Opera Scotland

Nozze di Figaro 1927British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Marriage of Figaro

It is likely that this performance would now seem very old-fashioned and heavy - not the fault of the thoroughly reliable conductor, but simply an acceptance of a musical style that significantly predates the recent changes in performance practice of the authenticity movement. However the cast does include several excellent singers. May Blyth and Percy Heming became notable teachers. Constance Willis repeated the role of Marcellina a few years later in the opening seasons at Glyndebourne, and can be heard on the recording made of that production. Dundee-born bass William Anderson was approaching the end of a notable career that went back to the turn of the century.

Cast details are from reviews of the 2 November performance in the Dundee Courier & Advertiser and Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post.

Constance Willis and William Michael are listed in the cast in newspaper advertisements.  No indication is given of who sang Basilio.  The tenors most likely to have sung the role are Sydney Russell or Frederick Davies.


A Dundee Opinion

The Dundee Courier & Advertiser of Thursday, November 3 1927 (p5) gave ts view:

'An appreciative audience enjoyed every minute of the matinée performance, when The Marriage of Figaro was the chosen opera.  The story of Figaro belongs to an age long since past, when morals had not reached the standards of the present day.  The delightful freshness and charm of the Mozart music, however, makes one forget about the unheroic loves of such people as the Countess, Susanna and Cherubino, or the amorous intrigues of Count Almaviva.

'Although obviously one or two of the singers were suffering from slight colds, the work of the principals all through maintained the high standard of the BNOC.  Miss May Blyth, as the Countess, sang the exquisite “Dove sono” with much grace, and throughout a part which calls for rare judgment she displayed a refreshing intimacy and sympathy with her work.  Miss Kathlyn Hilliard's Susanna and Miss Doris Lemon's Cherubino were delightfully done, the former full of roguish vivacity and the latter carrying the comic note to a fine degree.

'Mr Herbert Langley, who played the part of Figaro, scored a distinct triumph. His jovial singing and confident humour provided a delightful touch to the whole performance.  Mr Percy Heming, too, scored a big success.  Dundee people were naturally interested in Mr William Anderson's appearance.  He had a small part as Dr Bartolo, but his fine voice and acting only demonstrated his ability to take a bigger share, and the only regret was that we did not have more of him.

'The chorus work was, as usual, excellent, and the conducting of Mr Eugene Goossens beyond reproach.'


A Second View

Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post Thursday, November 3 1927    p3

British National Opera Company - Performance at the King's Theatre

'The audience at the afternoon performance of The Marriage of Figaro was not very large, but it was most appreciative of the beautiful rendering of the opera.  In a first-rate cast, Mr Herbert Langley, as Figaro, was again outstanding.  His acting is of a standard attained all too seldom on the operatic stage, and the qualities of his superb voice and his artistic use of it were demonstrated in his singing of such popular numbers as "Non Piu Andrai".

'Miss Kathlyn Hilliard's Susanna and Miss Doris Lemon's Cherubino were delightfully vivacious, and vocally excellent.  Miss Blyth sang the Countess's lovely numbers with beautiful tone and rare intimacy.  Mr Percy Heming, as the Count, and Mr William Anderson in the smaller role of Bartolo, maintained the high standard.  Mr Eugene Goossens, senior, conducted with all his old élan - of this perfect artist one need say no more.'


BNOC in Scotland - 1927

The 1927 Scottish tour included six weeks, two each in Glasgow (Theatre Royal) and Edinburgh (King's), and a further week each in Aberdeen (His Majesty's) and Dundee (King's) - the first time that BNOC went north of the central belt.

Fifteen operas were performed:

Mozart (Marriage of Figaro,  Magic Flute);  Rossini (Barber of Seville);  Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Mastersingers,  Valkyrie,  Twilight of the Gods);   Verdi  (Aïda);   Bizet (Carmen);  Saint-Saëns (Samson and Delilah);  Massenet (Manon);   Leoncavallo  (Pagliacci);   Puccini  (Bohème,  Madam Butterfly,  Gianni Schicchi).

The schedule was as follows:

Glasgow, w/c 26 September:  Mon 26  Barber of Seville;  Tue 27  Magic Flute;  Wed 28 mat  Bohème;  Wed 28 eve  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci:  Thu 29  Valkyrie;  Fri 30  Marriage of Figaro  Sat 01 mat  Madam Butterfly;  Sat 01 eve  Aïda.

Glasgow, w/c 03 October:  Mon 03  Carmen;  Tue 04  Manon;  Wed 05 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 05 eve  Barber of Seville;  Thu 06  Mastersingers;  Fri 07  Samson and Delilah;  Sat 08 mat  Magic Flute;  Sat 08 eve  Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 10 October: Mon 10  Barber of Seville; Tue 11  Mastersingers;  Wed 12 mat  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci;  Wed 12 eve  Magic Flute;  Thu 13  Manon;  Fri 14  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 15 mat  Bohème;  Sat 15 eve  Samson and Delilah.

Edinburgh, w/c  17 October:  Mon 17  Barber of Seville;  Tue 18  Twilight of the Gods;  Wed 19 mat Madam Butterfly;  Wed 19 eve  Tannhäuser;  Thu 20  Carmen;  Fri 21  Manon;  Sat 22 mat  Magic Flute;  Sat 22 eve  Aïda.

Aberdeen, w/c 24 October:  Mon 24  Barber of Seville;  Tue 25  Twilight of the Gods;  Wed 26 mat  Magic Flute;  Wed 26 eve Manon;  Thu 27 Mastersingers;  Fri 28  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 29 mat  Madam Butterfly;  Sat 29 eve Aïda.

Dundee, w/c 31 October: Mon 31  Mastersingers;  Tue 01 Nov  Barber of Seville;  Wed 02 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 02 eve  Madam Butterfly;  Thu 03  Manon;  Fri 04  Valkyrie;  Sat 05 mat  Bohème;  Sat 05 eve  Aïda.

Performance Cast

Figaro the Count's valet

Herbert Langley

Susanna the Countess's maid

Kathlyn Hilliard

Bartolo a doctor, the Countess's former guardian

William Anderson

Marcellina Bartolo's housekeeper

Constance Willis

Cherubino the Count's page

Doris Lemon

Count Almaviva a Spanish grandee

Percy Heming

Countess Almaviva

May Blyth

Antonio a gardener, Susanna's uncle

William Michael

Performance DatesNozze di Figaro 1927

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

30 Sep, 19.30 5 Oct, 14.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

14 Oct, 19.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

28 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

2 Nov, 14.00

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