[ The Edinburgh Opera Company and its 'reconstitution'. ] Three manuscript volumes of the 'reconstituted company': a minute book with newspaper cuttings, circulars and ephemera; an account book; and a book of the details of associate members.

Edinburgh Opera Company, founded by Loudoun Shepherd [ William Scott, Chairman; James Kirk Wilkie, Hon. Sec.; Scottish amateur music; Edinburgh Corporation Education Committee ]
Publication details: 
The Edinburgh Opera Company, Edinburgh, Sc otland. Between 1949 and 1951.
SKU: 20440

The Edinburgh Opera Company was founded by Loudoun Shepherd around 1919, with productions until at least 1979, when it put on the Flying Dutchman at the Royal Lyceum Theatre. As the first entry in Item One reveals, the Company's reconstitution was as a result of a collaboration with an opera class set up by the Edinburgh Corporation Education Committee. In a cutting present in Item One, the Daily Record, 16 March 1949, described the venture as 'a brave effort to resuscitate amateur grand opera in Edinburgh […] That the centre of one of the world's leading festivals should be without any amateur grand opera is fantastic, and due credit must be given to the 70-odd folk endeavouring to take up the work which lapsed when the old Edinburgh opera company ceased some years before the war.' The present collection consists of three folio account books, not uniform. Internally in good condition, lightly aged, each in a worn black halfbinding of leather spine and cloth covers. ONE: 'The Edinburgh Opera Company | Minutes | 1948-19[sic].' 69pp., folio. Ends with an informal council meeting, 8 March 1950. Autograph minutes, signed by William Scott, Chairman. With one signed note by James Kirk Wilkie, Hon. Sec. Interspersed with more than 40 newspaper cuttings (several relating to proposals for a Scottish ('National') Opera Company), together with duplicated circulars, two concert programmes. The first programme from the Gateway Theatre, accompanied by a ticket, is for the first concert by the reconstituted company, 15 March 1949; the second, from the Cygnet Theatre, 1 and 2 April 1949, is of the second concert, and the first at Company's new venue. In addition to the usual business, both financial and practical, of a company, the minutes record details of auditions, and the appointments of the Company's producer, associate members, accompanists, 'Costumes & Scenery'. 'Cast Election of Opera […] made by Committee', 'Proposed Photographs of Principals', 'Ice Cream for Audience', 'Tea for Company & Orchestra during Week of Show'. The first entry in the volume is headed: 'Minute of Public Meeting held in Broughton School on Monday 25th October 1948 (in response to a notice in the press) to reconstitute the Edinburgh Opera Company'. (Cuttings of three notices of the meeting are laid down, as is a cutting of a report of the meeting from the Scotsman, 26 October 1948, titled 'Revival of Edinburgh Opera Company'.) The minute begins: 'Mr Loudon [sic, for 'Loudoun'] Shepherd (formerly Business Manager of the original Company), who inserted the notice presided over an attendance of about 70. In proposing the reconstitution of the Company he intimated that Edinburgh Corporation Education Committee was interested in the venture through the new Institute of Music at Broughton School. He emphasised that the Company would not be under the Education Committee. It would be a body operating independently but availing itself of the facilities offered by the Corporation. The Education Committee had formed an Opera Class attendance at which would be a condition of Membership of the Edinburgh Opera Company – but Class Members need not necessarily be Members of the Company. The Education Committee had engaged a conductor and an accompanist and would place the Cygnet Theatre, St Leonards Street at the service of the Company.' After noting the appointment of officers, 'It was intimated that the Company (and the Class already started) would study Gounod's “Faust” during the Session and that a limited number of Copies of the vocal score would be supplied by the Education Committee'. On 16 May 1949 comes 'The First Annual General Meeting of the (reconstituted) Edinburgh Opera Company […] held in Castlehill School'. A meeting on 15 June 1949 begins with an audition at which six ladies and two gentlemen (all named) are 'admitted to Membership fo the Company', while six applications (again from named parties) are rejected. ('Mr Archibald Bennett (late accompanist of the Wessex-Bournemouth Opera Company) played the accompaniments'.) A minute of 31 August 1949 carries the following note on 'difficulty re Theatre': 'As regards a theatre or hall for the presentation of the Opera selected there was in Edinburgh little or no choice, and arrangements had to be put in hand months beforehand. We had been working on a half promise of the Gateway Theatre and it was only at the end of August that the Secretary had been informed that owing to their new policy the “Gateway” would not be available. We were fortunate however at that late hour, in being successful in securing the Music Hall.' TWO: Volume of accounts, 1949-1951. 41pp., folio. Double entry accounts, with the volume divided into the following seven sections: 'Subscription Account', 'Music Score Account', 'Advertising Account', 'General Account', 'Production Account', 'Orchestra Account', 'Associate Members' Account'. Containg interesting entries casting light on the musical social history in the Edinburgh of the period. The credits in the 'General Account' begin with a 'Donation from Mr. J. Kirk Wilkie being proceeds of raffle of autographed lease presented by him'. The debits include 3s 'repaid Mr. David Wilkie for two keys purchased by him for piano in Pillar Hall', £5 3s 2d to 'British Road Services for cartage of costumes for last year's production', 5s to 'Taxi – for conveying Tympany ex J. & R. Glen to the Pillar Hall'. THREE: 'Roll of Associate Members'. Pencil note beneath title: '(say) 140 for 1951/52 Prospectus'. 43pp., folio. In a number of different hands. The main part of the volume (29pp,) consists of a thumb-indexed alphabetical list of the names and addresses of the members, with the names of those they were 'Introduced by'. At the front of the volume are thirteen pages of the names of members headed 'General List', subdivided into '1949-50' (132 names), '1950-51' (70 names), '1951-1952' (147 names and addresses) and '1952-1953' (10 names and addresses). The list for '1951-1952' covers four and a half pages, and has the addresses of the 147 members added in red ink, together with names and details relating to their introduction to the company (for example: 'Member of Orchestra | Introduced by J[ames] K[irk] W[ilkie]', 'Mr King Orchestra', ''Former Member of the Company', 'news report', 'Friends of Music', 'Special letter', '(Mrs Ross Orchestra) | Personal friend of, and introduced by J. K. W.')