Opera Scotland

Samson and Delilah 1922Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Samson et Dalila

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 KillarneyBohème 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 Il Trovatore.

In Aberdeen there were changes. Cav & Pag were dropped briefly, but the expanded repertoire saw the introduction of Bohemian GirlFaust and Mignon, as well as some larger-scale works by Verdi (Aïda) and Wagner (Tannhäuser, LohengrinValkyrie).

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, RigolettoMastersingersBohème and Tosca.

 

Cast details for Thursday, 9 February, are from the following morning's Dundee Advertiser.

The Dundee Evening Telegraph later the same day is very enthusiastic:

'It seems strange to us in these days that Saint-Saëns' opera should have been barred from the British stage for many years. Certainly it deals with a Biblical subject, but it is treated with perfect reverence and dignity. Further, the Samson story is believed by many scholars to be an allegory relative to the sun myth - the locks of Samson's hair being the rays of the sun and their removal analogous to the desolation consequent upon the loss of sunlight.'

'The production of Saint-Saëns' opera was the best performance of the week so far. The credit of this must be shared by all, but especially Miss Doris Woodall and Mr John Perry in the name parts, and Mr Paul Kochs as conductor deserve first place. There were hardly any of the rough edges that have appeared earlier in the week; it was a finished performance by all, and particularly so on the musical side. Some of the soft chorus singing was delightful, and the playing of the band kept at a high standard of expression.'

'Miss Doris Woodall makes Delilah a very attractive study. She is an operatic artiste who can act as well as sing, and the languorous allurements of Delilah were as finely portrayed as her more passionate and sensuous characteristics. Last night she was in splendid voice, and, while she rendered the favourite numbers......with great vocal art, she did not give them as set arias, but fused them into the stage action, giving them true value as part of the opera proper.'

'Mr John Perry, in spite of affected vocal chords, sang splendidly. He made Samson a heroic figure, and revealed his struggle to escape the snare of the Philistine woman with very marked success.  His voice is rich in timbre, and he is a master of the operatic sweep. Time and again his soft quality was used with rare sweetness. In the great duet in the second act Miss Woodall and Mr Perry touched a high plane of passionate acting and singing.'

For the final performance of the Scottish tour, a Saturday matinee in Edinburgh, the Scotsman of Monday 24 April reported:-

'Save that Mr Booth Hitchen replaced Mr Kingsley Lark as the High Priest and Mr Randall Stevens Mr Frederick Clendon as Abimelech, the cast of Samson and Delilah, which was given in the afternoon, was identical with that of its previous performance, with Miss Doris Woodall and Mr John Perry in the principal roles. Mr Paul Kochs conducted.'

Performance Cast

Samson

John Perry (Feb 9; Apr 10, 22m)

Abimelech Satrap of Gaza

Frederick Clendon (Feb 9; Apr 10)

Randall Stevens (Apr 22m)

High Priest of Dagon

Booth Hitchen (Feb 9; Apr 24m)

Kingsley Lark (Apr 10)

Hebrew Elder

Harry Brindle (Feb 9)

Dalila a Philistine priestess

Doris Woodall (Feb 9; Apr 10, 24m)

Performance DatesSamson and Delilah 1922

Map List

Perth Theatre | Perth

19 Jan, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

23 Jan, 19.15 4 Feb, 14.15

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

9 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

16 Feb, 19.15 27 Feb, 19.15 15 Mar, 19.15 22 Mar, 19.15 8 Apr, 14.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

10 Apr, 19.15 22 Apr, 14.15

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