by R.F. Bourne

Joining the D'Oyly Carte Company in 1928, Muriel Dickson had to wait several years for her big chance. At first she got only the occasional understudy roles or small speaking parts; but when Winifred Lawson, her famous predecessor, finally left, her opportunity came, and she took it with both hands.

To follow Winifred Lawson was no easy task, but for four years from 1931 Muriel made a very good job of it. She became senior principal soprano early in 1932, and from then on proved not only her class but her capacity for work, when during the following year she sang all the principal soprano roles (which then numbered ten, for "The Sorcerer" was in those days in the repertoire). A stupendous achievement.

Clear proof of her ability was her success as Princess Ida, well known to be the most difficult soprano part in the operas. She was a fine actress, and a vivacious personality where the part required this, her Gianetta to Marjorie Eyre's Tessa being particularly good.

She toured America and Canada twice, the second time as a principal. She also recorded six of her roles for H.M.V., including Princess Ida and Aline.

Her recording of Princess Ida in 1932 was in keeping with her superb performances of this most testing part on the stage, and proved to be very successful. There are those who claim that Winifred Lawson's recording of the same part, also for H.M.V., in 1925 was the best of all, but it was also the first, and so perhaps made a greater impact for that reason. At all events Muriel Dickson has the distinction of being the last regular D'Oyly Carte soprano to record this role. True, Victoria Sladen appeared for the Company in 1954, but she was specially imported for three months to sing this part alone.

After leaving D'Oyly Carte in June, 1935, Muriel Dickson further enhanced her reputation by appearing at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, in May 1936, where she proved that her talents were not confined to Gilbert and Sullivan.

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