Opera Scotland

Trovatore 1928British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Trovatore

Is it reasonabkle to assume that the provision of a solitary performance of Il trovatore on a mid-week matinee, when seats were notoriously difficult to sell, is a sign that the BNOC management were lacking in enthusiasm for this hugely popular war-horse?  It was, after all, being played by the Carl Rosa company as well - and they would be happy to play it to the popular Saturday evening audiences.  At any rate,  a single performance at the end of a four week famine would keep the company on their toes.  It does seem, however, that when leading singers were off form,  perhaps the effect of a cold, there was no one available to 'go on'.

 

A Glasgow Critic's View

The Glasgow Herald critic on Thursday, 8 November (p13) wrote:

'The British National Opera Company gave the usual two performances yesterday,  presenting  Il trovatore at the matinee and giving a repeat performance of Lohengrin in the evening.  The Verdi work has probably been the subject of more pleasantries than any other opera.  The story provides the material for most of the humour - and it certainly is ridiculous enough as presented in the libretto,  and too complicated to be followed without serious study - but the music has also been made fun of.  Did not Holst parody one of the episodes in The Perfect Fool?  On the other hand Il trovatore found a distinguished champion recently in Dame Ethel Smyth,  who heard it a year or two ago after a long period and placed it among the greatest operas in the world.

'Dame Ethel's enthusiasm will not be fully shared by many connoisseurs,  but it is a fact that Il trovatore,  while laying itself open to parody in the Convent Scene of Act II and one or two other places,  is a remarkable work in its great collection of spontaneous melodies, and in the directness of its dramatic expression.  All operatic companies play Il trovatore, and some are misled by the simplicity of the score into doing it less than justice.  This is particularly true with regard to the orchestra,  which has sometimes been likened to a huge guitar.  But Mr Barbirolli,  who conducted yesterday's performance,  showed clearly by his careful handling of his forces how much can be done with simple rhythmic figures and other simplicities of accompaniment.  Even such a passing touch as the phrase of three simple chords for strings that appears several times in the scene of Di Luna's camp was made to contribute something real and true to the dramatic situation,  while the moments of climax were given with full power and made a thrilling effect.  The orchestral playing,  except for an occasional misunderstanding,  was all good.

'On the stage the work was not always so satisfying.  Miss Beatrice Miranda had some trouble with her voice.  Often it had all its usual beauty,  but sometimes,  especially in quiet passages,  the singing was scarcely audible owing to loss of quality.  Mr Hughes Macklin sang well,  but his intonation gave cause for anxiety more than once.  Mr Ralph Humble,  a new Count di Luna,  showed considerable promise,  which should be fulfilled with further experience of the part.  Miss Gladys Parr was excellent as Azucena,  and is to be commended for avoiding the melodramatic exaggerations which are so often introduced in impersonations of this role.  It was not difficult to believe in Azucena as she was played yesterday.  The male chorus sang flat in the ''Miserere'' scene,  but the chorus work as a whole was well done.  The gipsy encampment was staged in superior fashion, with good grouping and effective lighting.'

 

BNOC in Scotland 1928

This final Scottish tour by BNOC was only four weeks instead of the six enjoyed the previous year.  This is partly because the King's Theatre in Dundee, an excellent modern venue, visited for the first time in 1927,  was now a cinema and no longer available.  But Aberdeen (His Majesty's) was still a welcoming venue along with Edinburgh (King's) and Glasgow (Theatre Royal).

The fifteen operas performed were:

Mozart (Magic Flute);  Rossini (Barber of Seville);  Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Lohengrin;  Mastersingers);  Verdi (TrovatoreAïdaFalstaff);  Gounod (Faust);  Bizet (Carmen);  Massenet (Manon);  Puccini (Bohème,  Madam Butterfly);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana)

 

The tour schedule was as follows:

Aberdeen, w/c 15 October:  Mon 15  Lohengrin;  Tue 16  Carmen;  Wed 17 mat  Tannhäuser;  Wed 17 eve  Madam Butterfly;  Thu 18  Aïda;  Fri 19  Falstaff;  Sat 20 mat  Bohème;  Sat 20 eve  Cav & Pag.

Edinburgh, w/c 22 October:  Mon 22  Manon;  Tue 23  Lohengrin;  Wed 24 mat  Faust;  Wed 24 eve  Barber of Seville;  Thu 25  Magic Flute;  Fri 26  Falstaff;  Sat 27 mat  Carmen;  Sat 27 eve Madam Butterfly.

Glasgow, w/c 29 October:  Mon 29  Lohengrin;  Tue 30  Tannhäuser;  Wed 31 mat  Faust;  Wed 31 eve  Barber of Seville;  Thu 01 Nov  Falstaff;  Fri 02  Manon;  Sat 03 mat Carmen;  Sat 03 eve  Bohème.

Glasgow, w/c 05 November:  Mon 05  Falstaff;  Tue 06  Magic Flute;  Wed 07 mat  Trovatore;  Wed 07 eve  Lohengrin;  Thu 08  Aïda;  Fri 09  Mastersingers;  Sat 10 mat  Manon;  Sat 10 eve  Madam Butterfly.

Performance Cast

Leonora a Duchess, lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon

Beatrice Miranda (Nov 07 m)

Count di Luna a young noble of Aragon

Ralph Humble (Nov 07 m)

Manrico a chieftain under the Prince of Biscay

Hughes Macklin (Nov 07 m)

Azucena a Biscayan gypsy woman

Gladys Parr (Nov 07 m)

Performance DatesTrovatore 1928

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

7 Nov, 14.00

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