Opera Scotland

Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1927British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg

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.


BNOC in Scotland 1927

The 1927 Scottish tour included six weeks, two each in Glasgow (Theatre Royal) and Edinburgh (King's), and a further week each in Aberdeen (His Majesty's) and Dundee (King's) - the first time that BNOC went north of the central belt.

Fifteen operas were performed:

Mozart (Marriage of Figaro,  Magic Flute);  Rossini (Barber of Seville);  Wagner (TannhäuserMastersingersValkyrieTwilight of the Gods);   Verdi  (Aïda);   Bizet (Carmen);  Saint-Saëns (Samson and Delilah);  Massenet (Manon);   Leoncavallo  (Pagliacci);   Puccini  (Bohème,  Madam ButterflyGianni Schicchi).

The schedule was as follows:

Glasgow, w/c 26 September:  Mon 26  Barber of Seville;  Tue 27  Magic Flute;  Wed 28 mat  Bohème;  Wed 28 eve  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci:  Thu 29  Valkyrie;  Fri 30  Marriage of Figaro  Sat 01 mat  Madam Butterfly;  Sat 01 eve  Aïda.

Glasgow, w/c 03 October:  Mon 03  Carmen;  Tue 04  Manon;  Wed 05 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 05 eve  Barber of Seville;  Thu 06  Mastersingers;  Fri 07  Samson and Delilah;  Sat 08 mat  Magic Flute;  Sat 08 eve  Tannhäuser.

Edinburgh, w/c 10 October: Mon 10  Barber of Seville; Tue 11  Mastersingers;  Wed 12 mat  Gianni Schicchi & Pagliacci;  Wed 12 eve  Magic Flute;  Thu 13  Manon;  Fri 14  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 15 mat  Bohème;  Sat 15 eve  Samson and Delilah.

Edinburgh, w/c  17 October:  Mon 17  Barber of Seville;  Tue 18  Twilight of the Gods;  Wed 19 mat Madam Butterfly;  Wed 19 eve  Tannhäuser;  Thu 20  Carmen;  Fri 21  Manon;  Sat 22 mat  Magic Flute;  Sat 22 eve  Aïda.

Aberdeen, w/c 24 October:  Mon 24  Barber of Seville;  Tue 25  Twilight of the Gods;  Wed 26 mat  Magic Flute;  Wed 26 eve Manon;  Thu 27 Mastersingers;  Fri 28  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 29 mat  Madam Butterfly;  Sat 29 eve Aïda.

Dundee, w/c 31 October: Mon 31  Mastersingers;  Tue 01 Nov  Barber of Seville;  Wed 02 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 02 eve  Madam Butterfly;  Thu 03  Manon;  Fri 04  Valkyrie;  Sat 05 mat  Bohème;  Sat 05 eve  Aïda.

Performance Cast

Walther von Stolzing a young knight

Parry Jones (Oct 31)

Eva daughter of Pogner

Rachel Morton (Oct 31)

Magdalene Eva's nurse

Constance Willis (Oct 31)

David apprentice to Sachs

Heddle Nash (Oct 31)

Hans Sachs a shoemaker

Andrew Shanks (Oct 31)

Veit Pogner a goldsmith

Robert Radford (Oct 31)

Sixtus Beckmesser town clerk

Herbert Langley (Oct 31)

Fritz Kothner a baker

Bernard Ross (Oct 31)

Konrad Nachtigall a tinsmith

Ralph Humble (Oct 31)

Balthasar Zorn a pewterer

Frank Aikens (Oct 31)

Ulrich Eisslinger a grocer

Martin Quinn (Oct 31)

Kunz Vogelgesang a furrier

Percy Harris (Oct 31)

Augustin Moser a tailor

Liddell Peddieson (Oct 31)

Hans Foltz a coppersmith

Thomas Hindmarch (Oct 31)

Hermann Ortel a soap-boiler

Leslie Horsman (Oct 31)

Hans Schwarz a stocking-weaver

Frank Le Pla (Oct 31)


Philip Bertram (Oct 31)

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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