Opera Scotland

International Celebrity Concert 1933Harold Holt

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This was Tetrazzini's final Scottish tour, her first having been in 1909, and she retired from singing the following year. The civic luncheon provided by the burghers of Dundee was unusual, to say the least, but the diva was clearly fond of a good dinner.

Her colleagues were perhaps not quite as famous, but Joseph Hislop was probably the most noted Scottish singer of the day, and Piatigorsky was simply one of the greatest cellists ever.

Additional tour dates to be confirmed.


Promoters Harold Holt and Messrs Methven, Simpson

International Celebrity Concert

                                                Luisa Tetrazzini             soprano

                                                Joseph Hislop               tenor

                                                Gregor Piatigorsky         cello

                                                Ivor Newton                  accompanist


                        Tetrazzini’s solos:

Thomas            A vos jeux (Ophelia’s mad scene) Hamlet.

Tosti                 L’Ultima canzone (encore).

Leoncavallo       Qu’a jamais le soleil se voile.

Tchaikovsky      Toujours à toi.

Chapì               Las Hijas del Zebedeo.

Verdi                A fors’è lui La traviata (encore).


                        Hislop’s solos:

Bizet                 Flower Song Carmen.

Lalo                  Vainement (Aubade) Le Roi d’Ys.

Leoncavallo       La Mattinata.

Di Veroli            Annabel Lee.

Warlock            Piggesnie.

Keel                  Bonnie George Campbell.

Murray              The Cornish Witch.

Encores:           Bonnie Wee Thing.

                          Mary of Argyle.


                        Piatigorsky’s solos:

Chopin              Nocturne.

Sarasate           Zapateado.

Pieces by Frescobaldi,  Bach,  Weber,  Scriabin,  Rimsky-Korsakov,  Granados.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Thursday, November 16 1933 (Dundee Library cuttings file p189)

Madame Tetrazzini’s Visit to Dundee - Magistrates to Entertain Her to Luncheon

            Madame Tetrazzini, the famous prima donna, who is making her farewell tour of Britain, will be entertained to luncheon by Dundee magistrates when she visits Dundee on November 23.  This civic welcome to the great singer, who has been described as “the last of the royal line of prima donnas,” was decided upon at a private meeting of the magistrates yesterday.  She will appear in the evening at the International Celebrity concert in the Caird Hall, along with Joseph Hislop, the tenor, and Gregor Piatigorsky, the ‘cellist.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Friday, November 17 1933 (cuttings p192)

Luncheon to Madame Tetrazzini

Sir – I was amazed to read in your issue of today that the magistrates at a ‘private’ meeting on Wednesday had decided to entertain this primadonna to a luncheon, and I just wondered, in times like these, who had the brain-wave to suggest such a thing and who was the bailie who had the nerve to propose it.

            Who is paying for the luncheon?  Are the magistrates, or is it the prima donna who is giving the treat, or is a raid to be made on the ‘Common Good’?  It is looking rather serious if in the first few days of the new Council, after all the shouting about economy, we should be starting off with free luncheons. It does look prosperous, but it does not go down with decent working folks, willing to work but no work for them.  They ask the question – Let the function cost much or let it cost little, why should it be given at all?

            All the men on the bench as presently constituted are in the Council through the MEA ticket. What has the MEA got to say about it? This minute, I presume, will come up for approval on Thursday 7th December – whether the Council can approve or disapprove,  I know not – but the electors can do so when the same bailies come before them in due season.  We returned a few candidates to the Council this month – all with the MEA and the DCA ticket, all sworn to ‘economy with efficiency.’  What are they going to do about it?

I am &c.


Dundee 16th November 1933.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Saturday, November 18 1933 (cuttings p193)

The Tetrazzini Luncheon - Dundee Bailies Saved from Fiasco

Dundee magistrates have got out of a difficulty in connection with the proposed civic reception and luncheon to Madame Tetrazzini in honour of her farewell appearance. The prima donna is to sing in the Caird Hall on Thursday first, and the magistrates agreed to entertain her to lunch earlier in the day. The magistrates did not know that vocal celebrities do not eat, or at least eat very sparingly, prior to a concert of the International Celebrity calibre.

So they were in a quandary.  It would not do for them to eat a lunch in honour of Madame Tetrazzini if Madame Tetrazzini were absent fasting.  However the difficulty has been got over.  A wire was received last night stating that Madame Tetrazzini had arranged to come to Dundee on Wednesday.  So the luncheon will take place the day before the concert.


