Opera Scotland

Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1927British National Opera Company

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The British National Opera Company (BNOC) was established in 1922 and operated successfully, performing in English, until the economic depression began.  Its debts accumulated so that by 1928 its deficit was serious.  In 1929 it was taken over as the Covent Garden English Opera.  It is therefore, to a degree, the forerunner of the present Royal Opera.

It toured to Glasgow or Edinburgh pretty much annually, with a larger orchestra than usual for touring companies, and featuring performances by many of the greatest singers in the English-speaking world.  In 1927, by which time it was already struggling financially, it made its longest Scottish tour, lasting six weeks.  Not only did it spend a fortnight in Glasgow, followed by a similar period in Edinburgh, but it then made its first visit north of the central belt.  A week in Aberdeen was followed by one in Dundee.  Wagner was a staple of the repertoire.  Mastersingers was seen in all four cities.  Tannhäuser in Glasgow and Edinburgh.  Valkyrie in Glasgow and Dundee;  Twilight of the Gods in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

It was the company's standard practice to give eight performances each week.  This today seems an astonishing, if not actually reckless, form of activity.  For example, the eight operas in Dundee were: Mon Mastersingers;  Tue Barber of Seville;  Wed mat Marriage of Figaro;  Wed eve Madam Butterfly;  Thu Manon;  Fri The Valkyrie;  Sat  mat La Bohème;  Sat eve Aïda.  Most of these works had been performed in Dundee regularly before - only Manon and The Valkyrie were local premieres.  The five earlier weeks showed a similar degree of variety.

Eugene Goossens II was a familiar figure from thirty years conducting the Carl Rosa company on and off.  Aylmer Buesst and Leslie Heward were both highly regarded between the wars.  Young John Barbirolli went on to have the most exceptional career of the lot.  Of the singers, Robert Radford, Norman Allin, Walter Hyde, Parry Jones and Heddle Nash all had important careers.  So also did Gladys Parr, Constance Willis. Noël Eadie, Dennis Noble and Percy Heming.

The complete Mastersingers cast is taken from a copy of the Dundee programme for 31 October.  The 7 October issue of the Scotsman reviews the Glasgow evening and specifies that Barbirolli was in charge.

Performance DatesMastersingers of Nuremberg 1927

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

6 Oct, 18.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

11 Oct, 18.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

27 Oct, 18.30

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

31 Oct, 18.30

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