Muriel Dickson as Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore

Muriel Dickson (1928-35)

[Born Edinburgh 12 Jul 1903, died Glasgow 11 Mar 1990]

Constance Muriel Dickson studied in Italy before joining the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company chorus in March 1928. During her first few months with the Company she made an occasional appearance as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance. In July 1928 she was given the small part of Fleta in Iolanthe, and July 1929 she added Ada in Princess Ida when that opera was restored to the repertoire.

The following (1930-31) season, she played only Fleta and Ruth in Ruddigore on a regular basis, but filled in for Winifred Lawson and Rita Mackay on several occasions in the principal sopranos parts of Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Patience in Patience, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard, and both Casilda and Gianetta in The Gondoliers.

Miss Lawson left the Company at the end of the 1930-31 season, and when the next season began in August 1931, Muriel Dickson assumed many of her roles. During the 1931-32 season she appeared as Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Patience in Patience, Phyllis in Iolanthe, Lady Psyche in Princess Ida, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Rose Maybud in Ruddigore, Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Gianetta in The Gondoliers. (She shared several of these roles with Rita Mackay and Winifred Lawson who returned to the Company to replace Miss Mackay in February 1932.)

Muriel Dickson was the principal soprano in 1932-33, Winfred Lawson having left once again. Miss Dickson continued to appear as Josephine, Mabel, Patience, Phyllis, Yum-Yum, Rose, Elsie, and Gianetta, while swapping Psyche for the more demanding title role in Princess Ida, and adding Aline in The Sorcerer when that opera was restored during the London season (December 1932). In August 1933, she yielded Mabel, Yum-Yum, Rose, and a share of Phyllis to newcomer Eileen Moody.

For the 1934-35 season, she continued to perform as Josephine, Patience, Phyllis, Ida, Elsie, and Gianetta (Sorcerer had been dropped from the repertoire again). The season included a 15-week engagement at New York's Martin Beck Theatre, and it was there that Miss Dickson was seen by representatives from the prestigious Metropolitan Opera. She fulfilled her commitment to the D'Oyly Carte, remaining with the Company until June 1935, but then left to join the Met.

Her debut with the Metropolitan Opera was in May 1936 as Marie in The Bartered Bride.She sang with the Met for several seasons in The Bartered Bride, Pagliacci, Il Matrimonio Segreto, and as Amelia in the first Met production of Gian-Carlo Menotti's first opera, Amelia Goes to the Ball, in 1938. Upon leaving the Met in 1940 she went on the recital stage.

After leaving the stage, Miss Dickson taught singing in her native Scotland for over thirty years--until she was well into her eighties. She wrote her memoirs, "There And Back," late in life. They were later edited by Michael Walters and published by The Gaiety in 2004.

Muriel Dickson may be heard on several D'Oyly Carte recordings: as Gianetta (Gondoliers, 1931), Mabel (Pirates, 1931), Rose Maybud (Ruddigore, 1931), Elsie Maynard (Yeomen, 1931), Princess Ida (Princess Ida, 1932), and Aline (abridged Sorcerer, 1933).

Page modified January 27, 2018 © 2001-18 David Stone