Opera Scotland

Bohème 1927British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Bohème

Given its great popularity, it seems strange that so few performances of Bohème were given on this tour. But given the practice that few pieces could be given twice in a venue that was unavoidable - indeed there was no performance at all during the Aberdeen week. Perhaps even stranger was the fact that all three performances were matinees - midweek in Glasgow, and Saturday in Aberdeen and Dundee.The linchpin of these afternoons was the young conductor, John Barbirolli, already an expert Puccinian.


The Edinburgh View

The Scotsman of Monday, 17 October (p8) was enthusiastic about the previous Saturday matinee performance of La Bohème:

'With La Bohème in the afternoon and Samson and Delilah at night, the British National Opera management made a strong bid for public support on Saturday.  The response in the afternoon was rather disappointing,  largely, no doubt, owing to the competition of other attractions.  At night, however, there was a large audience.

'The performance of La bohème, which was conducted by Mr John Barbirolli,  presented some points of novelty,  both the Rudolph of Mr Heddle Nash and the Mimì of Miss Isabel Rhys-Parker, being,  if memory serves aright, new to an Edinburgh audience.  In each case there was the success to be expected from artists who have already proved themselves to be full of intelligence and charm.  Mr Nash suggested the young poet admirably,  while Miss Rhys-Parker did not overdo the pathos of Mimì.  Rudolph's friends had excellent representatives in Mr Percy Heming as Marcel,  Mr Philip Bertram as Colline and Mr Herbert Langley as Schaunard.  Miss Kathlyn Hilliard was an excellent Musetta and Mr Sydney Russell filled his customary dual rôle as the Landlord and as Alcindoro.

'La Bohème is extremely grateful music for singers,  and it is also a good acting opera.  It is consequently a work which invites a good performance.    Saturday's remdering of the opera was deserving of high praise.  Everything went with an enjoyable smoothness,  and the balance between voices and orchestra was very satisfactory.'


The cast for Edinburgh on Saturday 15 October is as reviewed in Monday's Scotsman.  The Dundee cast is as given in the Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post and Dundee Courier & Advertiser.  These reviews are very brief, and included in the notices for the evening Aïda.


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

Rodolfo a poet

Heddle Nash (Oct 15 m)

Tudor Davies (Nov 5 m)

Marcello a painter

Percy Heming (Oct 15 m; Nov 5 m)

Colline a philosopher

Philip Bertram (Oct 15 m; Nov 5 m)

Schaunard a musician

Herbert Langley (Oct 15 m; Nov 5 m)

Benoit the students' landlord

Sydney Russell (Oct 15 m)

Mimì a seamstress

Isabel Rhys Parker (Oct 15 m)

Noël Eadie (Nov 5 m)

Musetta a grisette

Kathlyn Hilliard (Oct 15 m)

Doris Lemon (Nov 5 m)

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Sydney Russell (Oct 15 m)

Performance DatesBohème 1927

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

28 Sep, 14.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

15 Oct, 14.00

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

5 Nov, 14.00

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