Opera Scotland

Romeo and Juliet 1922Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Roméo et Juliette

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, 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 in Glasgow, 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. Gounod's Romeo and Juliet, not performed by the company for thirty years, was in a major revival, and must have been in rehearsal on and off through the early weeks of the tour. It was also seen in Edinburgh.

 

Gounod's opera, derived from Shakespeare, struggled to maintain popularity, and has perhaps been played more often in the late 20th century and early 21st than in the previous decades of the 20th.

In commenting on the third and last  performance on this Scottish tour, the Scotsman of Saturday, 22 April, stated that this 'was a welcome revival of an opera which has for a number of years past been most unjustly neglected. It has not, perhaps, the same instant appeal that is possessed by Faust, but it contains some exquisitely beautiful music, and there is a haunting loveliness in the composer's treatment of the balcony scene.'

It seems to have been an impressive performance - 'Last night's cast was throughout on a high plane of merit. Miss Maude Neilson's Juliet was better than anything else she has done during the past fortnight, and the Romeo of Mr John Perry had a note of real distinction. The Mercutio of Mr Kingsley Lark was a fine romantic impersonation, while the ''Queen Mab'' song was given with great vivacity.

'Mr E Gilding Clark was impressive as Friar Lawrence; Mr Frederick Clendon was appropriately dignified as Capulet; and Miss Josephine Malone did very well as the page Stephano. Mr Horace Vincent's Tybalt was vocally effective, although it lacked somewhat in the impetuosity proper to the character. The chorus, in what there is for it to do in the opera, was satisfactory, and the orchestra was always good. Mr Paul Kochs conducted. There was a gratifyingly large audience.' 

Cast details are from a programme for 21 April in Edinburgh Central Library, the principal performers being confirmed in reviews.

Performance DatesRomeo and Juliet 1922

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

14 Mar, 19.15 30 Mar, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

21 Apr, 19.15

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