Opera Scotland

Aïda 1923Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Aïda

The Royal Carl Rosa's 1923 Scottish tour, ten weeks in total, began with single weeks in Dundee and Greenock. Longer visits to Glasgow and Edinburgh were to follow. In the event, scheduling problems involving clashes with BNOC meant that the central belt visits were shortened by a week each, and Perth and Aberdeen included instead (see press clip below for details). The range of operas performed on the tour is astonishing - 22 in total. Many only received one or two performances, though Aïda has a total of six - two in Glasgow, none in Edinburgh.

The Dundee week, commencing 5 February, included: Mon Aïda, Tue Maritana, Wed Lohengrin, Thu Carmen, Fri Hoffmann, Sat Mat Faust, Sat Eve Bohemian Girl.

The Greenock week, commencing 12 February: Mon Aïda, Tue Mignon, Wed Masked Ball, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Cav & Pag, Sat mat Maritana, Sat eve Carmen.

Glasgow first week, commencing 19 February: Mon Trovatore, Tue Faust, Wed Madam Butterfly, Thu Carmen, Fri Mignon, Sat mat Hoffmann, Sat eve Maritana.

Glasgow second week, commencing 26 February: Mon Cav & Pag, Tue Rigoletto, Wed Tannhäuser, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Figaro, Sat mat Trovatore, Sat eve Bo Girl.

Glasgow third week, commencing 5 March: Mon Aïda, Tue Hoffmann, Wed Masked Ball, Thu Daughter of the Regiment, Fri Mastersingers, Sat mat Faust, Sat eve Carmen.

Glasgow fourth week, commencing 12 March: Mon Samson and Delilah, Tue Butterfly, Wed Figaro, Thu Lohengrin, Fri Aïda, Sat mat Rigoletto, Sat eve Trovatore

Glasgow fifth week, commencing 19 March: Mon Mignon, Tue Cav & Pag, Wed Lily of Killarney, Thu Masked Ball, Fri Carmen, Sat mat Thaïs and Talmaae & Daughter of the Regiment, Sat eve Hoffmann.

Perth, week commencing 26 March: Mon Aïda, Tue Figaro, Wed Tannhäuser, Thu Hoffmann, Fri Masked Ball, Sat mat Faust, Sat eve Carmen.

Aberdeen, week commencing 2 April: Mon Aïda, Tue Mignon, Wed Trovatore, Thu Figaro, Fri Butterfly, Sat mat Hoffmann, Sat eve Daughter of the Regiment.

Edinburgh, week commencing 9 April: Mon Carmen, Tue Masked Ball, Wed Lily of Killarney, Thu Daughter of the Regiment, Fri Mignon, Sat mat Hoffmann, Sat eve Bo Girl. 

The Directors were still billed as Mrs Carl Rosa and Mr Alfred Van Noorden. Herbert Godfrey was Managing Director, H Chiswell Billing the Manager and Paul Kochs and Charles Webber the Conductors.

Since the company's previous visit there had been a significant management change, with the leading dramatic mezzo Doris Woodall being given overall control of artistic direction, perhaps the first time a woman had been given such a role with a European opera company. She would reduce her singing commitments of major roles as a result. Richard Cliffe is described as Stage Manager, with the Ballet trained by Madame Buckstone Clair. Principal Dancer is Winifred Madeline. Mr M Harwood is described as 'Costumier', which seems more likely to be a form of wardrobe supervisor rather than designer.

This cast, for the opening night of the Scottish visit, clearly shows the Carl Rosa fielding its top team, with Eva Turner and Doris Woodall particularly important members of the company.

Cast details are compiled from several reviews of the first performance in Dundee, with company information from the cover of a Glasgow programme w/c 5 March (in the collection of the V & A, London). Gladys Parr is one of the otherwise identical five principals listed in the summary of the week in the Greenock Herald of Saturday, 17 February. The Glasgow Herald gives a highly favourable review to the performance of 5 March, where there was one scheduled cast change, Bernard Ross appearing as the King. However John Perry is described as indisposed, so Ben Williams went on as a quite satisfactory cover.

It is unfortunate that in May, just after the end of this Scottish leg, the company was declared bankrupt, though matters were restored in time for the next Scottish visit which started in Glasgow on 25 February 1924.

Dundee Advertiser: Monday, February 12, 1923

Opera Congestion in Scotland

            An unfortunate clashing of dates has resulted in an alteration of the Scottish touring arrangements of the Carl Rosa Opera Company. The Company is due to arrive at Glasgow on Monday next for a season which had originally been arranged to last six weeks. The British National Opera, however, had arranged to perform in Glasgow at the end of March, and in deference to those opera-goers who wish to see both companies, the Carl Rosa has shortened the visit by one week.  Under this readjustment Perth will benefit, the company having decided to transfer their last week of Glasgow performances to the Theatre Royal there. A similar situation has arisen at Edinburgh, and in this case the company will proceed to Aberdeen on April 2nd, leaving the National Opera in the capital for a fortnight.  In this way, instead of the two cities having an embarrassing abundance of opera from the competition of the two organisations, all the important towns in Scotland will be visited.  I understand that an arrangement has been arrived at with a view to the avoidance of future misfortunes of the same kind, and that henceforth, neither company will visit a town where the other is appearing until a reasonable interval has elapsed.

Performance Cast

Ramfis High Priest

Harry Brindle (Feb 7, 12; Mar 5)

Radamès Captain of the Guard

John Perry (Feb 7, 12)

Ben Williams (Mar 5)

Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt

Doris Woodall (Feb 7; Mar 5)

Gladys Parr (Feb 12)

Aïda an Ethiopian slave

Eva Turner (Feb 7, 12; Mar 5)

King of Egypt

Frederick Clendon (Feb 7, 12)

Bernard Ross (Mar 5)

Messenger

Jack Wright (Feb 7)

Priestess

Maude Neilson (Feb 7)

Amonasro King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda

Booth Hitchen (Feb 7, 12; Mar 5)

Dancer

Winifred Madeline

Performance DatesAïda 1923

Map List

Kings Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

5 Feb, 19.15

King's Theatre, Greenock | Greenock

12 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

5 Mar, 19.15 16 Mar, 19.15

Perth Theatre | Perth

26 Mar, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

2 Apr, 19.15

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