Opera Scotland

Valkyrie 1922Carl Rosa Opera Company

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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.

 

Not only was this the first time The Valkyrie had been performed in Aberdeen, but it was the only performance during this lengthy Scottish tour of any of the components of the Ring. The logistics of all this, particularly rehearsing an orchestra for such an enterprise must have been nightmarish. It was given on the Friday evening, so the local players will have had at least some opportunity to look at the score with the touring principals earlier in the week while performing more familiar repertoire.

Cast details and comments are as reviewed in the Aberdeen Press and Journal of Saturday, 28 January. As with the Dundee newspapers of the time, the writer is clearly a well-travelled and erudite individual.

'The experiment of presenting to a northern audience the latest work of Wagner is a risky one, but it justified itself by results. Not only was the house sold out, but, what was more important from the musical point of view, the audience had the opportunity of listening to a performance deserving of exceedingly high praise. To be able to bring to the provinces an orchestra up to the standard demanded by Wagner's trilogy and a sufficiency of singers qualified to fill the exceedingly difficult roles, is, indeed, an achievement of which any company might well be proud.'

'Of the performance yesterday evening it is my considered opinion that the standard reached would compare favourably in many respects with performances which I have witnessed in large Continental opera houses. The company was handicapped in certain respects. There was not available the volume of string tone in the 'cello and bass section of the orchestra to balance the brass. There was an absence of certain stage accessories.........The success lay not in the performance of one or two star singers, but in the exceedingly happy casting of each character, the evident attention to detail which marked the representation, and the admirable orchestral playing.'

'The quality of voices was singularly suited to the parts. Miss Eva Turner, clear, penetrating, and commanding, made a fine exponent of Brünnhilde, and was quite sufficient of herself to come through the immense volume of brass tone with which she has to contend in the second and third acts. In the character's cry her voice came out strong and durable, sharply clear and in perfect tune. The effect of intensity achieved by her and by  Mr Kingsley Lark as Wotan placed these acts upon a high level of dramatic power..........His full resonant voice rang out with authority. Specially impressive was his annunciation of the sentence upon Brünnhilde, and yet at the conclusion he infused his part with that quality of large sympathy which is the true note for the part.'

'Miss Doris Woodall made an effective Fricka, powerful and imperious, yet always controlled in her tone. It is sufficient to say that she fully maintained the high standard set by Miss Eva Turner and Mr Kingsley Lark, though at times there was too pronounced a striving after termagancy.........The Valkyries sang the difficult music allotted with energy and effectiveness. Special mention should be made of the posing and direction of their movements at the opening of the third act, which had evidently been worked out with care and thought and artistic intelligence.'

'It would certainly be difficult to find a more attractive Sieglinde than Miss Gladys Cranston. Her stage presence, the charm and grace of her movements, and her warm, sympathetic voice make her an ideal Sieglinde, and she gave the impression that she will be capable of even higher things when her voice has gained its full power. One of the most histrionic difficult tasks in the first act is to do nothing gracefully while the orchestra is playing descriptive music. The pauses are frequent, yet Miss Cranston never appeared awkward or at a loss.'

'Mr William Boland made a big Siegmund, and gave to the part that elemental touch which it is so important to suggest. His massive voice and his personality vitalised the part and gave it the necessary measure of robustness without in any way distracting from the romance of the part. Mr Harry Brindle, while vocally well suited, hardly portrayed with sufficient vocal menace the sombre, churlish character of Hunding.'

'The orchestral part gave evidence of no less careful rehearsal. The very exacting and rapid passages which are allotted to the strings were played as by one instrument.......It was a fine reading not only in the choice of tempos, but in sympathy and rhythmical elasticity, and Mr Henriques de la Fuente well merited the exceptional ovation which he received both from orchestra and listeners.'

Performance Cast

Siegmund a Volsung

William Boland

Sieglinde a Volsung, sister of Siegmund

Gladys Cranston

Hunding husband of Sieglinde

Harry Brindle

Wotan father of the Valkyries and Volsungs

Kingsley Lark

Brünnhilde a Valkyrie

Eva Turner

Fricka Wotan's estranged wife

Doris Woodall

Performance DatesValkyrie 1922

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

27 Jan, 19.00

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