Opera Scotland

Lustigen Weiber von Windsor 1906Moody-Manners Opera Company

Read more about the opera Merry Wives of Windsor

No matter how enjoyable such a rare work may be, it does seem odd that Merry Wives should have been toured within months by both Moody-Manners and Carl Rosa (whose staging followed in February 1907).  While it is always enjoyable for regular opera-goers to be able to make comparisons, many would surely have preferred the chance to see another rarity.

The Scotsman of Saturday, 13 October (p9), gave an enthusiastic review to the previous evening's performance:

'Last night Mr Charles Manners followed up a succession of familiar operas with one which is comparatively a novelty in Edinburgh, although very well known and exceedingly popular on the Continent - Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor.  Light, or confessedly comic, opera as a form of high art, is scarcely understood in this country,  and the more credit is due to Mr Manners for bringing forward a work which runs counter to certain popularly accepted musical prejudices, although, when heard, it inevitably disarms them, and it is to be hoped that last night's success may induce Mr Manners to make further excursions in this attractive but hitherto neglected province of operatic art.........'

'Nicolai wrote half-a-dozen operas,  all of which have been completely forgotten with the exception of this sparkling masterpiece.  For sustained humour,  grace,   and sentiment,  all expressed in terms of the most accomplished musicianship,  it would be difficult,  away from Mozart,  to point to finer work than is to be found in almost every page of the Merry Wives of Windsor.  The vocal part writing is always grateful and characteristic,  and the instrumentation may be fairly described as masterly throughout.

'Last night's performance,  if some of the dialogue did not exactly run trippingly off the tongue,  nevertheless gave evidence of careful study,  and musically left little to be desired.  The Overture,  so well known in concert performances,  was exceedingly well played under the direction of Herr Eckhold,  which made it the more to be regretted that in some parts of the theatre it was almost drowned by a flood of conversation.

'As Mrs Ford,  Miss Kate Anderson made a most successful appearance, and gave further evidence of the rapid advance she is making in all branches of her art.  Mdlle Zélie De Lussan, as Mrs Page,  had a rôle of unwonted character for her, and was successful to a degree which caused regret that her gifts are mainly confined to her wonderful impersonation of Carmen.  Her powers as a comedian require no comment, but command of the florid vocalisation required by Nicolai's rather old-fashioned music, and, in particular,  her rendering of the ballad of ''Herne the Hunter'', in the third act presented this charming artist in unfamiliar phases of attractiveness.

'Mr Charles Manners, in an excellent make-up,  was Falstaff, and did some of the best work he has presented for years.  The swagger, the cunning, and the abject cowardice were all shown with an easy humour,  while the vocalisation was portentous,  in proportion to the vast bulk of the knight.  That valuable member of the company,  Mr Lewys James,  was a most successful Mr Ford.

'Mr Wilson Pembroke  sang with a real charm as Fenton, notably in the garden scene.  One of the younger members of the conpany,  Miss Garland,  was a winsome Anne Page,  while the comedy of Master Slender and Dr Caius had an excellent representation from Messrs Bailey and C Moppett,  and the Mr Page of Mr Charles Magrath completed a very satisfactory cast.  In a speech, after the fall of the curtain, Mr Manners expressed his gratification at the evident approval with which the opera had been received,  and the consequent encouragement to make further ventures of a similar kind in the future.'

 

The Scottish tour schedule

In 1906 Moody-Manners followed their recently established pattern with two visits to Scotland.  Glasgow hosted the company for two weeks each visit, with Edinburgh only having a single week each time.  The repertoire included further performances of  Eugene Onegin and the reintroduction of a couple of masterpieces from the 1830s in Donizetti's  Lucia di Lammermoor and Meyerbeer's  Les Huguenots.  Nicolai's Merry Wives and Wagner's Flying Dutchman were also comparative novelties.

The schedule for the two visits was as follows:-

Edinburgh w/c 5 March:  Mon Marriage of Figaro;  Tue 6 Carmen;  Wed 7 Eugene Onegin;  Thu 8 Tannhäuser;  Fri 9  Lucia di Lammermoor;  Sat 10 mat Huguenots;  Sat 10 eve Bohemian Girl.

Glasgow w/c 12 March:  Mon Huguenots;  Tue 13 Eugene Onegin;  Wed 14 Trovatore;  Fri 16 Carmen;  Sat 17 mat  Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 17 eve Maritana.

Glasgow w/c 19 March:  Mon Carmen; Tue 20 Flying Dutchman;  Wed 21 Eugene Onegin;  Thu 22 Lucia di Lammermoor;  Fri 23 Faust;  Sat 24 mat Flying Dutchman;  Sat 24 eve Bohemian Girl.

Edinburgh w/c 8 October:  Mon Faust;  Tue 9 Cav & Pag;  Wed 10  Tannhäuser;  Thu 11 Romeo and Juliet;  Fri 12 Merry Wives of Windsor;  Sat 13 mat  Carmen;  Sat 13 eve  Maritana.

Glasgow w/c 15 October:  Mon Carmen;  Tue 16 Faust;  Wed 17  Tannhäuser;  Thu 18 Romeo and Juliet;  Fri 19  Merry Wives of Windsor; Sat 20 Mar Cav & Pag;  Sat 20 eve Bohemian Girl.

Glasgow w/c 22 October: Mon Cav & Pag;  Tue 23 Lohengrin;  Wed 24  Carmen;  Thu 25 Merry Wives of Windsor;  Fri 26 Marriage of Figaro;  Sat 27 mat Faust;  Sat 27 eve Maritana.

Performance Cast

Mrs Ford Frau Fluth, wife of Ford

Kate Anderson (Oct 12)

Mrs Page Frau Reich, wife of Page, Anne's mother

Zélie de Lussan (Oct 12)

Anne Page Jungfer Anna Reich, daughter of Page

Miss Garland (Oct 12)

Fenton a young gentleman

Wilson Pembroke (Oct 12)

Ford Herr Fluth, a Windsor merchant

Lewys James (Oct 12)

Page Herr Reich, a Windsor merchant

Charles Magrath (Oct 12)

Slender Junker Spärlich, an elderly gentleman

Mr H Bailey (Oct 12)

Dr Caius a French gentleman

Charles Moppett (Oct 12)

Sir John Falstaff a knight

Charles Manners (Oct 12)

Performance DatesLustigen Weiber von Windsor 1906

Map List

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

12 Oct, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

19 Oct, 19.30 25 Oct, 19.30

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