Luncheon to Madame Tetrazzini

            Sir, - I was interested to read of ‘Economy’s’ objections to the courteous reception which the Town Council of Dundee propose to give to Madame Tetrazzini – the last representative of a past musical era – on the occasion of her farewell visit to Dundee next Thursday.

            I will not enter into the merits of this affair from the point of view of the honour of our city, but I would suggest that in making this graceful gesture our Town Council are displaying a welcome interest in the musical culture of Dundee, and are at the same time setting a good example which may be followed by a great proportion of the musical citizens of our district, many of whom must surely have grown blasé lately, judging by the size of recent concert audiences.  If these good citizens could play up to this example we need not hear further of these rumours that concert promoters cannot go on indefinitely catering for the musical culture of Dundee at a financial loss.

            Incidentally it might ensure the continuance of what must be a substantial part of the income of the Caird Hall, namely, the rentals obtained from these concerts, otherwise the Caird Hall will become something of a white elephant and a greater cost to the community.

I am, &c.

Prudent Economy.

Dundee, 17th November 1933.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Monday, November 20 1933 (cuttings p136)

Luncheon to Madame Tetrazzini

            Sir, - I wonder how many of the electors will pay heed to the letter put forward by ‘Economy’ re the luncheon to Madame Tetrazzini.  I hope there are many who will, and that they will show their protest against such a waste of public money.

            We are not told who is responsible for this gesture, or where the money is to come from, but as citizens we ought to know their names.  If this thing goes through and we are not given the councillors’ names let the electors pay attention to the minute in the public library and take note of the names for reference at the next elections.

            Our town councillors want to cut out all this high-hatted business – especially in these hard times.  If they are anxious to give this celebrated singer a farewell luncheon let them pay for it out of their own pockets and not out of ours.

            ‘Economy’ says What has the MEA to say about it?  They will say nothing.  But I would say, What has the DCA – that great vigilance body – got to say about it now they are in the Town Council?

I am, &c.



Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Wednesday, November 22 1933 (cuttings p202)

Tetrazzini's Arrival Today - Dundee Civic Reception

Tetrazzini, the famous prima donna, will arrive at Dundee West Station to-day on the 11.30am train from Glasgow.   The magistrates are giving a civic reception and luncheon in her honour in the City Chambers.   Tetrazzini will sing tomorrow night at the international celebrity concert at the Caird Hall.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Thursday, November 23 1933

Tetrazzini Sings - To a Dundee Parrot! -  Hotel Concert after Visit to Talkies

           A Dundee parrot had the distinction last night of being the sole listener to a concert by that queen of song,  Madame Tetrazzini.    And the parrot liked it so much that he sang back.

            Madame Tetrazzini, after the civic luncheon accorded her by the magistrates on her arrival in Dundee yesterday, went to the pictures.  She is very fond of them, and spends a lot of her spare time at the ‘talkies’.

            She went to the Majestic, and spent a peaceful hour or two, unknown and unrecognised.  Then she went back to her hotel, the Royal British, and had some food.  Then she met the parrot.  It belongs to the proprietor.  For an hour and a half the prima donna amused herself with that parrot.  She is very fond of parrots, and has a wonderful way with them.  She has a wonderful parrot of her own.

            Parrots have the same liking for Madame Tetrazzini as Madame Tetrazzini has for them.  Her high-pitched voice does the trick, and the ‘Royal British’ parrot was entranced.  He sang back to her as never before.  If it was not just a case of mesmerism that parrot’s repertoire has been increased a hundredfold.

            At nine o’clock the séance came to an end, and Madame Tetrazzini went to bed.  She will rest all day to-day in preparation for to-night’s celebrity concert in the Caird Hall.


Welcome to Madame Tetrazzini – Civic Luncheon Tribute

            Many admirers, mainly women, crowded round the great singer when she alighted from the Glasgow train at the West Station.

            Madame Tetrazzini was entertained to a civic luncheon by the magistrates.  She was visibly affected by the warmth of her reception, and at the luncheon she could not restrain tears.

            Sixty-two years of age, Madame Tetrazzini, who has been a foremost personality on the operatic stages and concert platforms of the world for over 30 years, is now on a farewell tour of Britain.

