Opera Scotland

Carmen 1922Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Carmen

The Carl Rosa's Scottish tour at the beginning of 1922 was an unusually long one with 21 different operas on display. If the seven renderings of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are regarded as fourteen shows, that totals 105 performances (instead of 98) over the fourteen weeks from 16 January to 22 April embracing five venues. It began in the north-east, with one week in Perth, two in Aberdeen and one in Dundee. There followed an eight week stay in Glasgow, almost a northern headquarters for the company, and two final weeks in Edinburgh.

The most frequently performed operas in the season were Samson and Delilah (11), Carmen (9) and Madam Butterfly (9). Four works received only a single outing - The Valkyrie (in Aberdeen) and Lily of Killarney, Bohème and Tosca in Glasgow.

The first week commencing Monday, 16 January, in Perth's delightfully intimate Edwardian auditorium, ran in this order: Mon Carmen; Tue Tales of Hoffmann, Wed Maritana, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Cav & Pag, Sat mat Madam Butterfly, Sat eve Trovatore.

In Aberdeen there were changes. Cav & Pag were dropped briefly, but the expanded repertoire saw the introduction of Bohemian Girl, Faust and Mignon, plus larger-scale works by Verdi (Aïda) and Wagner - Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Valkyrie.

Dundee had not been visited since 1919 when Her Majesty's became a cinema, but the King's was now available, at least until 1928, when it, too, was acquired by a cinema company. The schedule for the week in Dundee was a fairly standard digest of the existing repertoire - Mon Faust, Tue Carmen, Wed Cav & Pag, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Tannhäuser, Sat Mat Madam Butterfly, and Sat Eve Trovatore.

With eight weeks to fill, it was inevitable that as well as nearly all of the above, a number of works would appear that were not seen elsewhere. These included Lily of Killarney, Rigoletto, Mastersingers, Bohème and Tosca.

 

Absolutely comprehensive cast details for 7 February are from a review in the following morning's Dundee Advertiser.

The Dundee Evening Telegraph of Wednesday, 8 February commented at length and with some enthusiasm:

'The moment the orchestra struck up the overture to Carmen last night it was plain that the band playing was to be of high quality. In the past touring companies have been ill-provided with orchestras - once Tannhäuser was played to a band of 13, an ominous number, but the forty or so players at the King's were an excellent body for the Carmen music. The conductor, Mr Paul Kochs, got crispness into the tone and verve into the rhythm from start to finish, and a good deal of the success of the opera was due to the fine orchestral part.'

'Miss Doris Woodall has made a very finished study of Carmen. The gipsy girl is vain, capricious, and more than a bit of a minx; she has a strong vein of audacity in her passionate Southern temperament underneath a gay veneer. All this Miss Woodall realised by her vivid acting, and now and again struck a deep, tragic note. She did nothing finer than her impressive rendering of the Card Song, which was an artistic gem. The Habanera and Seguidille were admirably sung, but it was in the Card Song that she reached the highest plane of musical art. With a voice of rich contralto timbre and a rare control of mezzo-voce quality, she made all the music effective, and her impersonation of the wayward and bewitching heroine was one of the best we have ever seen.'

'The part of the unhappy Don José.....is a difficult one to play. Mr Gwynne Davies succeeded in the part very well. He sang with passion and acted with pathos, the Flower Song being sung with real feeling. Mr Kingsley Lark made a debonair Escamillo, of easy ways and brave mien. He deserved his encore for the Toreador Song - in spite of occasional faulty intonation - for its vigour and dramatic qualities.'

'No opera needs less help in unfolding its plot than Carmen. There seemed more dialogue than there need to br, but it certainly helped to carry along the story, and the occasional relief from the flow of lovely sounds only served to heighten the effect of Bizet's melodious strains.'

The Scotsman of Monday, 20 February, produced a brief note about the performances on the previous Saturday at Glasgow Theatre Royal - a matinee of The Tales of Hoffmann, followed at night by Carmen.

'The Carl Rosa Company concluded the first week of their engagement at the Theatre-Royal, Glasgow, on Saturday with a fine performance of The Tales of Hoffmann in the afternoon and Carmen in the evening. At the matinee performance Mr John Perry and the other principals did justice to their respective parts. The feature of the evening performance was Miss Doris Woodall's splendid representation of Carmen. Her vocal rendering of the part was exceptionally good, as was that of Mr Kingsley Lark in the role of Escamillo. The orchestra and chorus contributed largely to the success of both performances. Mr Charles Webber conducted in the afternoon and Mr Paul Kochs in the evening.'

The Scotsman returned the following month to report on the matinee (Saturday, 18 March) as well as the evening's Trovatore. It seems odd that the note should list not just the Carmen, Escamillo and Micaëla, but also Mercédès and Dancairo, while (as on 18 Feb) omitting Don José.

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Martin Quinn (Feb 7)

Micaëla a peasant girl

Maude Neilson (Feb 7; Mar 18m)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Gwynne Davies (Feb 7)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Tom Rowland (Feb 7)

Carmen a gypsy

Doris Woodall (Feb 7, 18e; Mar 18m)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Gladys Parker (Feb 7; Mar 18m)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Winifred Geverding (Feb 7)

Lillas Pastia an innkeeper

Jack Wright (Feb 7)

Escamillo a toreador

Kingsley Lark (Feb 7, 18e; Mar 18m)

Dancaïre a smuggler

Frederick Clendon (Feb 7; Mar 18m)

Remendado a smuggler

Horace Vincent (Feb 7)

Production Cast

Conductor

Paul Kochs (Feb 7, 18e; Mar 18m)

Stage Director

George Beale

Translator

Henry Hersee

Performance DatesCarmen 1922

Map List

Perth Theatre | Perth

16 Jan, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

30 Jan, 19.15

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

7 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

18 Feb, 19.15 3 Mar, 19.15 18 Mar, 14.15 27 Mar, 19.15 6 Apr, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

12 Apr, 19.15

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