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TRER/8/134 · Item · 6 Aug 1940
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

18 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh. - Thanks Bessie for a kind letter: she left Donald [Tovey] on the day of his death at quarter to one and he 'spoke those words' [see 8/133] to her 'quite clearly', but he may have become unconscious after that and when she returned around six he had died. Wonders whether Bessie went to Worplesdon for the burial of Donald's ashes; an old friend went and told her about it, but she herself had not heard it was to take place, yet Worplesdon is only about fifteen minutes drive from her house at Knaphill; wishes she had known. Has not been well recently, but has been working slowly on a project of turning most of this flat to a memorial: Molly Grierson says that there is nowhere for the students to do quiet work; would be happy to gift it to the university. Molly is 'overburdened in every way', especially family troubles. Some of Donald's old books are still here, such as his old "Missa Solemnis" over which she found him weeping [see 8/132] and from which he chose what was to be played and sung by Mona Benson. The memorial service in St Giles was very beautiful: old members of the Reid Orchestra came 'from far away places'; the 'whole University came in their magnificent robes'; Mollie conducted the orchestra in her red Doctor's robes, while she in hers 'crouched in a corner weeping'. Donald 'need not have died so soon... in such agony about his hands', if he had been left in London with Dr de Souza and not 'that damp place [Hedenham] where Lady Tovey and John [Wellcome Tovey] told him he was 'only lazy' [for not practising]. Dr de Souza had arranged somewhere safe for him to go in London if there was anxiety about the [Westminster] Hospital. Wonders whether Dr Blut [sic: Karl Bluth] is interned; very much 'admired and agreed with him as a doctor' and wishes she could help him. John has been sent suddenly somewhere in the South, for coastal defence: 'they have grown quite reckless with the lives of young men by the thousand'. Originally enclosing two poems by Professor [Oliffe Legh?] Richmond, which she thinks beautiful and like Donald. Her taxi driver today commented that she would be missing Donald and said 'We all thought there was nobody like him'; used to go on Sunday nights to hear him. Found herself 'sobbing on the man's arm'.

TRER/6/214 · Item · 7 Jan [1932]
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

Hedenham Lodge, Bungay, Suffolk. - Asks if Trevelyan could return to her in Edinburgh the letter from the [Edinburgh] Opera Company which she sent to him; they want a detailed answer from Donald which he cannot give without seeing the letter. Things are not going smoothly [with the revival of Tovey and Trevelyan's opera "The Bride of Dionysus"], but they will know more when they return to Edinburgh on Monday night. Miss [Mona] Benson has gone to Sir Hugh Allen 'of all people'; who rang Donald up and is to see him tomorrow in London. Does not know what Miss Benson has to complain of from Donald, 'who has done all he can to support her with the Company' in the, Clara thinks, 'very unreasonable attitude she is taking; nor what Sir Hugh Allen has to do with the affair. Hopes Bob is having a good time abroad, but they will be very glad when he returns.

TRER/6/215 · Item · 27 Jan [1932]
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

39, Royal Terrace, Edinburgh. - The floor rehearsals [for Tovey and Trevelyan's opera "The Bride of Dionysus"] seem to be going well. Miss [Mona] Benson was not there last night, but only because she is not well. The Toveys will be glad to see him at any time: Donald thinks he will like to see Miss Benson's rehearsals. She thinks that the 'crisis is past' and Miss Benson will carry on. Hopes Bessie is better again: was sorry to hear that she was unwell.

TRER/6/223 · Item · 15 Feb 1932
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

39 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh. - Cannot carry on with the production of [Trevelyan and Tovey's opera] "The Bride of Dionysus": has tried to adapt her ideas to 'the existing conditions in the [Edinburgh] Opera Company', but finds it impossible. Attendance at rehearsals has been 'very irregular'; the 'Athenian castes are not yet decided upon' so she has not been able to rehearse the second act with the right people; would prefer it not to be produced this year at all 'much less be responsible for the production'. If the production goes ahead as planned, she is happy for any of her ideas to be used, but must 'definitely ceased to be connected with the production'. Went through the whole of the second act with those who were there at the rehearsal tonight, and plans to repeat 'the worst bits' tomorrow night, so that the act 'will be more or less shaped in the minds of those who have attended' before she leaves the company. No floor rehearsal next week. Is very sorry but feels she cannot do otherwise; hopes Trevelyan understands; has written the same letter to Professor Tovey.

