Opera Scotland

Bohème 1955Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Bohème


The highlight of the Carl Rosa tour of 1955 was the inclusion of several communities which had slipped off the circuit. Gaumont Cinemas had become aware that they owned several buildings that were still fully equipped with stages, and a decision was taken to allow a varied diet of live performance for six weeks every year. These included the Southend Odeon and Brighton Essoldo, as well as Gaumonts in Southampton, Chester, Doncaster and Preston.

The Tour

The only place in Scotland to be affected was Dundee - its Gaumont, the onetime King's Theatre, had been a very successful variety house, opening in 1909 and also staging touring shows, including opera, from 1921. It had been acquired by a cinema company in 1928 to satisfy the apparently insatiable demand in the city for moving pictures, especially when "talkies" were beginning to appear. It was therefore nearly thirty years since Carl Rosa had visited Dundee, even if smaller companies had appeared sporadically in other less ideal buildings.

To the surprise of many, all seven performances sold out immediately. The company's reaction was to add an extra midweek matinee (of Barber of Seville) and to make plans for an early return visit. This established a pattern which survived the takeover by Sadler's Wells, and continued until 1961, when the theatre was converted to a wide-screen cinema and lost its stage altogether (along with many other vital features - boxes, upper circle and front-of-house space). The irony, for opera audiences in the city, was that Scottish Opera was established in 1962, and first toured outside the central belt (to Aberdeen) as early as 1965. Without regular feeding, the habit of opera-going in the city has gradually died.

The two-week visit to the Glasgow Theatre Royal was, by contrast, a regular feature of Carl Rosa tours. Works shown only in Glasgow were Don Giovanni, Carmen, The Tales of Hoffmann and Tannhäuser. Both cities saw Bohème, Barber of Seville, Cav & Pag, Rigoletto, Trovatore and Faust.

Tour itinerary

The schedule was:

Glasgow (1) - week commencing 2 May: Mon Bohème; Tue Barber of Seville; Wed Cav & Pag; Thu Faust; Fri Tannhäuser; Sat mat Bohème; Sat eve Carmen.

Glasgow (2) - week commencing 9 May: Mon Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Rigoletto; Wed Bohème; Thu Cav & Pag; Fri Don Giovanni; Sat mat Barber of Seville; Sat eve Trovatore.

The intervening week, commencing Monday, 16 May, was spent at the Globe Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees.

Dundee - week commencing 23 May: Mon Bohème; Tue Rigoletto; Wed mat Barber of Seville; Wed eve Cav & Pag; Thu Faust; Fri Barber of Seville; Sat mat Bohème; Sat eve Trovatore.

Cast details are taken from a copy of the Dundee programme held by OperaScotland.

Performance Cast

Rodolfo a poet

Charles Craig (May 23)

William Aitken (May 28)

Marcello a painter

David Allen (May 23)

Arthur Copley (May 28)

Colline a philosopher

Richard Golding (May 23)

Ernest Thomas (May 28)

Schaunard a musician

John Heddle Nash

Benoit the students' landlord

Geoffrey de Latour

Mimì a seamstress

Estelle Valery

Parpignol a toy vendor

Michael O'Farrell

Musetta a grisette

Krystyna Granowska

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Geoffrey de Latour

Custom-house Sergeant

Basil Hemming

Performance DatesBohème 1955

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

2 May, 19.30 7 May, 14.30 11 May, 19.30

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

23 May, 19.00 28 May, 14.00

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