Opera Scotland

Manon Lescaut 1920O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Manon Lescaut

The O'Mara company made two visits to Scotland in 1920, and Aberdeen received them for a fortnight in the spring and a further one in the autumn. The length of both these visits may have been due to the much-lamented closure of Her Majesty's Theatre in Dundee in 1919. It had been a regular date for O'Mara during the war years, but had just been acquired, in rather controversial fashion, by a London-based cinema chain. It would be a couple of years before the big Dundee variety house, the King's, was made available for opera. The people of the north were the gainers.

The Aberdeen schedules were:

Week commencing 19 April: Mon Bohème; Tue Tannhäuser; Wed Lily of Killarney; Thu Madam Butterfly; Fri Marriage of Figaro; Sat mat Traviata; Sat eve Faust.

Week commencing 26 April: Mon Samson and Delilah; Tue Un ballo in maschera; Wed Bohemian Girl; Thu Wally; Fri Manon Lescaut; Sat mat Faust; Sat eve Trovatore.

Week commencing 22 November: Mon Cav & Pag; Tue Bohème; Wed Maritana; Thu Faust; Fri Romeo and Juliet; Sat mat Rigoletto; Sat eve Tannhäuser.

Week commencing 29 November: Mon Lohengrin; Tue Samson and Delilah; Wed Puritan's Daughter; Thu Trovatore; Fri Seraglio; Sat mat Madam Butterfly; Sat eve Lily of Killarney.

This repertoire contains many of the standard favourites of the day - perhaps Carmen is the only obvious omission. There are several distinct novelties - not just Verdi (Un ballo in maschera), Gounod (Romeo and Juliet) or Puccini (Manon Lescaut) but also Catalani (La Wally) and even Balfe (The Puritan's Daughter). The fact that the little-known Mozart works, Figaro and Seraglio, were both scheduled for a Friday implies that the local orchestral players would need some extra rehearsals during the week.

Puccini's first international success has never achieved anything like the popularity of the three works that followed it. Though it reached London only months after its first performance, it would take a while to reach Scotland (Aberdeen 1918), when it was given by Joseph O'Mara's ever-enterprising company. They kept it going for three Scottish visits, introducing it to Glasgow and Edinburgh in the spring of 1920.

Timings given in the programme for the four acts are of 40, 40, 25 and 10 minutes, with two intervals of 20 minutes after the first and second acts. Total expected duration was 2 hours and 35 minutes.

The cast for 30 April is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library.

Performance DatesManon Lescaut 1920

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

30 Apr, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

4 Jun, 00.00

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