Opera Scotland

Hansel and Gretel 1895Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel was one of those many operas first brought to the UK by the Carl Rosa Opera Company. 

After the opening performance in Glasgow, the first in Scotland,  the critic of the Glasgow Herald (25 April) wrote at length about it.  "It is not often safe to prophecy for a Carl Rosa novelty a permanent place in the repertoire of the company.  But Hansel and Gretel is bound to live in the affections of lovers of all the true and good in music, and one could wish opera-goers no better fortune than that it should become a stock piece, as remunerative as Tannhäuser and as  inevitable as the Bohemian Girl.  The overture of this opera, which gave Humperdinck fame beyond the borders of the Fatherland, was made pretty familiar to us last winter by Mr Henschel.

"One could not imagine a more perfect setting of a fairy tale.   The children are real, live children.   They do not seem to be acting.  They play and quarrel, yield to momentary caprice, and gorge themselves on sweets.   And when they sing, they are as far from being non-natural as it is possible to be in opera."

"The opera is strongly cast.  Miss Minnie Hunt's Gretel was perfect.  She played the part with charming  naivete, and her fresh, pretty voice exactly fitted the music.  But for imperfect articulation, Miss Marie Linck's Hansel was as good.   Together they contributed the largest share of the success of the production.  Miss Meisslinger was an admirable Witch, her acting and singing were both unexceptionable.   Mr Homer Lind's Peter (the father) was as good as his Isaac in Ivanhoe.   He is a clever actor, and uses a good voice with skill.   Madam Barth, Miss Eleanor Harwood and Miss Lily Heenan filled the other parts.   The conductor's task is no sinecure in an opera of this kind, and Herr Leo Feld deserves great credit for the whole performance."

The Scotsman (9 May) reported on the Lyceum performance, which 'was last night crowded in every part... the enthusiasm of the audience was maintained at a high pitch to the end.'

Later that day, the Edinburgh Evening News (p2) was also enthusiastic. 'To this simple story has been wedded a wealth of melody not at all times congruous to the subject,  but never descending beneath it.  The orchestration is full,  rich,  and varied;  there is not a dull musical moment from the uprising of the curtain to its fall.'........'The opera is well staged and should have a run of popularity, fleeting though it may be.'

 

The Company spent four weeks in Scotland in April and May (one week in Glasgow, one in Aberdeen and two in Edinburgh), during which they presented the opera nine times.  This was within six months of its first performance in London, and under eighteen months since the Weimar premiere - this guaranteed audience pleaser was a popular success right from the start.  Three times it was paired with Pagliacci (April 24, May 8 and May 17) and five times with Mozart's Bastien and Bastienne (Apr 26, May 1, May 4, May 11 and May 14).  Once it was given on its own (Apr 25) - a matinee when children would have found one work sufficient as a day's entertainment.

When the opera was revived that autumn, the new coupling seems perhaps more appropriate - Mendelssohn's youthful one-act comedy Son and Stranger, an unjustly neglected piece.

The casts shown below are for the Glasgow opening in April and for the Edinburgh performance in November (programme in NLS).  A programme for 9 November is preserved in the Mitchell Library.   Reviews for 8 May in Edinburgh provide a complete cast, but for the conductor.

Carl Rosa Opera’s spring tour consisted of a week in Glasgow, a week in Aberdeen and then two weeks in Edinburgh.  Over the four week period, the company gave 36 performances of eleven operas as follows:-

Royalty Theatre, Glasgow.  w/c 22 April Mon Tannhauser; Tue Ivanhoe; Wed Hansel and Gretel & Pagliacci; Thu m Hansel and Gretel; Thu evg Ivanhoe; Fri Hansel and Gretel & Bastien and Bastienne; Sat m Ivanhoe; Sat evg Bohemian Girl.

Her Majesty’s, Aberdeen.  w/c 29 April Mon Tannhauser, Tue Faust; Wed Bastien and Bastienne & Hansel and Gretel; Thu Carmen; Fri Ivanhoe; Sat m Bastien and Bastienne & Hansel and Gretel; Sat evg Lohengrin.

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh w/c 6 May Mon Tannhauser; Tue Jeanie Deans; Wed Pagliacci & Hansel and Gretel; Thu Carmen; Fri Ivanhoe; Sat m Bastien and Bastienne & Hansel and Gretel; evg Bohemian Girl.

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh w/c Mon 13 May Lohengrin; Tue Bastien and Bastienne & Hansel and Gretel; Wed Tannhauser; Thu Ivanhoe; Fri Pagliacci & Hansel and Gretel; Sat e Trovatore.

Carl Rosa Opera returned in November 1893 for two weeks in Glasgow. 

Performance Cast

Hansel

Marie Linck (Apr 24; May 8)

Frances Graham (Nov 9, 20)

Gretel

Minnie Hunt

Gertrude mother of Hansel and Gretel

Alice Barth

Peter a broom maker and father of Hansel and Gretel

Homer Lind

Sandman

Eleanor Harwood

Dew Fairy

Lily Heenan (Apr 24; May 8)

Lillie Williams (Nov 20)

Witch

Luise Meisslinger (24 Apr, 8 May)

Julia Lennox (Nov 9, 20)

Production Cast

Conductor

Leo Feld (Apr 24)

Richard Eckhold (Nov 9m)

Translator

Constance Bache

Performance DatesHansel and Gretel 1895

Map List

Royalty, Glasgow | Glasgow

24 Apr, 19.30 25 Apr, 14.00 26 Apr, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

1 May, 19.30 4 May, 14.00

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

8 May, 19.30 11 May, 14.00 14 May, 19.30 17 May, 14.00

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

5 Nov, 19.30 9 Nov, 14.00

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