Opera Scotland

Traviata 1941Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Traviata

At the outbreak of war, the theatres were all closed, apparently for the duration, since it was believed that the morale-sapping effect of a crowded building suffering a direct hit would be counter-productive. Attitudes quickly changed, however, and companies such as Sadler's Wells spent the war years touring in fairly rigorous conditions. The effect on national morale seems to have been positive.

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).

This cast is from a programme in the NLS collection.

Performance DatesTraviata 1941

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

14 Mar, 19.30 18 Mar, 19.30 29 Mar, 14.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

31 Mar, 19.30

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2019

Site by SiteBuddha