Opera Scotland

Mignon 1922Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Mignon

The Carl Rosa's Scottish tour at the beginning of 1922 was an unusually long one with 21 different operas on display. If the seven renderings of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are regarded as fourteen shows, that totals 105 performances (instead of 98) over the fourteen weeks from 16 January to 22 April embracing five venues. It began in the north-east, with one week in Perth, two in Aberdeen and one in Dundee. There followed an eight week stay in Glasgow, almost a northern headquarters for the company, and two final weeks in Edinburgh.

The most frequently performed operas in the season were Samson and Delilah (11), Carmen (9) and Madam Butterfly (9). Four works received only a single outing - The Valkyrie (in Aberdeen) and Lily of KillarneyBohème and Tosca in Glasgow.

The first week commencing Monday, 16 January, in Perth's delightfully intimate Edwardian auditorium, ran in this order: Mon Carmen; Tue Tales of Hoffmann, Wed Maritana, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Cav & Pag, Sat mat Madam Butterfly, Sat eve Il Trovatore.

In Aberdeen there were changes. Cav & Pag were dropped briefly, but the expanded repertoire saw the introduction of Bohemian GirlFaust and Mignon, as well as some larger-scale works by Verdi (Aïda) and Wagner (Tannhäuser, LohengrinValkyrie).

Dundee had not been visited since 1919 when Her Majesty's became a cinema, but the King's was now available, at least until 1928, when it, too, was acquired by a cinema company. The schedule for the week in Dundee was a fairly standard digest of the existing repertoire - Mon Faust, Tue Carmen, Wed Cav & Pag, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Tannhäuser, Sat Mat Madam Butterfly, and Sat Eve Trovatore.

With eight weeks to fill, it was inevitable that as well as nearly all of the above, a number of works would appear that were not seen elsewhere. These included Lily of Killarney, RigolettoMastersingersBohème and Tosca.

 

Cast details and comment for the opening performance on 26 January are as reviewed in the Aberdeen Press and Journal of Friday, 27 January.

The Aberdeen critic clearly has some doubts about the work, though presumably means Gounod's rather than Goethe's in this first sentence - 'Thomas's Mignon, like Goethe's Faust, builds upon the foundation of a mutilated masterpiece. The narrative of Goethe describes the curse resting upon a family for a deed of horror done, the father wandering from place to place pursued by the furies, the daughter stolen from her home and yearning for the country which she is never to see again - a striking theme, and one which might have inspired an Odyssey. Thomas's librettists, in conformity with French taste of the mid Nineteenth Century, invented an imaginary love story, labelled the characters after Goethe, and attached a happy ending quite in the approved style of the Bohemian Girl, with a homecoming and wedding bells.'

However he does seem to appreciate the actual piece on its own terms: 'The score literally scintillates with melody. One old favourite follows another. It is the kind of opera beloved of singers. The parts are grateful, equally from the melodic and from the technical standpoint, while the ensembles are charmingly written and are skilfully differentiated. It is little wonder that Mignon has outlived music of more sterling worth.'

He also approves the presentation, beginning with the orchestra: 'It was noteworthy that in no department was weakness apparent. From horn to harp each player was proved master of his or her instrument. The obbligato parts for violin and 'cello deserve special mention for their exquisite modulation to the tones of the singer, but all was praiseworthy.'

To the singers: 'Interest attached to the first appearance of Miss Maude Neilson in the exceedingly exacting part of Filina........Her flexibility and fluency are equal to the high demands of the roulades and bravura passages, and she attacks her notes up to F in Alt with effortless production.'

'Miss Gladys Parr threw herself into the part of Mignon, which marked a crescendo upon any previous work which she has given. Her singing of ''Know'st Thou that Land'' exerted a vivid appeal, and her velvety tone was particularly useful in the ensembles. She made an exceedingly animated heroine.'

'Mr John Perry played the romantic lover to perfection with each of his partners. His expressive and cultivated style is always a pleasure. It is significant of his art that when he is not in action, he remains responsive to what is going on around him, and takes his relative place in the picture.'

'Mr Harry Brindle's breadth of singing received full scope in the difficult part of Lothario. Strength and sympathy were the attributes which he imparted to the character. The harp duet with Miss Gladys Parr deserved special mention for the fine blending of the voices.'

Performance Cast

Mignon stolen in childhood

Gladys Parr

Philine an actress

Maude Neilson

Frédéric a young nobleman

Gladys Parker

Wilhelm Meister a student

John Perry

Laërte an actor

Frederick Clendon

Lothario a wandering minstrel

Harry Brindle

Performance DatesMignon 1922

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

26 Jan, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

21 Feb, 19.15 10 Mar, 19.15 23 Mar, 19.15 3 Apr, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

15 Apr, 14.15

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