Opera Scotland

Götterdämmerung 1923British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Twilight of the Gods

Having seen Rhinegold and Valkyrie on Monday & Tuesday 19 & 20 March, then Siegfried on Tuesday, 27 March, it must have seemed a long wait for cyclists to see Twilight of the Gods on Friday, 6 April.

To present day audiences, the most unusual feature of this cast must be the fact that the three Norns, in the Prologue, were sung by the same trio of ladies who returned at the start of the third act in the guise of Rhinemaidens.  It seems unlikely that each was paid two fees.

In his closing comment the Herald reviewer looks forward to performances of the Ring becoming regular events in Glasgow.  Sadly, he was too optimistic.  After Denhof in 1911 and BNOC in 1923, the next cycle in Glasgow, indeed in Scotland, was Scottish Opera's first, in 1971.  English National Opera, on its final tour to Scotland, performed a cycle in 1976.  After that, Glasgow had to wait for Scottish Opera's second production in 2003.  Denhof, BNOC and ENO performed in English, Scottish Opera in German.

 

Critical Response

The Glasgow Herald of Saturday, 7 April (p7) summarized things:

Last evening in the Glasgow Coliseum the story of the Nibelung's Ring was brought to its impressive close with The Twilight of the Gods.  It must ever be reckoned among the greatest of Wagner's many great achievements that he was able to finish the mightiest conception in the history of music with an opera that furnishes a true climax.  Looking back after last night's performance on the complete cycle of operas they are now seen from the dramatic point of view to be in each case only a preparatory episode leading up to the closing work.

'The same may be said of them as regards music, though the application here is more limited.  Both The Valkyrie and Siegfried are musically very complete, and some of the leading themes in The Valkyrie are only heard for the time in that opera.  But in the Twilight of the Gods, while there are, as in the previous operas, some themes, and very striking ones, which make their appearance for the first time, the great bulk of the music is built up from material with which the listener is already familiar, and the themes are gathered from all the other sections of the gigantic work.

'Both dramatically and musically, therefore, the listener is made to feel that the Prelude and the first and second parts of the Trilogy culminate in the third part, and that the formal principles which govern the structure of each separate evening have been successfully exemplified by Wagner in the complete Ring.

'The very title of the final opera has in it something of special weight and import, and is worthy of admiration for its quality of poetic grandeur and power of suggestion.  In providing further for a chorus, which makes here its only appearance in the Ring, and for more action and of a more striking kind than the earlier operas afford, Wagner has helped the impressive effect of the closing work in a purely technical sense.  In spite of one or two places, notably in the second act, where the musical inspiration seems to flag once or twice for a short spell, the Twilight of the Gods, when well rendered, must always be a very impressive work to see and to hear.

'Last evening the British National Opera Company gave a strikingly good performance, and the very large audience which turned out to hear it was duly impressed, and aroused at the close of each act to demonstrations of unwonted enthusiasm.

'The opera was very well cast, Mr Andrew Shanks being perhaps less happily suited in his part than the other members.  Gunther is a weak creature and rather a thankless part to play, and while Mr Shanks showed that he understood the character he was handicapped in his interpretation of it by the comparatively light quality of his voice.

'Mr Arthur Jordan as Siegfried was notably good, and improved on his previous appearances, adding brilliance to his singing without any sacrifice of the more subtle qualities.  His interpretation of the part was finely thought out and developed and had a fine culmination in his last scene.  Here everything he did was excellent, from his conversation with the Rhine-maidens to his recital of his earlier experiences, and his dying references to Brünnhilde.

'Miss Florence Austral sang with great brilliance as Brünnhilde and achieved altogether a great success.  This is the most important of the three Brünnhildes, and the comp[any are fortunate in possessing a vocalist so fonely qualified for the part.

'Another striking impersonation was offered by Mr Norman Allin in the part of Hagen.  By his splendid singing, his remarkable clear diction, and his general bearing he created his own atmosphere and made this sinister figure one of the dominating characters in the drama.

'Miss Edna Thornton was not quite in her best form vocally, though her singing as Waltraute improved as she went on.  Miss Elsy Treweek sang finely as Gutrune.

'The three Norns and the three Rhine-maidens were sung by Misses Muriel Brunskill, May Blyth, and Doris Lemon.  Their performance in the latter capacity is worthy of special commendation.  They have allotted to them some of the most beautiful music Wagner ever wrote, and by their admirable ensemble and balance of tone they made the most of their great opportunity.

'The cast was completed by Mr William Michael, who sang the small part of Alberich in effective fashion.

'The chorus, augmented by members of the Glasgow Grand Opera Society, was, as always, very reliable.  Mr Aylmer Buesst conducted, and secured very fine results from the orchestra.  Their playing was always good and frequently brilliant, and half the credit for this fine performance of the Twilight of the Gods must go to them.

'Twelve years separated the first and second Glasgow performances of the Ring.  Now that the British National Opera company have produced it so successfully there should be no occasion for Glasgow to wait long for a third performance.' 

 

BNOC in Scotland - 1923 (Spring & Autumn)

The company's Spring visit lasted five weeks - two in Edinburgh (King's Theatre) and three in Glasgow (at the Coliseum, as the Theatre Royal was not available).

Returning in the autumn, the visit again lasted five weeks - four in Glasgow (this time at the Theatre Royal) and one in Edinburgh (King's Theatre).

