Opera Scotland

Original Poster

La bohème

Posted 23 Apr 2011

The first UK performance of this popular opera was given by Carl Rosa Opera in Manchester on 22nd April 1897, in the presence of Puccini himself.  It was given in English as The Bohemians, and Puccini was said to be pleased with the performance.

Not so widely known is that Carl Rosa Opera then gave it in Glasgow at the Theatre Royal just eight days later, on April 30th then May 6th, and at the Edinburgh Lyceum on May 10th, 13th and 21st. The reviewer of the Glasgow Herald ended his review of the first Scottish performance with this comment - "The Carl Rosa Company have produced operas, which after a brief season, have passed out of the bill. The Bohemians, we venture to think, has come to stay".

The first performance in London was not in fact given until October 2nd 1897 (by Carl Rosa Opera at Covent Garden) and so by a quirk of history Scots were able to see the opera before Londoners.  

The first UK performance in Italian was given at Covent Garden on Saturday July 1st 1899, when Dame Nellie Melba sang Mimi. According to the Morning Post, ".... its production is mainly due to the desire of Madame Melba to appear as Mimi, a part which she has played with the greatest success in America".

The Scottish connection here is that Melba's parents,  David Mitchell and his wife Isabella, had emigrated to Australia from Angus so David could make his fortune, having served his apprenticeship as a stonemason in Kirriemuir. Some say this explains the determination and thriftiness for which Melba was well known!

The Opera Scotland team plan to continue bringing to light Scotland's long operatic history.

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