Opera Scotland

Aïda 1926British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Aïda

Once it reached these shores, Aïda quickly became a popular favourite in Britain, appearing in the schedules of several touring companies.

BNOC seem to have been able to field varied casts using mainly British singers (the American Rachel Morton being a notable exception).

This cast for 22 October is taken from a programme in the Edinburgh Room of Edinburgh City Library. The soprano singing the off-stage Priestess in Act 2 is not identified.  A similarly complete cast for the Glasgow performance (a Saturday matinee on 09 October) appears in the review in Monday's Herald, which also covers the evening Rigoletto.

 

The Glasgow View

The Glasgow Herald reviewed the Saturday matinee the following Monday, 11 October, (p6):

'One of the best performances of Verdi's Aïda ever given by the British National Opera Company in Glasgow took place at the Theatre-Royal on Saturday afternoon.  Miss Rachel Morton, who was cast for the title role, was indisposed, and Miss Beatrice Miranda at short notice undertook to sing the part.  Miss Beatrice Miranda is not only a gifted singer, but also an accomplished dramatic artist.  Her study of the beautiful Egyptian slave, who has won the love of Radamès, is distinguished in many ways, and her bearing under a series of cruel experiences is strong and unfailingly true to nature.

'Mr Parry Jones was the Radamès, and he also was specially brilliant and even thrilling, in his high notes, and sang with fine discrimination all through the opera.  Mr Philip Bertram, who represented the King of Egypt, had a truly kindly bearing to which his rich, sonorous voice gave point and character.   Ramphis, the High Priest, had a dignified exponent in Mr William Anderson.   Aïda's great rival,  Amneris, was played by Miss Constance Willis, and was clearly a great performance, both vocally and dramatically.  Amonasro, the father of Aïda, taken prisoner in the war which was the cause of most of their sorrow and trouble, had a splendid interpreter in Mr Percy Heming.  The small part of the messenger was well filled by Mr Liddell Peddieson.

'Beautiful scenery threw the glamour of ancient Egypt over the whole scene, and the dresses were superb.  A special feature was the charming Court dancers, with Miss Joyner as principal.  Mr John Barbirolli discharged the duties of conductor with thorough efficiency.'

 

And in Edinburgh

The Scotsman on Saturday, 23 October (p8) reviewed the Friday night performance:

'A week of opera which has presented many attractions, including two novelties, The Leper's Flute and Les Petits Riens - the latter, it is interesting to note, to be repeated this afternoon, before Hugh the Drover - was last night further enriched by an admirable rendering of Verdi's Aïda.  Despite its half-century, or more, of existence, and the tendency in some circles to deprecate everything of Verdi's of earlier date than Othello and Falstaff, Aïda wears well.  It has the advantage of possessing one of the best librettos in existence, a text which starts from a plausible situation, the infatuation of a Princess for a young soldier about the Court, who has himself bestowed his affections elsewhere, and proceeds to a logical conclusion, tragedy for all three persons involved.  To this text Verdi has supplied music which gets unerringly to the heart of every situation.

'It is an opera which must be acted as well as sung.  Mr Frank Mullings has appeared in Edinburgh a number of times as Radamès, but it is doubtful if ever to such advantage as last night.  Some years ago he used to convey the impression of throwing all his resources into an interpretation, until there was nothing left.  Last night, as in Othello earlier in the week, there was, however, always the feeling of something in reserve.  This was apparent in every scene, but perhaps most of all in the fourth act, where Radamès resists the entreaties of Amneris.  Throughout it was very beautiful art.

'Miss Rachel Morton, who was the Aïda, sang and acted well, although with a suggestion that one of the great rôles of opera was taxing her resources with some severity.  It was nevertheless an impersonation marked by much that was charming, and in the more lyrical passages Miss Morton's voice was heard to particular advantage.

