Opera Scotland

Cavalleria Rusticana 1910Castellano Grand Italian Opera

Read more about the opera Cavalleria Rusticana

The Cav & Pag double-bill was by now a part of the staple diet of opera-goers the world over, and, while Castellano does not seem to have performed Puccini - perhaps difficulty in acquiring the rights? - Mascagni and Leoncavallo offered no such problem.

The cast is from a programme in Aberdeen Central Library. The reviews in the Dundee Advertiser and Courier & Argus both specify the different Alfio, but neither mentions Lucia. Vail sang both Alfio and Tonio in Aberdeen, but only the latter role in Dundee.

 

Dundee Reviews

Dundee Advertiser:  Thursday, October 27, 1910   (p3)

Italian Opera - Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci

'At length Dundee has awakened to the merits of the actor-singers of the Castellano Company.  This was to be expected, for they only require to be heard to be appreciated.  A sufficient proof of this statement is to be found in the fact that many who were present on Monday have also witnessed the Tuesday and Wednesday representations.  Last night there was a very large house, the dress circle and stalls being particularly well filled.

'Without going so far as to say that the performances were the best that have yet been given, there is no doubt that they reached a very high level of excellence.  It is hard to say whether the acting of the principals or their singing was the more deserving of approbation, each was so excellently done.  Never has opera been rendered here in a more “live” manner.  It seems impossible that the feigned can more nearly approach the real.  The players seemed to revel in these rather “bluggy” stories which (let us hope) misrepresent their native South.

'We place Signora Defral as first of the artists on both counts of singing and acting.  Her voice to other qualities adds that greatest of charms - the charm of freshness.  If neither Cavalleria nor Pagliacci offers lyrical opportunities to the soprano so profusely as does Il Trovatore, there is compensation in frequent passages of a dramatic nature.  It is difficult to imagine anything in its way more perfectly done than was Signora Defral’s part of the moving opening scene between Santuzza and Turiddu.  Scorn, regret, jealousy, love, and hate have in turn to be expressed, and each mood was fitted with its characteristic action and tone.  As Nedda in Pagliacci, the clever actress gave a very attractive portrait of the giddy Columbine whose flirtations have such sad results.  Here some of her music has a lyric touch, which she delicately and beautifully emphasised.

'Signor Barbato of the big voice was the Turiddu and the Canio.  The magnificent upper range of his voice was as effective as on Monday.  At the close of the first act of Pagliacci, when the curtain had fallen just after the singing of “Vesti la giubba,” so enthusiastic was the applause that, after a triple recall, the curtain was once more raised and Signor Barbato repeated the number.  In our fairly lengthy operatic experience this occurrence is unique.  But this is not the only new and exhilarating thing observed this week.

'The part of Tonio was taken by Signor Vail, who has been singing every night, and with great acceptance.  His fine baritone made its usual impression, the popular “Prologue” going well.  Signor Barterra as Arlecchino sang the pretty Serenade “off” with much beauty of voice and style.  Signor Catini was a competent Alfio, and Signora Rocco’s Lola - a thankless part - was appropriately unpleasant.

'We cannot praise the chorus as we would like.  Though a fine climax was attained in the “Easter Hymn” in Cavalleria, and the chorus with imitative bell effect in Pagliacci was fairly rendered, there is a crudeness in the general tone that might with advantage be improved out of existence.

'Mascagni and Leoncavallo keep the orchestra well employed.  Under the careful baton of Signor Wehils a good account was given of both scores.  The Intermezzo - very finely phrased - was encored, as usual.'

 

Dundee Courier & Argus:  Thursday, October 27, 1910  (p5)

Italian Opera in Dundee - Cavalleria and Pagliacci

'The two best known examples of the modern Italian operatic school, Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci attracted to Her Majesty’s Theatre last night the best audience of the week.

'The dress circle was again conspicuously well filled; it was in the cheaper parts of the house that there was most room to spare.  This suggests that the public are afraid that they will not be able to follow the works with interest and appreciation, because they are sung in Italian.  This is not so, the slightest study of the plot will enable anyone to follow it; and it must be remembered that feeling and emotion - the be-all and end-all of Italian opera - can be expressed by other means than words, for instance, by music, by gesture, by facial changes, and by action.

