Opera Scotland

Aïda 1938Glasgow Grand Opera Society

Read more about the opera Aïda

This run of Aida was both the final series of prewar performances given by Glasgow Grand and the last occasion on which the company was conducted by Erik Chisholm. Afterwards, the outbreak of hostilities put a halt to the activities of not only this but much other music-making. Soon after the war ended Chisholm emigrated to South Africa to take up an academic post in which he was able to transform musical life there.

The staging of Aida included the importation of a dance scheme choreographed for the Paris Opéra, though it seems unlikely that Espinosa would have travelled to Glasgow to supervise it. The cost of the production also meant that in a break with Glasgow Grand custom and practice, only one work was scheduled for the week. All but two roles were double-cast. The production of Aida was a failure financially, and there were to be no staged performances till after the war. 

The cast featured an appearance by the great heroic tenor Walter Widdop in some of the performances, just a few weeks before he sang in the premiere of the Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music. Many of the company regulars were on display, their performances going back to the ground-breaking stagings of Idomeneo and The Trojans. The young baritone William Dickie here takes on a major Verdi role. One intriguing feature of the casting is that one of three singers alternating as the off-stage Priestess is one H Anthony Wilson. He is listed among the chorus sopranos, one of four male singers, but we do not know if he was a young treble or a counter-tenor (from one of the local church choirs).

Cast details are from a programme in the Mitchell Library collection.

Performance Cast

Ramfis High Priest

George McClements

Radamès Captain of the Guard

Walter Widdop (Mar 28, 30; Apr 1, 2 e)

Matthew Dickie (Mar 29, 31; Sat 2 m)

Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt

Jenny Black (Mar 28, 30; Apr 1, 2 m)

Margaret Dick (Mar 29, 31; Apr 2 e)

Aïda an Ethiopian slave

Norah Sinclair (Mar 28, 30, 31; Apr 2 e)

Jean Watson 2 (Mar 29; Apr 1, 2 m)

King of Egypt

William McGill (Mar 29, 31; Apr 2 m)

Barton Brown (Mar 28, 30; Apr 1, 2 e)

Messenger

Hugh McColl

Priestess

Elizabeth N Fridge (Mar 28, 31; Apr 2 m)

Catherine Gilmour (Mar 29; Apr 1)

H Anthony Wilson (Mar 30; Apr 2 e)

Amonasro King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda

P Campbell Moir Mar 28, 30; Apr 2 e)

William Dickie (Mar 29, 31; Apr 1, 2 m)

Performance DatesAïda 1938

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

28 Mar, 19.30 29 Mar, 19.30 30 Mar, 19.30 31 Mar, 19.30 1 Apr, 19.30 2 Apr, 14.30 2 Apr, 19.30

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