Opera Scotland

Carl Rosa

Carl Rosa Opera

Posted 22 Apr 2011

The Carl Rosa Opera Company is still remembered by many who heard about post war performances from older friends and relatives. Why is this so? Put simply, Carl Rosa himself brought opera in English to the provinces and to Scotland with higher artistic standards than had prevailed previously. In doing so, he developed market demand that persisted for many years - in fact, the brand name has recently been revived and used to promote light opera. This dynamic man was only 32 when he brought his young company to Glasgow in November 1874, performing for two weeks at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The Glasgow Herald critic enthused, explaining Rosa "has organised a company which for general excellence has not previously been heard out of London".

Rosa built the company up before his tragically early death at the age of 47, amongst other things doing much to promote new opera. Those who took over the venture lacked the same financial touch, but the company was revived and by 1900 had given 821 main stage performances in Scottish towns, not to mention numerous concerts. Their annual tours were for many the cultural highlight of the year, and loud were the complaints when they did not appear. But touring opera was always a risky business venture, and the company had a chequered history. By the time the Carl Rosa closed and their singers, orchestral musicians and others had mostly been absorbed by Sadler's Wells in 1958, they had given over 2500 main stage operatic performances in Scotland alone, and made a lasting mark on Scotland's cultural history.

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