Opera Scotland

Barbiere di Siviglia 1927British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera Barber of Seville

Rossini really wasn't anything like as popular in the early years of the twentieth century as he has since become. So it is perhaps surprising that Scottish audiences on this six-week tour saw the Barber five times, with two of them in Edinburgh. The first four performances took place on a Monday, including the opening night in Glasgow. In Dundee, for some reason, it was played on Tuesday - that week began with a bang, in the shape of The Mastersingers.

The Glasgow cast for 5 October comes from a programme in the A M Gardiner collection at the Mitchell Library. The assembly for Dundee is derived from reviews in the Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post and Dundee Courier & Advertiser, as well as advertisements. The Edinburgh cast for 17 October is from a programme in the Edinburgh Room of Edinburgh City Library.

All three Rosinas were lyric sopranos with an excellent coloratura technique, and expert performers of Mozart. However they are not the mezzo for whom Rossini composed the part - it was still some years before the great Spanish mezzo Conchita Supervia would demonstrate how the work should sound.

John Barbirolli, Heddle Nash, Dennis Noble and the rest of an expert cast would have helped show how the piece should go.


An Edinburgh Review

The Scotsman of Tuesday, 18 October (p6) was enthusiastic:

'It is an excellent thing that an opera of such irresistible gaiety and charm as The Barber of Seville,  after many years of neglect,  should have once more taken its place in the current repertory.   Last night, when the British National Opera artists gave the work for the second time during their present visit to Edinburgh,  there was evidence of its popularity in the large audience which it drew to the King's Theatre.

'Wiih one change in the cast,  Miss Marguerite Anderson replacing Miss Miriam Licette as Rosina,  the singers were the same as on last Monday night.  Miss Anderson,  making her second appearance during the present season, was a delightful Rosina.  She sang the florid music of the part with an enjoyable freshness, and gave a sparkling rendering of Auber's ''Laughing Song'' in the Lesson Scene.  Mr Heddle Nash,  as before,  was a highly effective Count,  and his flexible voice was displayed to great advantage in music which is frequently almost of the type associated with a coloratura singer,  so elaborate is its design.  He acted well,  and the scene where he figures as a drunken soldier was an excellent piece of fooling.

'The Figaro of Mr Dennis Noble,  the Dr Bartolo of Mr Percy Heming,  and the Don Basilio of Mr Robert Radford were again vocally and dramatically admirable,  and the duenna of Miss Gladys Parr,  as at the previous performance was one of the most entertaining features of the rendering of the opera as a whole.  Her singing of the air in the third act was full of quaint charm.  Mr Philip Bertram sang well as the officer,  and the serenaders in the opening scene entered into the humour of the scene with great gusto.

'The Barber is first and last a thing of ingenious and diverting ensembles,  and to this aspect of last night's performance it would be difficult to give too great praise.  Under Mr John Barbirolli's inspiring direction,  they were given with an exhilarating neatness and humour.'


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

Fiorello servant of the Count

Bernard Ross (Oct 5, 17; Nov 1)

Count Almaviva

Heddle Nash (Oct 5, 10, 17; Nov 1)

Figaro a barber

Dennis Noble (Oct 5, 10, 17; Nov 1)

Rosina Bartolo's ward

Miriam Licette (Oct 5, 10)

Marguerite Anderson (Oct 17)

Noël Eadie (Nov 1)

Bartolo a doctor, Rosina's guardian

Percy Heming (Oct 5, 10, 17; Nov 1)

Don Basilio a singing teacher

Robert Radford (Oct 5, 10, 17)

Herbert Langley (Nov 1)

Berta Bartolo's housekeeper

Gladys Parr (Oct 5, 10, 17; Nov 1)


Philip Bertram (Oct 5, 10, 17)

Bernard Ross (Nov 1)


Eric Graie (Oct 5, 10, 17; Nov 1)

Production Cast


John Barbirolli (Oct 5, 10, 17; Nov 1)


George King


Frederic Austin (Dialogue)

Performance DatesBarbiere di Siviglia 1927

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

26 Sep, 19.30 5 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

10 Oct, 19.15 17 Oct, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

24 Oct, 19.30

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

1 Nov, 19.30

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