Opera Scotland

Tosca 1929Covent Garden Opera

Read more about the opera Tosca

The Covent Garden Opera quckly arose from the ashes of the defunct BNOC, and here made its first appearance in Scotland.  The repertoire included the remarkable total of four operas by Puccini, including the Scottish premiere of Turandot.  There were only two operas each by Wagner and Verdi, with none at all by Mozart.


The Edinburgh press reviewed the performance on Saturday, 2 November, the final one of the visit:

The Scotsman, Monday, 4 November 1929, p8:

'Excellent performances at the King's Theatre of Lohengrin and Tosca on Saturday brought the first visit to Edinburgh of the Covent Garden Opera company to an end.  The work of the company here has been altogether delightful in its efficiency and distinction, and the edvent of the new organisation has brought with it thepromise of a marked alteration in the operatic position.

'Lohengrin, which was given in the afternoon, had already been heard during the first week of the company's stay in Edinburgh,  Saturday's performance differed from its predecessor in three of its principal characters,  the Lohengrin of Mr Parry Jones,  the Elsa of Miss Marjorie Parry, and the King of Mr Richard Watsson,  all fine performances.

'In opera there is a constant variation in the relative importance of the two elements of drama and music,  and Puccini's operas, although he has an almost unerring instinct for the musical mot juste,  are perhaps rather preponderantly dramatic than musical.  The preponderance may be slight, but it is there.

'In Tosca it is perhaps rather greater than in the other operas, and there is a proportionately greater demand on the acting powers of the artists.  On Saturday night Miss Rachel Morton gave an admirable suggestion of the wayward charm,  strung up presently to tragedy, of the heroine, while her singing, particularly of ''Vissi d'arte'', to give the air its more familiar name, was beautiful.

'Mr Percy Heming's Scarpia was new to an Edinburgh audience.  There is a discrepancy between the Scarpia of the stage and  the Scarpia of Cavaradossi's bitter description, but on the accepted lines Mr Heming's Scarpia was a highly effective study.

'Mr Edward Leer sang well as the painter, and the Sacristan of Mr Autori was a particularly well finished little study, grotesque, yet convincingly human.  What little there is for Angelotti to do in the opera was well done by Mr Philip Bertram;  Mr Octave Dua, as Spoletta, and his sinister associates fitted into the picture artistically,  and Miss Justine Griffiths sang the pensive music of the shepherd boy with great charm.

'Mr Barbirolli conducted, and after sharing in the numerous enthusiastic recalls at the end of the performance, expressed the pleasure of himself and his colleagues at the cordiality of their reception in Edinburgh.'


The Scottish leg of the tour began with a week in Aberdeen, followed by two in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh:

The operas performed were by Rossini (Barber of Seville);  Wagner (LohengrinMastersingers);  Verdi (Trovatore Falstaff);  Gounod (Faust);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (Bohème, Tosca,  Madam ButterflyTurandot);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana).


The tour schedule was:

Aberdeen, w/c  30 September: Mon 30 Mastersingers;  Tue 1 October:  Barber of Seville;  Wed 2 Bohème;  Thu 3 Falstaff;  Fri 4 Turandot;  Sat 5 m Faust;  Sat 5 e Madam Butterfly.

Glasgow, w/c  7 October:  Mon 7 Turandot;  Tue 8  Faust;  Wed 9 Falstaff;  Thu 10 Lohengrin;  Fri 11 Bohème;  Sat 12 m Cav & Pag;  Sat 12 e Trovatore.

Glasgow, w/c 14 October:  Mon 14 Mastersingers;  Tue 15 Madam Butterfly;  Wed 16 Tosca;  Thu 17 Barber of Seville;  Fri  18 Turandot;  Sat 19 m Lohengrin;  Sat 19 e Bohème.

Edinburgh, w/c 21 October:  Mon 21 Barber of Seville;  Tue 22 Turandot;  Wed 23 Trovatore;  Thu 24  Lohengrin;  Fri 25  Falstaff;  Sat 26 m Madam Butterfly;  Sat 26 e  Faust.

Edinburgh, w/c 28 October: Mon 28 Mastersingers;  Tue 29  Cav & Pag;  Wed 30  Bohème;  Thu 31 Falstaff;  Fri 01 November Turandot;  Sat 02 m  Lohengrin;  Sat 02 e Tosca.  

Most of the performers were familiar to Scottish audiences of the day  Cast details are from a programme for Tosca in the OperaScotland collection.

Performance Cast

Cesare Angelotti former Consul, now a political prisoner

Philip Bertram (Nov 2 e)


Fernando Autori (Nov 2 e)

Mario Cavaradossi a painter

Edward Leer (Nov 2 e)

Floria Tosca a famous singer

Rachel Morton (Nov 2 e)

Baron Scarpia Chief of Police

Percy Heming (Nov 2 e)

Spoletta police agent

Octave Dua (Nov 2 e)

Sciarrone police officer

Hugo Hills (Nov 2 e)

Shepherd boy

Justine Griffiths (Nov 2 e)


John Martin (Nov 2 e)

Performance DatesTosca 1929

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

16 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

2 Nov, 19.30

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