Opera Scotland

Valkyrie 1896Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Walküre

These were the first performances in Scotland of any part of the Ring. According to reviews, the cast shown appeared at both performances. There is no data for the minor Valkyries.

The Glasgow Herald of Friday, 13 November gave a brief description making clear the advance in style from the early Wagner works that were familiar - Rienzi, The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin. The Valkyrie 'is a big work, and the curtain falls reluctantly and somewhat late, but except as to country cousins, who are at the mercy of trains, the large audience remained till the close.' It 'belongs to Wagner's later period, when the composer, renouncing as it seems his hope of popularity, wrote in obedience to artistic impulse, evolving a new form of the music drama of great brilliancy and complexity, and in which the orchestra is in perfect accord with the sentiment or passion of the stage.'

The Herald's enthusiasm for the performance was almost unqualified. 'Mr Hedmondt and Miss Alice Esty, in the first and second acts, excelled in both phases of passion - in awakening not less than in despairing love. The Spring Song in the first act, perhaps the vocal gem of the opera, was charmingly delivered, while the impassioned scene on which the curtain falls was followed by a highly-flattering and spontaneous recall. Miss Esty was in excellent voice.

'Mr Ludwig has much to do throughout the opera, and needless to say he did not fail either in sympathetic singing or in highly intelligent and dignified acting. His lengthened scena in the second act with Miss Lunn was equally creditable to both artists. Miss Lunn's voice, so beautiful in quality, was most artistically produced, and her acting was marked by force and finish.

'Miss Rita Elandi also acted and sang in true Wagnerian spirit, with fulness of vocal resource and in a large, dramatic manner. In the comparatively small part of Hunding, Mr Winckworth bore himself well. A very definite word of praise is due to Herr Richard Eckhold, conductor. He developed the orchestral score, on which the success of the opera so largely depends, with exceptional skill, sustaining without overpowering the voices, and giving the number so familiar in the concert-room in brilliant style.'

When the company moved to Edinburgh a further single performance of The Valkyrie was given in a packed Lyceum. The Edinburgh Evening News of Thursday, 26 November, while enthusiastic about the music and its performance, introduced a note of criticism, even flippancy, against the composer's literary talents. 'The Nibelungenlied is precisely such a subject as would appeal to the temperament of a man like Wagner. The lust of power, the possession of love, the depth of hate, the triumph of revenge. These are the blatant colours in which he works his canvas.... Brynhilde, the Valkyrie, another of Wotan's numerous offspring (the stage is filled with them) .....To this unnecessarily stupid version of the Nibelungenlied Wagner has written music which only he could write, pregnant with beauty and power, and of the performance last night it is impossible to speak but in terms of the highest commendation. Given by a  travelling company, such a performance must have its limitations; it does not fulfil the possibilities; but it was finer than the reasonable mind could expect. The mise-en-scène was very satisfactory; the orchestra, under Herr Eckhold's direction - and very able direction it proved - fulfilled an arduous task with more than credit, and the vocalists gave an earnest and painstaking interpretation of a difficult work.'

'Mr Hedmondt gave a great rendering of the hero Siegmund; intense, dramatic, vocally adequate, and in the magnificent love duet of the first act he held the house in tension. As Sieglinde, Miss Esty is entitled to no small praise. If she somewhat lacked on the passionate side of the character, she made up by a sweetness of demeanour, which charmed and gave repose in a somewhat turbulent picture. The Brynhilde of Miss Rita Elandi was somewhat fidgetty at first, but in the great scene with Wotan in the third act she both acted and sang with genuine power, and made more impression than she has hitherto done during this engagement.

'Possibly the surprise of the night was the dignified rendering and vocal excellence accorded to the part of Fricka by Miss Kirkby Lunn. This lady bids fair to secure high honours. Mr Ludwig as Wotan secured his success in the third act, where his rendering was full of dignity and pathos; and Mr Winckworth in the part of Hunding used his voice with much success.'

The Scotsman critic was also in generous mood that morning. 'It is no slight credit to the Carl Rosa management that, in face of the difficulties both financial and mechanical which beset the adequate presentation of a work designed on a colossal scale, they have ventured to offer to the musical public the opportunity of hearing The Valkyrie.

'The performance, taken in its entirety, was a distinguished success. The stage difficulties were, on the whole, creditably overcome; the singing was on a high plane; and the orchestra which is of course an all-important element in the conception, did sterling work under the guidance of Mr Eckhold, who deserves the highest credit for the heart-whole enthusiasm which he throws into the interpretation of this and other of Wagner's works.

'Weak points and even hitches there were, but those who had come prepared to make allowances - as, presumably, most had - never felt that the strain upon their mood of indulgence was too great. It was a far finer performance than might reasonably, and in all the circumstances, have been looked for.'

The Scotsman was just as enthusiasic about Messrs Hedmondt, Ludwig and Winckworth, while expanding comment on the ladies. 'Miss Alice Esty followed up her success as Juliet by an almost equally good appearance as Sieglinde. It is one of the merits of Miss Esty that she never falls below her own level, which is high; and upon occasion she can rise above it. In her acting she gave a spirited response to Mr Hedmondt, and her singing, if occasionally wanting in strength, never failed in sweetness and finish of style.

'Miss Elandi has a very heavy part as Brünnhilde, and deserves all credit for the manner in which she sustained the rôle. She has the requisite strength of tone, and the dignity which she threw into her acting made the part a great success.... while Kirkby Lunn, though physically too small to suggest the dignity of the goddess Fricks, delivered her music with unfailing force and feeling.

'It only remains to mention that the short chorus of the Valkyries, with which the third act opens, was finely sung.'

Performance Cast

Siegmund a Volsung

Charles Hedmondt

Sieglinde a Volsung, sister of Siegmund

Alice Esty

Hunding husband of Sieglinde

Arthur Winckworth

Wotan father of the Valkyries and Volsungs

William Ludwig

Brünnhilde a Valkyrie

Rita Elandi

Fricka Wotan's estranged wife

Louise Kirkby Lunn

Performance DatesValkyrie 1896

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

12 Nov, 19.30

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

25 Nov, 19.30

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