Opera Scotland

Rigoletto 1922Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Rigoletto

The Carl Rosa's Scottish tour at the beginning of 1922 was an unusually long one with 21 different operas on display.  A programme for the performance of 14 April at the Lyceum can be found, archived in Edinburgh Central Libaray, 

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, 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).  A programme for 14 April is archived in Edinburgh Central Library

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 booked 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.

The Glasgow Herald of 25 February gives a brief description of the previous evening's performance, listing only the conductor and four leading principals. The focus of his attention was the young Scottish soprano:

'Miss Neilson's fresh, flexible voice met the demands of the song ('Caro nome') with a very large measure of success, and the only flaws perceptible in her singing of this and of the other music of the part are of a kind that will be rectified by experience. The perfect finish is yet to attain, but the promise of its accomplishment is already there. The large audience warmly applauded the young singer. Rigoletto, however, dominates the opera, and once more the art of Mr Kingsley Lark shone conspicuously in his personation of the Jester. Vocally as well as dramatically, his performance was sustained on a high level.'

The Scotsman was also at this performance and took a similar view:

The popularity of the older operas, in contrast with the half-hearted reception given to more modern works, was shown again at the Theatre-Royal, Glasgow, last night. Rigoletto, one of Verdi's early successes, attracted an audience which not only thronged the house but gained for the Carl Rosa Opera Company one of its triumphs of the present season. Interest centred in the first appearance as Gilda of Miss Maude Neilson, a young coloratura singer of local birth. Miss Neilson's pure, velvety tones were admirably displayed throughout, and, particularly in ''Caro Nome'' and the famous quartet, her brilliant high notes delighted and charmed on all hands. Congratulations were heaped on the young vocalist, and her artistic success was shared by Mr Kingsley Lark, whose finely dramatic assumption of the infamous jester evoked unstinted admiration. Miss Doris Woodall was a capital Maddalena and the Duke was played by Mr Gerald O'Brien. Mr Paul Kochs conducted with care and discretion.'

The Scotsman of 18 March gave a brief report of the previous evening in Glasgow:

'An excellent repeat performance of Verdi's Rigoletto was given by the Carl Rosa Opera Company last night to a crowded audience at the Theatre-Royal, Glasgow. Miss Doris Woodall, and Messrs Kingsley Lark, Gerald O'Brien, and E Gilding Clarke represented the principal parts in splendid fashion, and their performance was received with much acceptance. Mr Paul Kochs conducted, and the chorus and orchestra at all times maintained a high standard.'

Abbreviated cast details and some comment are for the Edinburgh performance of Friday, 14 April, reviewed in the Scotsman on the Saturday. It is interesting to note how relatively unpopular Rigoletto was, and how completely unknown were such earlier works as Nabucco, Ernani and Macbeth - our knowledge and appreciation of the entire range of Verdi's career is now very different:

'Verdi's Rigoletto is only occasionally heard in Edinburgh, and its performance by the Carl Rosa Company last night was, therefore, all the more welcome. It is the earliest of the Verdi operas of which there is any public knowledge in this country, having been originally produced in 1851, about two years before the familiar Trovatore, but it is marked by that unerring instinct for the dramatic which was to carry the composer to such triumphs in his wonderful old age with Othello and Falstaff.'

'As the jester, Rigoletto, the unscrupulous accomplice of a dissolute master, until retribution overtakes him by that master abducting his daughter, Mr Booth Hitchen, last night making his first appearance in the part, was exceedingly effective. The character is one which demands a really good actor, but Mr Hitchen gave an excellent idea of its blending of the cynical and tender. Mr John Perry, as the light-hearted Duke, who emerges unscathed from the plot for his destruction hatched by his outraged jester, sang the gay music of the part brilliantly, and the Gilda, Rigoletto's daughter, of Miss Maude Neilson was also good. Miss Gladys Parr as Maddalena, Mr E Gilding Clark as her brother Sparafucile, the bravo, and Mr Randall Stevens as Count Monterone, were in excellent keeping with the other principals, and the various ensemble movements, particularly the great quartet in the last act, were admirably rendered.'

Performance Cast

Count Ceprano a courtier

Oliver Allwood (14 April)

Countess Ceprano

Bessie Nichols (14 April)

Count Monterone

Randall Stevens (14 Apr)

Duke of Mantua

Gerald O'Brien (24 Feb; 17 Mar)

John Perry (14 Apr)

Gilda Rigoletto's daughter

Maude Neilson (24 Feb; 14 Apr)

Giovanna Gilda's duenna

Eva Colton (14 Apr)

Marullo a courtier

Tom Rowland (14 April)

Maddalena sister of Sparafucile

Doris Woodall (24 Feb; 17 Mar)

Gladys Parr (14 Apr)

Matteo Borsa a courtier

Horace Vincent (14 April)

Page to the Duchess

Ethel Freegarde (14 Apr)

Rigoletto a jester

Kingsley Lark (24 Feb)

Booth Hitchen (17 Mar; 14 Apr)

Sparafucile a professional assassin

E Gilding Clarke (17 Mar; 14 Apr)

Usher

Martin Quinn (Apr 14)

Production Cast

Conductor

Paul Kochs (Feb 24; Mar 17; Apr 14)

Stage Director

George Beale

Translator

Natalia Macfarren

Performance DatesRigoletto 1922

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

24 Feb, 19.15 17 Mar, 19.15 28 Mar, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

14 Apr, 19.15

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