Opera Scotland

Romeo and Juliet 1891Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Roméo et Juliette

The second most popular opera by Gounod (after Faust) was taken into the Carl Rosa repertoire at Liverpool on 15 January 1890, and remained a staple for several seasons. The role of Juliet, for lyric soprano, should suit a singer also performing Marie in La fille du Régiment, as Zélie de Lussan did earlier in the week. Normally, a singer of that style would be expected to sing Micaëla rather than Carmen in Bizet's opera. It always seems surprising that Zélie de Lussan had such success as Carmen, which is, nowadays, usually performed by a very different style of voice. The Romanian tenor Ion Dumitresco spent the period 1890-92 in Britain, singing at Covent Garden and with Carl Rosa. The rest of his career was spent largely in Italy, the USA and South America. He was regarded with particular favour in Russia.

 The reviewer in the Glasgow Herald (12 November) said "Further acquaintance with Gounod's Romeo and Juliet only serves to confirm first impressions. The work is far inferior to Faust, and though we can scarcely say that Gounod has virtually composed but one opera, something very like this assertion may be made.  The author of Faust, Romeo, Philemon et Baucis. Mireille and Le Medecin Malgre Lui seldom fails, even in his least successful works, to give us many an inspired passage, but in operatic music at least an insurmountable distance divides Faust from all its companions.  The best that can be said of Romeo and Juliet is that it contains in the balcony scene act at least one number worthy of forming a pendant to the garden scene of Faust.  Elsewhere the linked sweetness is so long drawn out as to become tiresome long before the end is reached.  Romeo, in other words, lacks those vivifying patches of melodic colour which relieve the musical canvas of Faust; its prevalent greyness of tint is but little redeemed from dullness by the infrequent occcurences of new melodic inventions, even the best tunes being mainly faint reminiscences of the composer's older inspirations.... A high level of excellence was reached and maintained in last night's performance. In one respect it was more satisfactory than the Carl Rosa interpretations usually are, for it happens from the peculiar character of Gounod's orchestration, in which  the wind instruments have a predominanting part in the general effect, that the weakness of the Carl Rosa band in strings did not so frequently court observation as is usually the case,  Mdlle de Lussan's Juliet largely fulfils one's ideal of the fair daughter of the Capulets in its personal aspects, and the gifted young actress acts very charmingly in all but the tragic scenes of the play.  In these, and especially in the most exacting scenes situations, she falls far short of the mark.  Mdlle de Lussan's singing, however, was always artistic, effective and delightful.  in the tragic culmination of the opera it was Mr Dimitresco who carried off the honours of the performance.  He here achieved marked success, both as actor and singer,but he was also excellent inthe earlier scenes of the opera, although his voice was not at first in perfect condition. The vernal charm of the young Roumanian's charm is undeniable.  Last year we found occasion to warn him against the ultimate effects of a throaty production, but apparently, like Campanini, he cannot overcome this defect.  The strain imposed upon his organ last night was very great, but, curious to observe, his tone actually improved in quality of timbre and in resonance as the evening wore on.  It is sincerely to be hoped that he will be equal to his heavy duties tonight in the heroic part of Raoul.  A promisong debut was made by Mr Bowman Ralston in the role of Friar Lawrence.  Mr Ralston's resonant and musical bass voice very quickly impressed the audience, and as his artistic method seems to be sound, we look forward to his rendering tonight of Marcel's music with pleasant anticipations of an effective performance.  Mr Alec Marsh acted with his customary vivacity and dramatic point as Mercutio, and although he did not make much of the somewhat manque setting of the Queen Mab scherzo, his voice sounded effectively in other passages.  Mr Max Eugene, as Capulet; Mr Rhys Thomas, as Tybalt; and Mr F. Somers, as Paris, gave a satisfactory account of their parts, and the chorus and band were efficient under the skilful guidance of Mr Goossens." 

The cast is as advertised in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Performance DatesRomeo and Juliet 1891

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

11 Nov, 19.30

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

26 Nov, 19.30

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