Opera Scotland

Cavalleria Rusticana 1938Universal Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Cavalleria Rusticana

This two-week late winter visit to Dundee was the first local appearance by the Universal company, though they had worked in Glasgow as early as 1936.

The performance schedule was:

First w/c Monday 28 February:  Mon 28 Cav & Pag;  Tue 1 Mar Trovatore;  Wed 2 m Faust;  Wed 2 e Tosca (Madam Butterfly advertised);  Thu 3 Carmen;  Fri 4 Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 5 m Lily of Killarney;  Sat 5 e Maritana.

Second w/c Monday 7 March:  Mon 7 Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 8 Faust;  Wed 9 m Cav & Pag;  Wed 9 e Bohème;  Thu 10 Tosca;  Fri 11 Barber of Seville;  Sat 12 m Madam Butterfly;  Sat 12 e Bohemian Girl.


The company returned to Dundee at the end of the year:

First w/c Monday 19 December:  Mon 19 Faust;  Tue 20 Cav & Pag;  Wed 21 m Carmen;  Wed 21 e Marriage of Figaro;  Thu 22 Madam Butterfly;  Fri 23  Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 24 m Maritana;  Sat 24 e Tosca.

Second w/c Monday 26 December:  Mon 26 Faust.

Further tour dates to be confirmed.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser:  Saturday, February 26 1938

Councillor J W Lomax, Bolton, cotton manufacturer and patron of the arts, is responsible for bringing to Alhambra Theatre, Dundee, next week the Universal Grand Opera Company.  The company consists of 70 artistes, and this will be their first visit to Scotland.  They will remain in Dundee for a fortnight, giving performances of the better-known operas.  Opening performances of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci on Monday night will be a civic occasion, the Lord Provost,magistrates, and other municipal personalities having been invited to attend.

It cost nearly £4000 to start the company, which travels scenery for 17 operas and an orchestra of 16, under Mr Michael Brierley.  Artistes include Henry Gill, from Sadler's Wells;  Horace Vincent and William F Aspden, from Covent Garden;  David Grundy, who played Schubert in a film version of Lilac Time; Gaston Thomas, a young tenor who made many admirers in Dundee on the last visit of the O'Mara Company;  Joseph Leavy, and Alfred Godwin.

Ladies include Misses Ethel Austen, Evelyn Bury, Elsie Boardman, Winifred Walker, Olive Westwood, Eily Murnaghan, Mona Ryley, Florence Whittle, and Anne Fraser.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Wednesday, December 14  1938

Opera Privileges for School Pupils - Reduced Prices at Alhambra

In a desire to foster the love of opera among the rising generation, the management of the Universal Grand Opera Company, who open a season at Alhambra Theatre, Dundee, on Monday, are offering special privileges to pupils of the senior schools in the city.

With the approval of the school authorities, parties of pupils will be admitted to the best seats at the opening performance - Gounod's Faust - at a charge of 1s.  This facility, of which great advantage was taken on the occasion of the company's last visit to Dundee, entails a loss, but the deficit is made good by Mr J W Lomax, who is noted for his efforts to encourage appreciation of opera by British audiences.  An additional privilege is being offered the children on this occasion.  They are being provided with cards which will entitle them individually to attend any performance during the week at the reduced rate of 1s.

The magistrates and other office-bearers of the Town Council have accepted invitations to attend the opening performance.  The leading role in Faust will be sung by Gerald Davies, a young Welsh tenor, who was discovered two months ago by Mr Lomax at Blackpool, where he was singing in a show on Central Pier.  Frank Mullings, famous tenor, who is acting as producer for the company, in addition to singing in various operas, coached Mr Davies, who appeared with such success at the Prince's Theatre, Manchester, that he has been continued in the role.

The company's prima donna is May Devitt, brilliant young soprano, who has made several appearances recently as guest artiste at Sadler's Wells, and other well-known singers among the principals are Edward O'Reilly, William J Aspden, David Grundy, Jules Cosman, Ernest Davies, Elsie Boardman, and Winifred Walker.  There is a chorus of 35 voices and an orchestra of 16.

An innovation this season will be a prologue to each opera, spoken by Miss Moira Yeoman.  It is felt this will enhance the audience's enjoyment by helping them to follow the story clearly.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Monday, January 2 1939

also in

Dundee Evening Telegraph: Monday, January 2 1939 p2


Notice to the Theatre Public of Dundee and Surrounding Districts

I, Arthur Henderson, Proprietor, must apologise to my patrons for the abrupt finish of the Universal Grand Opera Company.  I tried everything within my power to persuade them to stay for New Year's Week, but all in vain.

Only having three days' notice from the Company's Manager, it was impossible in so short a time to procure another show.

I must thank the Government for relieving the Theatre of Entertainment Tax for this special week.





Performance DatesCavalleria Rusticana 1938

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