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Matlock & District Amateur Operatic Society, Productions 1907-69
Matlock : Twentieth Century Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings

How it began

On August 16th 1906 a number of people interested in forming a Matlock and District Amateur Operatic Society gathered at Matlock Town Hall with Mr. Henry Challand, the managing director of Smedley's Hydro, chairing the meeting. Funds were collected from those present with £50 suggested as the guaranteed amount needed. It was also decided to form a committee and officers were duly elected, although the chosen President (the Right Hon. Victor Cavendish, M.P.) and Vice-Presidents (Messrs F. C. Arkwright, J.P. D.L., Mr. J. B. Marsden-Smedley, J.P., and Col. Robertson-Aikman) were not present on the night. From those who were at the meeting E. H. Charge became the Secretary, Mrs. Charge was appointed Registrar, Mr. W. Basquil was elected as Treasurer and the Executive Committee was Miss Leslie, Miss Newton, Messrs. McGee, W. Bond and L. G. Dickenson. Other attendees included: Mrs. McGee, Misses Speed, Miss Wall, Mr and Mrs Kirkham, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. G. Else, Miss K. Hartley, Messrs. L. Callender, H. Loveday, J. Franklin Thomas, J. Davenport, J. Parker, Hotchings, W. Sharp, W. Ellis and J. Hartley[1]. Many of these names can be found in the 1908 programme.

The Society's first production, and up to 1914

The comic opera "Erminie" was chosen for their initial production and the first rehearsal was held in the Town Hall during September the same year[2]. The show itself was performed over three nights in front of a large audience in February 1907 and was deemed to be excellent[3]. The Victoria Hall on Smedley Street was selected for their first show and this was their chosen venue for some years afterwards. This changed in 1911 when an additional performance was staged in the newly built and more commodious Kursaal (or New Pavilion) in Matlock Bath, something that continued until 1914 when the First World War intervened[4].

From then on

As can be seen from the list below it took a further eight years after the war had ended for the Society to get back on its feet and stage "The Yeomen of the Guard". Recovery was a little quicker after the Second World War and performances have been an annual event. The Society has become Matlock Musical Theatre (see link below).

Programmes and productions

Below are listed all the productions, with images of a selection of covers. I unfortunately don't have all programmes for all the productions listed so there are blanks against some of the programme titles; I would welcome any additions to fill the gaps if you are able to help (see Contact Ann in the footer).

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The Cinema House, 1922

Images of People section


1938 & 1939

1907 - Erminie
- 1907 - Erminie, the first production (see above)
1908 - The Mikado

- 1908 - The Mikado

» See transcript of names and some advertisements from the programme: Matlock & District Amateur Operatic Society, The Mikado, 1908
» An advertisement from this production can be found on Matlock at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

(No image available) - 1909 - H.M.S. Pinafore
1910 - Tom Jones

- 1910 - Tom Jones

» Advertisements from this production can be found on Matlock at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
» Another advertisement from this programme is included on Matlock: Crown Square, 1901

(No image available) - 1911 - Belle of Brittany
" - 1912 - Les Cloches de Corneville
" - 1913 - The Yeomen of the Guard
" - 1914 - The Pirates of Penzance
There were no productions in the years between and including 1915 and 1926.
(No image available) - 1927 - The Yeomen of the Guard
" - 1928 - Iolanthe
1930 - The Gondoliers

- 1930 - The Gondoliers

» Matlock & District Amateur Operatic Society, 1930 - The Gondoliers

(No image available) - 1931 - Ruddigore
" - 1932 - The Yeomen of the Guard
" - 1934 - The Chocolate Soldier
The Quaker Girl

- 1935 - The Quaker Girl

Musical Comedy by James T. Tanner.
Lyrics by Adrian Ross and Percy Greenbank.
Music by Lionel Monkton.

