Scottish opera stars

We have recently added some interesting early 20th century items to our collections associated with two of the famous names from Scotland’s musical past.

Debussy Melisandre


In their day opera stars Mary Garden and Joseph Hislop were very big international names indeed. Garden, the epitome of the glamorous prima donna, was born in Aberdeen in 1874, emigrated as a child to the USA, and became a great success in the operas of Massanet and Charpentier.She was famously chosen by Debussy as the composer’s very first Melisande in 1902. She retired to Aberdeen in the 1950s, and died near Inverurie in 1967. Born in Edinburgh in 1884 Hislop began his singing career in Sweden, and excelled in the tenor repertoire. Away from the opera stage he was the screen’s first talking and singing Robert Burns in 1930. His retirement brought him to Fife where he continued to coach singers. He died in 1977. We have acquired theatre and concert programmes from their distinguished careers, including Hislop’s farewell Scottish tour in 1934 and a photograph of Miss Garden and her aged Aberdonian father – captioned “Diva and her Dad” – visiting Hollywood in 1936. (Photograph of Mary Garden from Boydell & Brewer’s recent publication Debussy’s Melisande)