Opera Scotland

Bohème 1941Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Bohème

The opening night of this visit, Madam Butterfly on Monday 10 March 1941, was the first performance in Scotland by Sadler's Wells Opera. This was an organization founded by Lilian Baylis, initially to play in harness with the Old Vic Theatre Company. It toured far and wide round the country during the war, returning to Scotland in 1942 and 1944. At this stage the company only played the central belt.

This visit consisted of three weeks in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh, with a repertoire consisting of Madam Butterfly, Bohème, Traviata, Marriage of Figaro and Fledermaus. The orchestra was a conflation of players from Sadler's Wells own touring band and members of the Scottish Orchestra, made available to make the sound from the pit unusually full for the four-week tour.

The first Glasgow week ran as follows: Mon Butterfly, Tue Bohème, Wed mat Figaro, Wed eve Fledermaus, Thu Butterfly, Fri Traviata, Sat mat Fledermaus, Sat eve Bohème. The following weeks were the same in content, though in varied order, with the total number of performances, 48 in all, divided between Butterfly (8), Bohème (8), Traviata (4), Figaro (4) and Fledermaus (8).

Cast details are taken from reviews in the Glasgow Herald (for 11 March) and the Scotsman (for 31 March). Joan Cross became sick and unable to perform during the rest of the Edinburgh week (missing two Butterflies and a Countess) but seems still to have been singing well at this opening night. Ruth Packer is more usually associated with dramatic parts, rather than the delicate roles such as Mimì. Nora Gruhn was an excellent light soprano who had sung leading roles with the Covent Garden company a few years earlier. Tudor Davies sang Rodolfo throughout his career, and was a highly popular figure.

Performance Cast

Rodolfo a poet

Tudor Davies

Marcello a painter

John Hargreaves

Colline a philosopher

Ronald Stear

Schaunard a musician

Tom Williams

Benoit the students' landlord

John Greenwood

Mimì a seamstress

Ruth Packer (Mar 11)

Joan Cross (Mar 31)

Musetta a grisette

Janet Hamilton-Smith (Mar 11)

Nora Gruhn (Mar 31)

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Powell Lloyd

Performance DatesBohème 1941

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

11 Mar, 19.30 15 Mar, 19.00 17 Mar, 19.00 20 Mar, 19.00 26 Mar, 14.00 29 Mar, 19.00

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

31 Mar, 19.00 3 Apr, 19.00

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