- 1936 - The Desert Song

Musical comedy. Principal roles performed by:
Constance Bratby (Azuri)
Lesley Fearn (Sid El Kar)
Sam Fowkes (Ali Ben AlLi)
Jessica Hazlewood (Hadji's wife)
Vincent Hobbs (Gen. Birabeau)
Horace Holmes (Sergt. de Boussac)
A. Stanley Moreton (Capt Paul Fontaine)
Ernest Needham (Lieut. La Vergne)
E. O. Simms (Pietre Birabeau)
Arthur Tibbs (Hadji)
Miss Inez Tinti (Margot Bonvalet)
Arthur Turner (Benjamin Kidd)
J. Harwood Turner & Arthur Wright (Mindar & Hassi)
Margaret Wrigley (Susan, Birabeau's Ward)
Marie L. Wright (Susan's friend)

(No image available) - 1937 - The Rebel Maid


- 1938 - The Arcadians

»See Some of the chorus (Matlock & District Amateur Operatic Society, 1930s)


- 1939 - The Gondoliers

»See Some of the chorus (Matlock & District Amateur Operatic Society, 1930s)

There were no productions in the years between and including 1940 and 1946.
(No image available) - 1947 - The Geisha
" - 1948 - Goodnight Vienna

- 1949 - Merrie England

Two act comic opera.
Music by Edmund German to a libretto by Basil Hood.
Set in reign of Elizabeth I.
(No image available) - 1950 - The Mikado
1951 - A Country Girl
- 1951 - A Country Girl
(No image available) - 1952 - Tom Jones
1953 - The Street Singer
- 1953 - The Street Singer
(No image available) - 1954 - Bless The Bride
" - 1955 - Night in Venice (English Premiere)
1956 - The Gondoliers

- 1956 - The Gondoliers

» See photos of the cast and those backstage. Includes a photo of a group at the opera ball.

1957 - The Yeomen of The Guard

- 1957 - The Yeomen of the Guard (Golden Jubilee Year)

Principal roles in this G&S production were performed by:
Fred Wood (Cholmondeley)
Frank Clay (Fairfax)
Gerald West (Sgt Merrill)
Jack Hammond (Leonard Merrill)
Harry Briddon (Shadbolt)
Mary Jones (Elsie Merrill)
Joyce Loverock (Phoebe Merrill)
Margaret Kent (Dame Carruthers)
Doreen Moreton (Kate)

1958 - Pink Champagne
- 1958 - Pink Champagne
(No image available) - 1959 - Trial by Jury and The Pirates of Penzance
" - 1960 - The Merry Widow
White Horse Inn
- 1961 - White Horse Inn
1962 - The Mikado

- 1962 - The Mikado

Produced by Alastair Storey.
The cover design was the the same as that used by Chesterfield Amateur Operatic Society in 1955. Frank Clay played Nanki-Poo in both productions.

1963 - The Country Girl
- 1963 - The Quaker Girl
1964 - Passion Flower
- 1964 - Passion Flower
(No image available) - 1965 - The Arcadians
" - 1966 - Iolanthe
The Student Prince
- 1967 - The Student Prince (Diamond Jubilee)

- 1968 - The Desert Song

First produced on Broadway in 1926.

- 1969 - Rose Marie

A musical set in the Canadian Rockies.
First produced on Broadway in 1924.

Note from the web mistress:
You may be curious to know why I should be particularly interested in the Operatic Society. My father was a member for some years and played leading tenor roles. Matlock Operatic Society's productions were part of our family's life and have also been enjoyed by several generations of Matlock and District's inhabitants.

Matlock Musical Theatre, formerly Matlock Operatic Society, has a web site.

Images from programmes in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Additional images (1935, 1936, 1949, 1968, 1969) provided by and © Susan Tomlinson collection.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Derbyshire Times", 11 August 1906 (advertisement) and "ibid", 18 August 1906 (report of meeting).
[2] "ibid", 22 September 1906.
[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", Saturday 9 February 1907.
[4] Various newspapers.