The 29 operas performed were Bach (Phoebus and Pan);  Mozart (Seraglio,  Marriage of Figaro,  Magic Flute);  Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Mastersingers,  Rhinegold,  Valkyrie,  Siegfried,  Twilight of the Gods);  Verdi (TrovatoreAïda Otello);  Gounod (Faust);  Bizet (Carmen);  Saint-Saëns (Samson and Delilah);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (Bohème,  Tosca,  Madam Butterfly,  Gianni Schicchi);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana);  Humperdinck (Hansel and Gretel);  Debussy (Pelléas and Mélisande);  Charpentier (Louise);  Smyth (Boatswain's Mate,  Fête Galante);  Holst (Savitri,  Perfect Fool).

The schedule was as follows:

Spring

Edinburgh, w/c 5 March:  Mon 5 Samson and Delilah;  Tue 6 Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 7 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 7 eve Aïda; Thu 8 Madam Butterfly;  Fri 9 Carmen;  Sat 10 mat Phoebus and Pan & Pagliacci;  Sat 10 eve Trovatore.

Edinburgh, w/c 12 March:  Mon 12 Seraglio;  Tue 13 Tannhäuser;  Wed 14 mat Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 14 eve Hansel and Gretel;  Thu 15 Magic Flute;  Fri 16 Mastersingers;  Sat 17 mat Bohème;  Sat 17 eve Faust.

Glasgow, w/c 19 March:  Mon 19 Rhinegold;  Tue 20 Valkyrie;  Wed 21 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 21 eve Phoebus and Pan & Pagliacci;  Thu 22 Madam Butterfly;  Fri 23 Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 24 mat Magic Flute;  Sat 24 eve Trovatore.

Glasgow, w/c 26 March:  Mon 26 Seraglio;  Tue 27 Siegfried;  Wed 28 mat Samson and Delilah;  Wed 28 eve Louise;  Thu 29 Phoebus and Pan & Pagliacci;  Fri 30 Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 31 mat Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 31 eve Madam Butterfly.

Glasgow, w/c 2 April:  Mon 2 Carmen;  Tue 3 Mastersingers;  Wed 4 mat Bohème;  Wed 4 eve Samson and Delilah;  Thu 5 Magic Flute;  Fri 6 Twilight of the Gods; Sat 7 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 7 eve Aïda.

Autumn

Glasgow, w/c 29 October:  Mon 29 Magic Flute;  Tue 30 Samson and Delilah;  Wed 31 mat Phoebus and Pan & Pagliacci;  Wed 31 eve Bohème;  Thu 1 Nov Aïda;  Fri 2 Valkyrie;  Sat 3 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Sat 3 eve Madam Butterfly.

Glasgow, w/c 5 November:  Mon 5 Savitri Perfect Fool;  Tue 6 Louise;  Wed 7 mat Madam Butterfly;  Wed 7 eve Cavalleria Rusticana & Gianni Schicchi;  Thu 8 Siegfried;  Fri 9 Otello;  Sat 10 mat Magic Flute;  Sat 10 e Faust.

Glasgow, w/c 12 November:  Mon 12 Aïda;  Tue 13 Mastersingers;  Wed 14 mat Samson and Delilah;  Wed 14 eve Savitri & Perfect Fool;  Thu 15 Tosca;  Fri 16 Bohème;  Sat 17 mat Fête Galante & Bosun's Mate;  Sat 17 eve Phoebus and Pan & Gianni Schicchi.

Glasgow, w/c 19 November:  Mon 19 Faust;  Tue 20 Otello;  Wed 21 mat Hansel and Gretel;  Wed 21 eve Aïda;  Thu 22 Pelléas and Mélisande;  Fri 23 Fête Galante & Boatswain's Mate;  Sat 24 mat Cav & Pag;  Sat 24 eve Magic Flute.

Edinburgh, w/c 26 November:  Mon 26 Aïda;  Tue 27 Louise;  Wed 28 mat Fête Galante & Boatswain's Mate;  Wed 28 eve Phoebus and Pan & Gianni Schicchi;  Thu 29 Pelléas and Mélisande;  Fri 30 Savitri & Perfect Fool;  Sat 31 mat Magic Flute;  Sat 31 eve Madam Butterfly.

Performance Cast

First Norn

Muriel Brunskill (Apr 6)

Second Norn

May Blyth (Apr 6)

Third Norn

Doris Lemon (Apr 6)

Brünnhilde Siegfried's lover

Florence Austral (Apr 6)

Siegfried

Arthur Jordan (Apr 6)

Gunther a Gibichung

Andrew Shanks (Apr 6)

Hagen son of Alberich

Norman Allin (Apr 6)

Gutrune a Gibichung, Gunther's sister

Elsy Treweek (Apr 6)

Waltraute a Valkyrie, Brünnhilde's sister

Edna Thornton (Apr 6)

Alberich a Nibelung

William Michael (Apr 6)

Woglinde a Rhinemaiden

Doris Lemon (Apr 6)

Wellgunde a Rhinemaiden

May Blyth (Apr 6)

Flosshilde a Rhinemaiden

Muriel Brunskill (Apr 6)

Performance DatesGötterdämmerung 1923

Map List

Coliseum | Glasgow

6 Apr, 18.00

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