'It is interesting to recall the fact that the Castellano Company produced last year at the Coronet Theatre, London, a new version of Cavalleria Rusticana, but the fact that Mascagni’s is still played proves that it is the better, or at least the more generally popular of the two settings.

'Both Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci are the masterpieces of their respective composers; in fact neither Mascagni nor Leoncavallo has done anything else nearly as good.  Both are full-blooded, as befits the stories, and both are sometimes charged with want of refinement.  But both depict phases of life which are very human, and more common than might be imagined.

'In the two modern operas the Castellano Company were thoroughly and perfectly at home.  The atmosphere seemed familiar, the costumes were worn with the freedom of familiarity, and the action, at least of the chorus, was more spontaneous, more easy, and more natural than on any previous occasion during the week.

'We are sorry we cannot say that the singing of the chorus was as satisfactory as the action, but it was not.  It was frequently harsh and strident, the form of the choral music perhaps in the modern operas showing up the vocal deficiencies of the chorus more than the earlier operas did.  The playing of the band, which numbers about thirty, was excellent, the popular Intermezzo, very neatly phrased and sympathetically played, receiving the customary encores.

'For the principals we have nothing but praise, Signora Defral and Signor Barbato towering once more over their clever and talented associates.

'The parts of Santuzza and Nedda, in which Signora Defral appeared, afforded the artiste great chances from a histrionic point of view.  Santuzza is steeped in misery, sorrow, and wretchedness; Nedda, until near the end, is merely a fickle, heartless flirt.  In both parts Signora Defral played with astonishing power and intensity, but she was distinctly at her greatest as Santuzza.  Her first entrance, in her walk and attitude, told the story.  Her singing, too, was triumphantly successful.  Her voice was in splendid order, and rang true from start to finish.  The duets with Turiddu and with Alfio, which immediately precede the Intermezzo, were superbly sung, with the most intense passion and fervour.

'In Pagliacci, Signora Defral sang the exquisite scena which opens the second scene of the first act with bewitching charm, and the delicious duet with Silvio in the next scene was delightfully sung.

'Signor Barbato was even happier as Turiddu and Canio than he was as Manrico.  The music of both parts lay well for his voice, and the passion with which he sang in the great duet with Santuzza could not have been improved upon.  The Drinking Song was sung with great gusto and tellingly phrased; he sang with touching tenderness in his farewell to Lucia, and with telling dignity in the final scene with Alfio.

'In Pagliacci he gave “On with the motley” with glorious power and magic impressiveness, and was encored with tremendous enthusiasm.  In the dramatic close of the opera he both sang and acted grandly.  “The comedy is ended,” with which the opera ends, sounded like a funeral knell.

'Signor Catini made a vigorous Alfio, and sang remarkably well in his first song and in the duet with Santuzza.  Signora Rocco was delightful as Lola, fully realising the archness of the part, and singing her one dainty little song very prettily.

'Signor Vail as Tonio, in Pagliacci, had a grand part.  He declaimed the famous Prologue, which contains so many themes heard later, with admirable effect, and throughout acted with abundant feeling for the dramatic side of the part.  Signor Barterra sang capitally as Arlecchino, notably in the pretty duet with Nedda, and Signor Antonini made a gallant Silvio.  His duet with Nedda was one of the finest bits in the performance.

'No notice would be complete without a reference to the donkey - evidently local - which appeared at the opening of Pagliacci, and, to the huge amusement of the house, displayed customary stubbornness.  It evidently prefers the Dundee streets to the stage.

'To-night Carmen will be given, with Mdme Goretta Castellano as Carmen, Signor Barbato as Don Jose, and Signor Vail as Escamillo.  We hope that the excellence of the performances are so well known that “House full” will be the state of matter during the rest of the engagement.'

Performance Cast

Santuzza a village girl

Signora Defral (Oct 19, 26)

Mamma Lucia the innkeeper, Turiddu’s mother

Signora Surdicosca (Oct 19)

Alfio the village carter

Signor Vail (Oct 19)

Signor Catini (Oct 26)

Turiddu a young soldier

Signor Barbato (Oct 19, 26)

Lola Alfio’s wife

Signora Rocco (Oct 19, 26)

Performance DatesCavalleria Rusticana 1910

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

19 Oct, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

26 Oct, 19.30

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