TRER/6/224 · Item · 2 Mar 1932
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

39 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh. - Formal withdrawal, if she may, of her resignation from the production of [Tovey and Trevelyan's opera] "The Bride of Dionysus". Is sorry to have caused trouble, and since Trevelyan and Tovey feel it must be performed in April, she will do what she can to make the performance as good as possible, Thinks that having the principals alone in a smaller room will make things much easier.

TRER/6/225 · Item · 24 Mar 1932
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

as from 39 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh. - Apologises for not replying to Trevelyan's letter earlier; is taking a few days holiday but ill be back in time for the rehearsal on Easter Monday. Thanks him very much for the 'very helpful description of Act III's scenery [for Tovey and Trevelyan's opera "The Bride of Dionysus"]. Asks if she may write about 'the making-up of the principals etc' when she returns. As for the dresses, thinks it would be best or Clarksons or Simmonds' people came the beginning of the week before the opera. The fee which Trevelyan proposes for her is 'very generous'. They are starting Act III on Monday; will write again early next week.

TRER/7/55 · Item · 11 Apr 1929
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

39 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh. - Trevelyan should not worry about [John] Tainsh, who now knows his part [Theseus in "The Bride of Dionysus"] very well; his voice is the 'best of either cast' and he will be 'far better than the other man'. Wishes he had coached Mrs Everitt [who was to play Ariadne, but has dropped out] once more before putting her out: what 'the old stagers & chorus of the company' say about the second cast is not evidence, and they 'give themselves away about Harford' [the second Minos] but it is true Mrs Everitt was not learning quickly. Coached Harford this morning, as well as Tainsh, Miss Burnett [the second Phaedra] and their 'now only Ariadne' [E. Naysmith Young]; Simpson, the other Theseus, is coming this afternoon. Instead of a floor rehearsal on Saturday, all the principals from both casts, except Ariadne, are coming to Tovey's house, and Miss Benson [now producer] will also be there. Trevelyan could do 'some useful gesture work' on Saturday to help her on Sunday. If Miss Morris, the first Phaedra, 'turns her nose up at such help' they can always say they have no time to considered 'the professional feelings of local amateurs [nobodies struck through] who don't want to learn', that even now they could easily replace the whole double cast, and that the second cast is quite safe to do all four performances. Miss Grierson will be back now, and will be 'a great help, as always'. Will want Trevelyan to lose his temper if the theatre arrangements are not better this Sunday.

TRER/7/58 · Item · 2 July [1931]
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

Hedenham Lodge, Bungay, Suffolk. - Thought he had shown Trevelyan [George] Campbell's reply to his letter, and that Trevelyan had agreed that it was 'a non-committal assurance' that nothing would interfere with the success of the opera ["The Bride of Dionysus"]. Doesn't expect another letter from him. Thinks Trevelyan, as 'paymaster', should tell the [Edinburgh Opera] Company either to accept Miss Benson as producer or explain when Tovey visits Edinburgh soon what objections they have - perhaps her youth and inexperience. The position is that Trevelyan and Tovey want Miss Benson, 'who lives in Edinburgh, knows the music, and knows her job', and that she will only take the position of producer, which Tovey interprets as meaning that the authors must not interfere with her during rehearsals and discussion of details with her must take place at another time. Thinks this will go smoothly if Trevelyan makes the suggestion; the only difficulty would be if they want [Loudon] Shepher, but does not expect they would insist. Thanks Trevelyan for helping so much over the programmes: he should choose which ever time he thinks best; regarding the 15th, it is advantageous that Tovey will be tired and [George Steward?] McManus present as the work largely falls on Trevelyan, and 'McManus will be interested & not... quite so sensitive as when there's nothing else going on.'

TRER/7/61 · Item · 9 Jan 1932
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

27 Cropthorne Court, Maida Vale, W.9. - Returning to Edinburgh on Monday; hopes everything will go well. Asks Trevelyan to write to Mona Benson advising her to carry on 'with a careful abstention from raising any debated issues with the Council of the E.O.C. [Edinburgh Opera Company]': the Company's long letter to Tovey of 15 December, which Trevelyan has seen, shows he has 'reached the limit of what they will on principle concede'. Tovey's letter was written to satisfy Mona Benson, and more emphatic than he himself thought wise. Talks about the Council's 'constitutional powers' and how these co-exist with their own contract. Thinks it unwise to object to them doing [Verdi's] "Trovatore" on the Saturday evening, taking whatever time they need to rehearse it, to their having three casts and retaining the right to decide which cast will appear on the first night. Thinks these points are likely to 'slide' in Tovey and Trevelyan's favour, but not if the Company are pressed: if they are they will make difficulties. The three casts 'already concerns only Phaedra & Ariadne, and is technically & practically reducible to two plus understudies', though the word 'understudy' must not be used. There will not be three of each male part, or the choruses, though Tovey is 'training everybody they choose to send'. The groups are already mixed between new cast and old, so there is no real question of precedence. There will be time to object to the "Trovatore" rehearsals later, when they find themselves behind.