'Miss Muriel Brunskill's Amneris is already known to the Edinburgh public, but last night it seemed better than ever before.  The scene with Aïda in the second act, and with Radamès in the fourth, and particularly when she listens to the charges against him of treason, had a dramatic force which created a great impression.

'Mr William Michael, despite a cold, was excellent as Amonasro, while the High Priest of Mr Norman Allin, and the King of Mr William Anderson, were repetitions of familiar successes.

'For nobody was the performance more of a triumph than for Mr John Barbirolli, the talented young conductor, who is one of the most recent recruits to the company. Keeping his tempi all fairly on the quick side, he gave an animation and a well-defined rhythmic feeling to the music which made for a fine exhilaration.

'It was an altogether enjoyable performance, in which dramatic action and singing, excellent orchestral work, massive and brilliant ensembles, and handsome staging all had their share.'

 

BNOC in Scotland 1926

The company spent three weeks in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh - 1927 would see them venturing further north.  Wagner and Puccini led the field, with four operas each. There were a total of four works by three composers of the French school. Verdi was represented by one middle-period and two late masterpieces. 

Notably there were two recently composed British works - something BNOC would never achieve again.

The 20 operas performed in Scotland on this tour were:

Mozart (Marriage of Figaro);  Wagner (Tannhäuser Tristan and IsoldeMastersingers,  Parsifal);  Verdi (Rigoletto,  Aïda,  Otello);  Gounod (Faust,  Romeo and Juliet);  Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (Bohème ToscaMadam Butterfly,  Gianni Schicchi);  Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel);  Vaughan Williams (Hugh the Drover);  Bryson (Leper's Flute).

 

The performance schedule was as follows:

Glasgow, w/c 27 September:  Mon 27  Aïda;  Tue 28  Carmen;  Wed 29 m Faust;  Wed 29 e Madam Butterfly;  Thu 30  Parsifal;  Fri Oct 01  Tosca;  Sat 02 m  Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 02 e  Tales of Hoffmann.

Glasgow, w/c 04 October:  Mon 04 Romeo and Juliet;  Tue 05 Otello;  Wed 06 m  No Perf;  Wed 06 e Bohème;  Thu 07 Marriage of Figaro;  Fri 08 Mastersingers;  Sat 09 m Aïda;  Sat 09 e Rigoletto.

Glasgow, w/c 11 October:  Mon 11 Parsifal;  Tue 12  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci; Wed 13 m Romeo and Juliet;  Wed 13 e Hansel and Gretel;  Thu 14  Tristan and Isolde;  Fri 15 Leper's Flute;  Sat 16 m Madam Butterfly;  Sat 16 e Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 18 October:  Mon 18 Romeo and Juliet;  Tue 19 Leper's Flute;  Wed 20 m Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 20 e  Otello;  Thu 21  Parsifal;  Fri 22  Aïda;  Sat 23 m Hugh the Drover;  Sat 23 e Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 25 October:  Mon 25 Rigoletto;  Tue 26 Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci;  Wed 27 m Madam Butterfly;  Wed 27 e Tosca;  Thu 28 Tristan and Isolde;  Fri 29 Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 30 m Parsifal;  Sat 30 e Bohème.

Performance Cast

Ramfis High Priest

William Anderson (Oct 09 m)

Norman Allin (Oct 22)

Radamès Captain of the Guard

Parry Jones (Oct 09 m)

Frank Mullings (Oct 22)

Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt

Constance Willis (Oct 09 m)

Muriel Brunskill (Oct 22)

Aïda an Ethiopian slave

Beatrice Miranda (Oct 09 m)

Rachel Morton (Oct 22)

King of Egypt

Philip Bertram (Oct 09 m)

William Anderson (Oct 22)

Messenger

Liddell Peddieson (Oct 09 m, 22)

Amonasro King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda

Percy Heming (Oct 09 m)

William Michael (Oct 22)

Dancer

Olive Joyner (Oct 09 m, 22)

Performance DatesAïda 1926

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

9 Oct, 14.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

22 Oct, 19.00

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