Opera Scotland

Aïda 1922British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Aïda

The British National Opera Company gave its first performance in Bradford on 6 February 1922, opening with Aïda. The company's directors had all been associated with Sir Thomas Beecham's company which had gone into liquidation in December 1920. These leaders included the soprano Agnes Nicholls, tenor Walter Hyde and basses Robert Radford and Norman Allin with the conductor Aylmer Buesst. The Musical Director was Percy Pitt. They were able to take over the former Beecham company's sets and costumes, generally quite lavish, which allowed them immediately to stage works like Aïda, Parsifal and the Ring which would otherwise have been beyond their resources.

BNOC's first Edinburgh season, lasting three weeks, followed quickly on 6 March, also with Aïda.

Cast details and comment are as reviewed in The Scotsman of Tuesday, 7 March:

'The first and most important impression to be derived from last night's performance in the King's Theatre was that the Beecham Company has returned, with some changes, it is true, in its personnel, but with its standard unaltered.........The singers may fairly be counted as representing the cream of their profession. There is an admirable orchestra, chorus and ballet are as good as under the Beecham régime, and the opera last night presented the series of gorgeous stage pictures which the Beecham performances have rendered familiar.'

'The Radamès was Mr William Boland, who sang and acted with a fire and conviction beyond anything which he has yet achieved here. For the two women who are rivals for the affections of Radamès, no better choice could have been made than of Miss Beatrice Miranda as Aïda, and of Miss Edna Thornton as Amneris. They are now both well-known impersonations, but repetition robs them of nothing of their charm. Mr Robert Radford's High Priest was another impersonation as artistic as it was familiar, and the great voice seemed to roll out with even more than its usual organ-like fulness of tone. Mr William Anderson's King was marked by a dignity of tone and bearing which made it a worthy companion piece to Mr Radford's High Priest, and the Amonasro of Mr Augustus Milner, while it did justice, vocally and dramatically, to a fine role, was robbed of a little of its due effect by a make-up which scarcely realised the idea conveyed by the text, of the Ethiopian King.'

'Mr Aylmer Buesst conducted, and under his direction the opera as a whole was given with an excellent sense of its dramatic significance, and the great dramatic ensembles were always clear and well balanced. There was a large audience, which was quick to appreciate the merit of the performance.'

Performance Cast

Ramfis High Priest

Robert Radford

Radamès Captain of the Guard

William Boland

Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt

Edna Thornton

Aïda an Ethiopian slave

Beatrice Miranda

King of Egypt

William Anderson

Messenger

Ernest Howie

Priestess

Diana Melrose

Amonasro King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda

Augustus Milner

Performance DatesAïda 1922

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

6 Mar, 19.00

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