Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1924Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

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

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 TraviataMarriage 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.

Tannhäuser had long beenl the most popular of Wagner's operas in Britain, but had only received two performances during the spring tour. It was performed on the second evening of this short Christmas visit, following the opening night Carmen. It was reviewed by the Dundee Courier and Argus:

'Of course, Wagner's opera with its thrilling conflict musically and dramatically between vice and virtue is on a much higher ethical level than Carmen, which makes no attempt to teach a moral lesson at all. Tannhäuser, on the other hand, tells of the penalties of sin and how repentance brings forgiveness. No more glorious doctrine can be taught.'

'The performance was notable for the reappearance here with the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company of Madame Beatrice Miranda, in whom we in Dundee have a special interest on account of that excellent local musician, the late Mr S C Hirst, who was her uncle. Madame Miranda has appeared here before as Elizabeth, but not, we venture to say, with such magnificent power and domination as she did last night. Her entrance was dramatically telling, and she gave Elizabeth's glorious ''Greeting to the Hall of Song'' with superb vigour and dignity. Her voice told most effectively against the male voices in the scene near the end of the Second Act, and Madame Miranda's treatment of ''Elizabeth's Prayer'' was instinct with devotional tenderness. Her whole performance was of outstanding and memorable brilliance.'

'Mr Ben Williams was at his best as Tannhäuser. Wagner's strenuous music suits his robust voice and style. In the first scene with Venus he sang with much fervour, and his daring song in ''The Hall of Song'' was given with commanding power of declamation. The great ''Narration,'' one of Wagner's most exquisite bits of musical painting, was sung in most graphic and effective fashion.'

'Mr Flintoff Moore looked the part of the gentle noble Wolfram to perfection. His treatment of the scene with Tannhäuser in the last act was particularly fine.'

'The chorus was at its best in the famous ''Hail, bright abode'' number, and the band did excellent work under the careful and vigorous direction of Mr Charles Webber. The overture was a good deal marred by the entrance of latecomers. Surely the doors should be kept closed during the playing of such an important musical composition.'

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.

Performance Cast

Venus

Doris Scargill (Dec 23)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

Ben Williams (Dec 23)

Shepherd boy

Florence Cahill (Dec 23)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

Flintoff Moore (Dec 23)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

John Kelly (Dec 23)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

Frederick Clendon (Dec 23)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Beatrice Miranda (Dec 23)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1924

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Mar, 14.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

19 Apr, 14.15

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

23 Dec, 19.15

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