Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Rutland Boughton

Letter No.: 
July 21 [1929]

13 Cheyne Walk

Dear Boughton

After you left Holst & I had a long conversation which is summarized in the enclosed suggestions which I send to you in case they are of any use to you.
Yours sincerely

R Vaughan Williams


Memorandum of suggestions for Opera scheme by G.H. & R.V.W.1

A.  No splash e.g: Mountain Ash festival to start with - The opening performances to be on the same scale as what we propose to continue with.  Also under the same circumstances.  A show by a small company intended for Cooperative hall should not be judged by the critics under the circumstances of a London Theatre; Therefore the invited “press” show should take place in the provinces at one of the Cooperative halls.
B.   Performances, though small in scale should be as nearly perfect as possible in quality - Therefore we do not advise operas which audiences may have seen on a large scale with all the glitter and tinsel of a large crowd and showy costumes etc - There must be no feeling of “make shift” e.g 2 men & a boy to represent a whole regiment of soldiers.  The operas must be chosen with regard to this.
C.   We suggest that under a good Director local amateur effort might be enlisted in each town visited, to walk on & represent crowds etc or even where possible to help in the chorus.
D.   We suggest everything on a small scale to start with - No orchestra but only a piano (N.B. a good piano should be bought and carried round - not to depend on the local piano.) A company of about 20 - everyone willing to take a hand at everything e.g The principal Soprano of Monday would walk on on Tuesday - help mend the costumes on Wednesday and be “noises off” on Thursday - But everyone of these artists must be first rate and hard working.
E.   We suggest as two quite separate propositions that “The Immortal Hour” is a good opera to start with and that R.B. would be the best Director - and to avoid any suspicion that R.B. was made Director and then chose his own work, the work should be selected first and R.B then invited by the Ctee to direct it and incidentally any other operas in the repertoire.
F.   We suggest a repertoire of not more than 3 operas - besides ‘The Immortal Hour’ - We suggest Glucks “Orpheus”  Mozarts ‘Cosi fan tutte’  Verdi’s “Rigoletto”
 (Also Stanford’s “Shamus O’Brien” & Holst’s “Golden Goose” ballet - These last 2 added by R.V.W since conversation with Holst)
G.   We think it a mistake to pose as “British” Opera - British Opera is at present, very naturally, suspect - it will we are sure have to be introduced at first in small doses.

1. Boughton had asked for advice about his plan to start a Welsh Festival.

Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
Add MS 52366, ff. 92-96

Location of copy:

Shelfmark of copy: 
MS Mus. 1714/1/7, ff.98-102
General notes: 

In the hand of AVW, signed by RVW.
Date from R.V.W.: biography, pp.176-177.

Cobbe 177; R.V.W.: a biography, p.176-177
Original database number: