Opera Scotland

Carmen 1924Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Carmen

The Carl Rosa company was in the habit of coming to Scotland in February and running its tour through the early spring. In early 1924, from 28 January to 19 April they toured Aberdeen, Perth, Greenock, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

On Monday, 4 February, the Aberdeen Press and Journal published its review of the previous evening's performance: 'One remembers performances of Carmen, excellent, bad and indifferent. Last night's performance was none of these as a whole, nor was it ever bad, even in parts, but though at times, especially where principals were concerned, it was excellent, there were here and there, particularly at the beginning, indifferent patches.'

''In Carmen, more than in most operas, the eye must have something to balance, at times almost to counteract, Bizet's music that is no more Spanish than the champagne to which it might be figuratively compared.'

'Carmen, for the most part, is Carmen, and Miss Woodall we know, of old, as a prima donna who has made the part peculiarly her own. In the past, in comparison with other Carmens, we have sometimes thought her Carmen a little cold and calculating. Last night's performance had little or none of that. It was a rendering, in voice and acting, that revealed all the lure and changeful love of the beautiful gipsy.'

'Mr Hughes Macklin played and sang Don José better than other parts in his repertory. He was in splendid voice last night, and not only sang brilliantly, especially at the end, but also got fine effects of expression. Mr Appleton Moore, as Escamillo, made the bull fighter the usual hero in front of the footlights that he is supposed to be behind them. And, of course, the ''Toreador Song'' was encored.'

'Miss Ailne Phillips as premiere danseuse gave some dances that pleased very much. The orchestra, under Mr Hubert Bath,, played nicely, safely, and, here and there, brilliantly.'

To arrive in Dundee on 22 December 1924 was unusual. To stay for a two week season even more so (indeed a unique event in the history of Carl Rosa performances in Dundee). In that era Christmas Day was not a holiday, and the company mounted a performance of Il Trovatore. On New Year's Day, Maritana was on offer. Unusual works being presented were La Traviata, Marriage of Figaro and Fidelio. This fortnight in Dundee was not connected to visits to the other Scottish centres, as they left Dundee after Saturday, 3 January 1925, reappearing in Glasgow on 9 March.

Repertoire for the two Dundee weeks was as follows:

First Week: Mon Carmen, Tue Tannhäuser, Wed Tales of Hoffmann, Thu (Christmas Day) Trovatore, Fri Traviata, Sat Mat Faust, Sat Eve Bohemian Girl.

Second Week: Mon Aïda, Tue Butterfly, Wed Marriage of Figaro, Thu (New Year's Day) Maritana, Fri Fidelio, Sat Mat Samson & Delilah, Sat Eve Faust.

Cast details are compiled from reviews in several Dundee newspapers of Tuesday, 23 December. It is interesting to see Olive Gilbert being promoted to the title role since the spring tour. Doris Woodall was gradually retiring from performance.

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

William Minette (Dec 22)

Micaëla a peasant girl

Eveline Birks (Feb 7; Dec 22)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Horace Vincent (Feb 7)

Ben Williams (Dec 22)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

W Ewart Thomas (Dec 22)

Carmen a gypsy

Doris Woodall (Feb 7)

Olive Gilbert (Dec 22)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Florence Cahill (Feb 7; Dec 22)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Olive Gilbert (Feb 7)

Lillian Phillips (Dec 22)

Escamillo a toreador

Appleton Moore (Feb 7; Dec 22)

Dancaïre a smuggler

Frederick Clendon (Feb 7; Dec 22)

Remendado a smuggler

Parkyn Newton (Dec 22)

Dancer

Ailne Phillips (Feb 7)

Performance DatesCarmen 1924

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

7 Feb, 19.15

Perth Theatre | Perth

13 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

6 Mar, 19.15 18 Mar, 19.15 2 Apr, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

12 Apr, 14.15

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

22 Dec, 19.15

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