in superior style.  They did all this on Saturday evening, and the result was a production of Faust on a much higher level than Glasgow opera-goers are accutomed to.  Even in the firework department there was some evidenceof superiority,  for although the squib which should add sparkle to the Mephistophelian wine in the Kermesse scene seemed itself a little depressed, the red flare in the first scene burned both brighter and longer than usual.  Orchestrally, the performance, which was conducted by Mr Leslie Heward, was very superior, and it was really enjoyable to hear Gounod's interesting score so well played.

'The chorus, augmented for the occasion by members of the Glasgow Grand Opera Society, sang throughout with great effect, though the tricky music in the opening of the Fair scene was a little untidy once or twice.  The choral singing at the death of Valentine was beautifully done, and made one wish that an approach at least to this perfection of finish might be attempted by all opera companies.

'Mr Browning Mummery sang well as Faust, though his top note in ''All hail, thou dwelling,'' taken with full voice, was startlingly out of proportion with his quiet singing of the rest of the aria.  Mr Reillie's violin obbligato in this number was beautifully played.

'Miss Beatrice Miranda gave a very interesting study of the part of Marguerite.  It was refreshing to have the heroine played as a normally human girl, for she is so often made oppressively demure, partularly at her first entrance.

'Vocally the performance was variable.  Mr Radford's Mephistopheles was splendid, and a very competent cast was completed by Miss May Blyth as Siebel, Miss Constance Willis as Martha,  Mr William Michael as Valentine, singing particularly well in the third act, and Mr Philip Bertram as Wagner.  The band on the stage played well, and helped to make the Soldiers' Chorus one of the most popular successes of the evening.

'It was an excellent idea to revive the Ballet, for a fully competent corps de ballet can only be carried by a company of the fullest resources.  On Saturday the dancers had a whole scene to themselves,  and no one who enjoyed their graceful evolutions would regret that the Church scene was omitted to make time for them.  The French operatic composers have always enjoyed writing ballet music, and Gounod's seven numbers are full of variety and charm,  providing also excellent and suggestive material on which a mistress of the ballet may work.

'Miss Ethel King in arranging the various dances has very happily translated the music into the terms of her own art, and it was impossible not to feel on Saturday that the music and the dancing were complementary.  The dancers did their part with a maximum of grace and efficiency, Miss Eily Gerald being specially noteworthy as an exponent of the poetry of motion.  In expressing their appreciation of the ''Ballet Divertissement'' in long-sustained applause, the audience were no doubt remembering also their enjoyment of incidental dances in many other operas, for which the ballet are not in a position to receive direct acknowledgment.

'Would it be possible, when the company next come to Glasgow, to have a pantomime ballet as well as an item in one of the double bills?'


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

Faust a learned doctor

Tudor Davies (Mar 17 e)

Browning Mummery (Nov 10 e)

Méphistophélès the devil

Robert Radford (Mar 17 e; Nov 10 e)

Valentin Marguerite's brother

Andrew Shanks (Mar 17 e)

William Michael (Nov 10 e)

Wagner a student of Dr Faust

Philip Bertram (Mar 17 e; Nov 10 e)


Beatrice Miranda (Mar 17 e; Nov 10 e)

Siébel a student of Dr Faust, in love with Marguerite

May Blyth (Mar 17 ; Nov 10 e)

Marthe a neighbour

Edith Clegg (Mar 17 e)

Constance Willis (Nov 10 e)

Production Cast


Leslie Heward (Mar 17 e; Nov 10 e)


George King


Henry F Chorley

Performance DatesFaust 1923

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

17 Mar, 19.00

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 Nov, 19.00 19 Nov, 19.00

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