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The Haddington Amateur Operatic Society

The Haddington Amateur Operatic Society was formed on Monday, December 19th 1910. It was formerly called Mr W. H. Ewen’s Opera Company. Mr Ewen (William Hugh Ewen), a Scottish Aviator, was the fifth UK holder of a certificate from the Royal Aeronautical Society. In 1911, Mr Ewen was also the first to cross the Firth of Forth in his Deperdussin monoplane.
The decision to form the Operatic Society resulted from the success of the earlier company’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. For the their first official presentation, the Operatic Society members selected Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado which was performed at the Haddington Corn Exchange in December the following year. This production was a financial success and cast members were summoned for several encores. Members of the cast and orchestra celebrated their success with a supper and a dance at the Assembly Rooms.

The Operatic Society’s first annual general meeting was held on January 15th 1912 in which the meeting focused on financial matters, the election of new office bearers, the revision of rules, and the choice of productions/operas. In December 1912, members of the Operatic Society gave a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s famous comic opera Iolanthe. This production was highly successful and attracted a large volume of audience, including many distinguished patrons such as the Earl of Haddington, the Marquis of Tweeddale, the Marquis of Linlithgow and the Earl of Wemyss. The gratifying financial result totalled to somewhere in the neighbourhood of £100.

Some images of the Operatic Society in its latter years can be viewed in a collection of photographs donated by Mrs Margaret Pringle who was actively involved in later productions.

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