Opera Scotland

Cenerentola 1892Georgina Burns Light Opera

Read more about the opera Cenerentola

Georgina Burns and her husband, the baritone Leslie Crotty, spent several seasons as leading artists touring with the Carl Rosa company. They at last decided to set up on their own, and to minimise competition with the older company they selected a work for performance which had never featured in the Carl Rosa repertoire, and had not appeared on tour since the demise of Henry Corri's English Opera Company in 1870.

According to Sir Henry Wood’s memoirs A Life in Music (1938), he was appointed as first musical director of the company, and Mr Crotty commissioned him to prepare a performing edition of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, for which the basis was the English version provided by T W Robertson for Corri (Robertson, a notable dramatist, having died young in 1871). This work involved the interpolation of music, particularly for the chorus, from other Rossini operas, and, it seems, the introduction of spurious characters, presumably to increase the parallels with the pantomime plot already familiar to British audiences. Robertson had adapted the old translation from the 1830 Covent Garden performance. This had reintroduced the familiar (and more fantastical) fairy godmother, glass slippers, mice and pumpkins so foreign to Rossini's more rational concept.

Wood relates how he was offered a more promising engagement in London (this included the British premiere of Eugene Onegin), and how Crotty agreed to release him from his contract on condition that he found a satisfactory successor and returned every Sunday to rehearse the company with its new conductor.  By the time the company returned to Dundee in March 1893, Eugene Goossens II was conducting.

Wood’s changes may have been minor, but the edition he inherited, as adapted first by Rophino Lacy and later by Tom Robertson, was a highly corrupt text, with a series of radical changes intended to incorporate a traditional 'panto' format. Their version involved writing new scenes, adding a “Fairy Queen” to supplement Alidoro, giving Don Magnifico a comic servant, Pedro, and inserting a ballet into the second act.  Since Georgina Burns was a coloratura soprano, the music for the title role must also have been transposed up from its contralto pitch. Perhaps by 1938 he had recognised that the original opera, recently given a successful revival at Covent Garden with Conchita Supervia, was quite viable as it stood.

The inserted role of the fairy godmother was taken by Adelaide Mullen and Pedro by Mr M R Morand. The Principal Dancer was Rosina Lupino, a member of a famous dynasty of variety artistes. Of the other singers, Alice Barth was a well known light soprano of short stature. Alice Barnett was a physically impressive contralto, whose enduring fame comes from her feat a decade earlier in creating the classic Gilbert and Sullivan roles of Ruth in Pirates of Penzance (in New York), Lady Jane in Patience and Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe.

The production standards were high, with lavishly designed costumes in Louis XV style. The company did not tour its own sets, but reverted to the old touring tradition whereby the stage setting was provided by the local theatre. Most of the important theatres by this time had their own stocks of appropriate backcloths and props, particularly if they mounted their own pantomime productions, as happened with all the Scottish theatres.

Performance Cast

Clorinda daughter of Don Magnifico

Alice Barth

Tisbe Clorinda's sister

Alice Barnett

Angelina known as Cinderella, Magnifico's stepdaughter

Georgina Burns

Alidoro Ramiro's tutor, a philosopher

Spenser Kelly

Don Magnifico Baron of Montefiascone

Charles Durand

Don Ramiro Prince of Salerno

Henry Beaumont

Dandini the Prince's valet

Leslie Crotty

Performance DatesCenerentola 1892

Map List

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

22 Aug, 19.30 23 Aug, 19.30 24 Aug, 19.30 25 Aug, 19.30 26 Aug, 19.30 27 Aug, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

29 Aug, 19.30 30 Aug, 19.30 31 Aug, 19.30 1 Sep, 19.30 2 Sep, 19.30 3 Sep, 19.30

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