Opera Scotland

Tosca 1923British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tosca

A single performance of Tosca in the ten weeks the BNOC spent in Scotland in 1923 does seem rather short measure, but there were plenty of other Puccini operas on offer.

The original cast included the excellent French baritone Dinh Gilly, who had sung the part at Covent Garden.  Sadly he was ill, and replaced by one of the company regulars as Scarpia.


A Review

The Glasgow Herald of Friday, 16 November () published a notice of the previous evening's performance:

'Puccini's melodramatic Tosca was staged last evening by the British National Opera Company for the only time during their present Glasgow visit.  It was performed to an audience that filled the Theatre Royal, and that was no doubt partly attracted by the prospect of seeing M Dinh Gilly in the role of Scarpia.  In his unavoidable absence through illness, this part was courageously taken at short notice by Mr William Michael, who gave a very presentable study of this aristocrat of villains.  But the finishing touch was wanting.

'Scarpia has something in him of the strong, silent man so dear to film-land, and since his presence in opera makes it essential that he should not only speak but sing, he should do both with an uncanny quietness and control during most of the time he is on the stage.  He should impress by his mere presence, and even at his first entrance and before he utters a sound, should make his audience uncomfortably aware of him.  This Mr Michael did not succeed in doing, partly owing to a habit of too hasty movement (his first entrance was a case in point), and partly owing to a rather limited range of tone colour both in speech and song.  Nevertheless there was much to commend in his performance, and if some deficiencies on the dramatic side have been emphasised it is because Scarpia is essentially an acting part.  Indeed the whole opera is an acting opera.  It is musically the least interesting of Puccini's established works, and without its powerful story, and especially without its exceiting second act, it would not have reained in the regular repertoire.

'Miss Beatrice Miranda was in good form last evening and sang brilliantly as Tosca.  Her impersonation was also good, and the trying scene with Scarpia found her equal to requirements.  Mr Tudor Davies made an effective Cavaradossi and the smaller parts were all appropriately cast.  The attendants on Scarpia were good in their power of unpleasant suggestion.  The close of Act 1 did not furnish quite the usual degree of musical climax.

'Mr Julius Harrison conducted.  The orchestra were occasionally too loud in parts of the score where big tone was not called for.  Apart from this they played well.


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

Mario Cavaradossi a painter

Tudor Davies (Nov 15)

Floria Tosca a famous singer

Beatrice Miranda (Nov 15)

Baron Scarpia Chief of Police

William Michael (Nov 15)

Performance DatesTosca 1923

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

15 Nov, 19.30

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