Opera Scotland

Valkyrie 1927British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Walküre

BNOC was rapidly running out of money by this time - the Depression was affecting the entire economy, including, of course, ticket sales.  Despite this the company spent six weeks in Scotland, a fortnight each in Glasgow and Edinburgh, then a week in Aberdeen and Dundee.  Of the total of 48 performances, ten were of Wagner.  Two elements of the Ring were given - Glasgow and Dundee seeing The Valkyrie while Edinburgh and Aberdeen were treated to Twilight of the Gods, (or Dusk of the Gods as they called it then).

Sadly, the financial clout of cinema companies permitted them to acquire theatres up and down the country which rapidly reduced the availability of touring venues in centres like Dundee.  Even if BNOC had survived,  the theatre, as a touring destination,  did not.

The complete cast for 29 September is from a programme in Glasgow's Mitchell Library.  The six leading roles and conductor for the second performance on 4 November are taken from the Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post and the Dundee Courier & Advertiser.  The Glasgow programme indicates that Norman Allin was scheduled to sing Hunding,  while the review asserts that Radford went on.  Walter Hyde had been a leading performer of Siegmund since the Covent Garden Ring of 1908.  It is interesting to note that the minor Valkyrie performers included one of the company's Butterflies (Eda Bennie) and the Manon (Marguerite Anderson).


The view from Glasgow

The Glasgow Herald review on Friday,  30 September (p12) found it to be a thrilling performance:

'What may fairly be called the great event of the opera week in Glasgow was the revival of The Valkyrie last night at the Theatre Royal by the British National Opera Company.  It is something of a grievance with many of the Company's local supporters that the word ''revival'' should be applicable to the case.  It would be wrong to say that the later Wagner has been kept from us.  Did not the BNOC begin their first Scottish tour with a production of Parsifal?  We have recurring performances of Tristan;  and The Mastersingers,  happily,  is often with us.  But we have been allowed to starve, very nearly so far as The Ring is concerned.

'It was given complete during the season in the Coliseum a good many years ago,  and a few productions of single operas have been offered since,  but they have been much too few.  No formal census of local opinion has been taken,  of course,  but a suggestion,  frequently put forward in the foyer and in other places outside the theatre is - a production of The Ring complete every second year,  with perhaps a single opera of the four in the years between.  There may be difficulties,  permanent or incidental, in the way of fulfilment, but it is at least good that the Company should know the views of a section of their Glasgow patrons.

'It is significant that last night's performance brought a very large audience and aroused unusual enthusiasm.   And the enthusiasm was not merely the expression of joy at hearing again this wonderful music,  but was further an acknowledgement of the very high quality of the whole performance.  The cast was well chosen, and had the further interest of novelty in most of the principal roles.  But the great feature of the performance was its uniform quality.

'The evening opened well, with a vivd rendering by the orchestra of the great Prelude,  which served to show within a few bars that Mr Aylmer Buesst and his players understood each other thoroughly;  and the spontaneous quality in the playing was seldom absent from any of the following work,  either in the orchestra or on the stage.  Mr Buesst has not done better on any previous appearance in Glasgow than he did last night.

'The score is one of the treasures of music,  and includes so much that is delicate and transparent in texture that it must offer special delights to a conductor willing and able to ''nurse'' it.  It has, indeed, long stretches, particularly in the first act,  that have all the intimacy of chamber music.  Mr Buesst was specially successful in treating such passages which were well phrased and finely balanced.  This intimacy of expression in the orchestra was echoed on the stage (where, as regards opera in general, it is too rarely heard), and it came almost as a new experience in Glasgow,  to sit in a theatre hushed,  in that special way which comes when a true atmosphere has been created, by the delicacies of Wagnerian opera.  Anti-Wagnerians who cannot believe this possible should examine the full score.

'Mr Horace Stevens, the Wotan of the cast was making last night his operatic debut in Glasgow.  He offered a properly dignified conception of the part, and sang with great effect, contributing his full share of that intimacy of delivery that has been emphasised above.  The Valkyrie is, vocally considered,  the most grateful, perhaps, of all the Ring operas in its melodic lines, and it was good,  let it be said again, to have those ever-present lyrical beauties so well cared for.  Miss Gladys Ancrum as Brünnhilde was also fine, in spite of a disturbing brilliance on some of her top notes.  Her mezza voce is very beautiful in quality,  and was most happily employed in those opening phrases of her defence in the last act.  Miss Constance Willis sang splendidly as Fricka.  Miss Rachel Morton as Sieglinde and Mr Walter Hyde as Siegmund showed fine vocal resource and particular insight in their impersonations, and the excellent cast was completed by Mr Radford as Hunding.

'One or two small points in stage production might be altered with advantage.  To see the assembled Valkyries in the last act thrusting out their spears on the first beat of each bar suggested a class in physical culture,  and in any case the timing was not very good.  Wotan also had a way of threatening with his upraised spear which was not always dignified;  and did Fricka not show a rather ungoddess-like sense of satisfaction after her victory in the argument with Wotan?  Wagner has made the impressive presentation of his gods and goddesses a difficult matter,  but they should endeavour to maintain their godhean in spite of him.'


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 (Tannhäuser,  Mastersingers,  Valkyrie,  Twilight of the Gods);   Verdi  (Aïda);   Bizet (Carmen);  Saint-Saëns (Samson and Delilah);  Massenet (Manon);   Leoncavallo  (Pagliacci);   Puccini  (Bohème,  Madam Butterfly,  Gianni 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

Siegmund a Volsung

Walter Hyde (Sep 29; Nov 4)

Sieglinde a Volsung, sister of Siegmund

Rachel Morton (Sep 29; Nov 4)

Hunding husband of Sieglinde

Robert Radford (Sep 29)

Norman Allin (Nov 4)

Wotan father of the Valkyries and Volsungs

Horace Stevens (Sep 29; Nov 4)

Brünnhilde a Valkyrie

Gladys Ancrum (Sep 29; Nov 4)

Fricka Wotan's estranged wife

Constance Willis (Sep 29; Nov 4)

Gerhilde a Valkyrie

Marjorie Parry (Sep 29)

Ortlinde a Valkyrie

Marguerite Anderson (Sep 29)

Waltraute a Valkyrie

Justine Griffiths (Sep 29)

Schwertleite a Valkyrie

Gertrude Hember (Sep 29)

Helmwige a Valkyrie

Eda Bennie (Sep 29)

Siegrune a Valkyrie

Frances Frost (Sep 29)

Grimgerde a Valkyrie

Beatrice Stanley (Sep 29)

Rossweisse a Valkyrie

Ethel Freegarde (Sep 29)

Performance DatesValkyrie 1927

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

29 Sep, 18.30

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

4 Nov, 18.30

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