Thinks it is good that Mona Benson should be 'very severe' with the individual performers. The new material seems generally 'far better than the old', and he himself feels 'incomparably safer with [his] 3 Ariadnes & Phaedras': feels sure that they should do as Harley begged him and Mona Benson, and carry on as the Company wants to see how it works before they protest. Thinks they should humour the Company over "Trovatore": the theatre must be used on Saturday night; the Company is altering its habits out of enthusiasm for "The Bride of Dionysus," and cannot 'afford to lose recruits who are frightened by [their] work'. Should waive the claim for none of their principals to sing in "Trovatore", which will do much less harm than Brady singing in [Puccini's] "La Bohême" last time. Sympathises with Mona Benson and Trevelyan on all these points, but past experience of Edinburgh suggests it is better to let them pass for the moment. Is currently only concerned about Mona Benson 'getting panicky': she must feel she has their support. Hopes Trevelyan is having a good time; sendd his love to anyone who knows him well enough.

TRER/7/62 · Item · Feb 1932
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

39 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh. - Thinks M.B. [Mona Benson] needs a 'good blowing up' [for wanting to resign as producer of "The Bride of Dionysus" but he does not know 'the right psychological moment' and is afraid of his temper. [Stewart] Deas does not think there is much in her resignation, nor that things are going badly. There is a gap in floor rehearsals this week: thinks Trevelyan should write Mona Benson a 'pretty stiff letter' pointing out that 'a definite resignation leaves everyone in the soup', while a postponement [of the opera] is totally impractical, and that a 'merely temperamental resignation' is no way to behave. Does not feel he can argue with her again, as 'like Queen Anne or James II' she listens patiently, agrees, then 'reaffirms her original position'. The [Edinburgh Opera] Company continue to send Tovey singers for coaching, who are getting on as well as before. Has been to several floor rehearsals in which both he and Deas thought Mona Benson was 'doing admirably' and was liked by everyone; she needs to understand that these panics are not approved of; they cannot as things stand afford to lose 'even her unofficial advice'. Sees that the 'irregularities' of the company are very annoying for her, but his experience of Edinburgh has taught him to expect nothing else. The worst that may happen is that Tovey might have to take on the job of producer himself; thinks he could ensure that Trevelyan's and Mona Benson's ideas were carried out, though could not 'teach gesture or illustrate movement', or think out groupings without expert guidance, but perhaps someone else could be enlisted to work on the movements of the Satyrs and Maenads. Mona Benson is 'perfectly reasonable' with Tovey, and vice versa, but he thinks 'her education has evidently not qualified her to be reasonable with people who have less'. Wants to retain her if he can. Asks to be remembered to [Laurence] Binyon.

A note at the top of the front page instructs Trevelyan to read the postscript first. Sir Hugh Allen has just telephoned from London, offering to send up his producer [Jack] Gordon or call Mona Benson to London to meet him. Tovey told him that things might 'simmer down' with the lack of floor rehearsal, that he would put Trevelyan in touch with Allen, and that due to another project of Allen's, originally enclosed, this proposal is 'by no means as extravagant as it is generous & helpful'. Mona Benson is obviously 'too jumpy' to do without 'some stiffening'; apologises for not sending the enclosed letter from Allen before, and suggests that now they are 'in the soup in any case'' it seems a good idea to get Gordon up with Trevelyan to form an opinion; thinks Gordon will be 'very favourably impressed' with the Company's work both for the immediate and for Allen's RCM [Royal College of Music] project in London.

TRER/7/66 · Item · 8 July 1936
Part of Papers of Robert Calverley Trevelyan and Elizabeth Trevelyan

Hotel des Iles Britanniques, Aix-les-Bains. - Originally enclosing his draft of the new scene [in Act III of "The Bride of Dionysus"]. Will now orchestrate this; it is two thirds of the original length. Feels that now 'the broad-church-bishop calm of Dionysus will come to its proper effect' after the 'alarming impression of the Dionysiac frenzy'. Mona Benson's 'great moment of the closing of the gates in Act II' showed him that 'an unscored improvised yell' can sometimes be much better than any written music; cites 'the howling of Kundry' [in Wagner's "Parsifal"].