Opera Scotland

Carmen 1923Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Carmen

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. The number of different operas produced on the tour is astonishing, 22 in all, often only receiving one or two performances each. Carmen, however, was given seven times, three of those in Glasgow.

The Dundee week, commencing 5 February, included: Mon Aïda, Tue Maritana, Wed Lohengrin, Thu Carmen, Fri Hoffmann, Sat mat Faust, Sat eve Bo 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 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. 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.

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 continue to sing her major roles, though, as with this Carmen, cut down the frequency of performance. She claimed to have sung the part nearly twice a week during her career, giving over a thousand performances, so it cannot have been a hardship to pass the role on to her younger colleague, Gladys Parr.

The only complete cast we have is compiled from several reviews of the first performance (Thursday, 8 February) in Dundee. There are brief details of two Glasgow evenings - Thursday, 22 February from the Glasgow Herald and Saturday 10 March from The Scotsman. Company information is from the cover of a Glasgow programme w/c 5 March (in the collection of the V & A, London).

The Herald emphasised the continuing popularity of the work, with an excellent turnout:- ''They were rewarded with an excellent performance; on the whole probably as good as this organisation have ever achieved. Certainly they have never in Carmen touched a higher artistic standard than was reached in the third act on this occasion - an example of operatic production which was thoroughly satisfying in all essential constituents. It was a very gratifying experience after an opening that caused some apprehensiveness on the part of the audience by reason of the rush and attendant lack of unity among the chorus and between the chorus and orchestra which marked the beginning of the opera. But as it progressed the tempo settled down to an agreeable measure that gave the element of spiritedness without the suggestion of scrambling. Except for these early moments Mr Paul Kochs secured admirable co-operation of his forces.

''The name of Madame Doris Woodall has so long been associated with the part of Carmen that it is unnecessary to say more of her performance last night than that it maintained the distinction which she has given to the presentation of the wilful gipsy; as usual her contribution dominated the entire performance, being vocally good and altogether admirable from the standpoint of acting. Mr John Perry made a pleasant voiced and sufficiently dramatic Don José; Mr Booth Hitchen's Escamillo had its fine points, though the music occasionally lacked the necessary robustness; while a notable appearance was made by Miss Jennie Bleasdale, a newcomer to Glasgow. She has a voice of pleasant tone and substantial volume, joined with artistic method, and the part of Micaëla enabled her to display these qualities most advantageously. The minor characters were capably presented. A word of appreciation is merited by the very adequate staging of the opera, which in several respects showed improvement on some previous productions.''

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.

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Martin Quinn (Feb 8)

Micaëla a peasant girl

Jennie Bleasdale (Feb 8, 22)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Horace Vincent (Feb 8)

John Perry (Feb 22; Mar 10e)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Bernard Ross (Feb 8)

Carmen a gypsy

Doris Woodall (Feb 22; Mar 10e)

Gladys Parr (Feb 8)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Eva Colton (Feb 8)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Ethel Freegarde (Feb 8)

Escamillo a toreador

Appleton Moore (Feb 8; Mar 10e)

Booth Hitchen (Feb 22)

Lillas Pastia an innkeeper

Jack Wright (Feb 8)

Dancaïre a smuggler

Frederick Clendon (Feb 8)

Remendado a smuggler

Parkyn Newton (Feb 8)

Performance DatesCarmen 1923

Map List

Kings Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

8 Feb, 19.15

King's Theatre, Greenock | Greenock

17 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

22 Feb, 19.15 10 Mar, 19.15 23 Mar, 19.15

Perth Theatre | Perth

31 Mar, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

9 Apr, 19.15

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