Opera Scotland

Semiramide 1855Mr Wood's Edinburgh Italian Opera

Read more about the opera Semiramide

The first performance, on Monday 19 February 1855, was reviewed in the Caledonian Mercury (Thursday 22 February).   

"... we feel compelled to express our disappointment on this occasion. The piece was put upon the stage on Monday evening, we regret to say, after a fashion by no means likely to enable any one to form a proximate notion of its true merits. The cast was as inefficient as possible.... If we except the Semiramide of Madame Caradori, a most admirable impersonation, not one of the remaining parts was considered as it should have been."

This was part of the second season by the Italian Opera managed by Mr Wood, with many of the same soloists and works that had been seen in Edinburgh and Glasgow from late December 1853 through to March of 1854. This new operatic season lasted for ten weeks, the first six, from 22 January at Edinburgh Theatre Royal. The four Glasgow weeks, from 5 March, were at the Dunlop Street Theatre Royal. Each week saw four performances, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The repertoire, nearly all sung in Italian, embraced Beethoven (Fidelio); Weber (Der Freischütz); Rossini (Semiramide Scottish premiere); Donizetti (Lucrezia BorgiaLucia di Lammermoor); Bellini (NormaI Puritani); Auber (Masaniello) and Meyerbeer (Robert le Diable Scottish premiere, Les Huguenots).  The final performance at each venue consisted of several acts from different operas - the final act of La Favorite, second of Fidelio and final three of Robert le Diable. The busy company also gave Wednesday evening recitals and sent out concert parties to the north, including Dundee and Aberdeen.

The Edinburgh schedule was: Mon 22 Jan Puritani, Tue 23 Lucrezia Borgia, Thu 25 Norma, Fri 26 Fidelio, Mon 29 Lucia, Tue 30 Puritani, Thu 1 Feb Robert le Diable, Fri 2 Freischütz, Mon 5 Robert le Diable, Tue 6 Lucrezia Borgia; Thu 8 Freischütz, Fri 9 Masaniello, Mon 12 Masaniello, Wed 14 Robert le Diable, Thu 15 Semiramide (postponed), Fri 16 Les Huguenots, Mon 19 Semiramide, Tue 20 Les Huguenots, Thu 22 Masaniello, Fri 23 Les Huguenots, Mon 26 Fidelio, Tue 27 Lucrezia Borgia, Thu 1 Mar Masaniello, Fri 2 Scenes.

For Glasgow the programme was: Mon 5 Mar Lucrezia Borgia, Tue 6 Norma, Thu 8 Lucia, Fri 9 Fidelio, Mon 12 I Puritani, Tue 13 Les Huguenots, Thu 15 Masaniello, Fri 16 Der Freischütz, Mon 19 Fidelio, Tue 20 Les Huguenots, Thu 22 Lucrezia Borgia, Fri 23 Fidelio, Mon 26 Les Huguenots, Tue 27 Lucrezia Borgia, Thu 29 I Puritani, Fri 30 Scenes.

The popular favourites were evidently Lucrezia Borgia and Les Huguenots, receiving six performances each. Masaniello, a spectacular work not recently seen in Scotland, had five performances, with FidelioRobert le Diable and I Puritani on four. The generally popular Der Freischütz had three, with Norma and Lucia di Lammermoor, perhaps surprisingly, only two. The unknown Semiramide was scheduled for two but the opening was postponed because of illness, which clearly affected the reception of the first, under-rehearsed, performance. Perhaps this was also the cause for the third Donizetti piece, La Favorite, not being given complete.

Performance Cast

Semiramide Queen of Babylon

Maria Caradori

Arsace commander of the Assyrian armies

Fanny Huddart

Assur an Assyrian prince

Signor Fortini

Oroe high priest of the Magi

Signor Pierini

Production Cast

Stage Manager

Mr J Martin

Performance DatesSemiramide 1855

Map List

Theatre Royal, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

19 Feb, 20.00

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