            The singer was accompanied by Mr E W Evennett, representative of Mr Harold Holt, the concert promoter, and her lady secretary.

            The sun greeted her arrival. She was wearing a Persian lamb coat with a spray of pink carnations. The prima donna smilingly acknowledged the greetings of her admirers when a car drove her to the Royal British Hotel.

            The civic luncheon took place in the Lord Provost’s parlour in the City Chambers.  When Madame Tetrazzini arrived she was presented by Lord Provost Buist to the magistrates.

            The function was attended by nearly a score of guests, including the Lady Provost, Mr W H Blyth Martin (town clerk), bailies Carnegie, Blackwood, Greig, Wright, G Aimer, and Third, lord Dean of Guild W Halley Brown, Mr Evennett, Madame Tetrazzini’s secretary, Mr Ivor Newton (accompanist), Mr Fred Robson and Miss Cargill (representing Methven, Simpson, Ltd), Mr J N Duncan (city factor), and Mr John Turnbull (Lord Provost’s secretary).

            Proposing the health of the guest of honour, lord provost Buist said they admired her for her art and for her services to the world of song.  She was the first singer in their own Caird Hall. Madame Tetrazzini had on four previous occasions sung in Dundee (in 1909, 1913, 1921 and 1922). He expressed the hope that to-night, when she appeared in the Caird Hall, the audience would be worthy of the city.

            He trusted the musical public would rally round those who by their enterprise were bringing great artistes and celebrities to the city. Three cheers were given for Madame Tetrazzini, who was in tears.

            Mr Evennett said that Madame Tetrazzini was a little self-conscious about her Scots accent, and had asked him to reply.  She had a very warm affection for the Scots people and cherished the memory of the sincere friendliness always shown to her by the Dundee public. Madame Tetrazzini then briefly said – ‘Thank you.’

            Mr Newton and Mr Robson also spoke, and Bailie Carnegie submitted the health of the Lord and Lady Provost, to which Mrs Buist replied.

            After the function Madame Tetrazzini was kept busy signing autograph books.  The prima donna was introduced to Sergeant-Major G Bedson, MC, the Black Watch veteran, who is the Dundee Council officer.  She was reluctant to believe than Mr Bedson is ten years her senior.

            Madame Tetrazzini congratulated the chef of the café Val D’Or, the caterers, on the excellent luncheon.

            As the prima donna was being driven away from the City Chambers she missed her sprig of white heather, which she had brought from Glasgow as a memento of Scotland.  She insisted on going back and recovering it. White heather is notoriously lucky.


Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Friday, November 24 1933 (cuttings p207)

Tetrazzini’s Triumph – Enthusiastic Scenes in Caird Hall.

Hislop and Piatigorsky Charm Big Audience

            Madame Tetrazzini should carry away with her from Dundee very pleasant memories indeed.  Her concert in the Caird Hall last night not only brought her an added personal triumph to a long series, but the size of the audience was an indication of the place she holds in the memories and affections of the people of Dundee.  If there were vacant seats in the Caird Hall there were very few.  Even at celebrity concerts nowadays it is seldom that the Dundee public turn out in the numbers they did last night.

            The interest that the visit of the great prima donna created was evidenced outside as well as inside the Caird Hall.  Her arrival was awaited by a large crowd in the Square, and she was the principal in a very flattering innovation as she entered the hall.

            Lord Provost Buist, who was present along with Mrs Buist, the magistrates and town councillors and their wives, formally introduced Madame Tetrazzini to the audience and extended a welcome to her to the city.  Dundonians, he said, did not forget that it was Madame Tetrazzini who first sang in the Caird Hall, and they were glad that before she set out on her farewell tour she should again visit Dundee.

            Madame Tetrazzini would not venture a speech in reply, but indicated her appreciation by gracefully bowing her acknowledgments.  A laurel wreath decorated with the Italian colours, which was presented to the singer, occupied an honoured place on the platform, rather to her embarrassment when she took up her position at the piano to sing her first group of songs.

            With her delightful knack for expressive gesture she naively indicated to the audience that in placing the wreath they had not taken sufficiently into account her by no means insignificant proportions, and at once she got on the best of terms with her audience.

            For her first contribution to the programme Madame Tetrazzini chose Ophelia’s aria in the mad scene from Ambroise Thomas’ setting of Hamlet.  This choice was at once an indication that Madame Tetrazzini is not afraid of the passing of the years, and before she had reached the end of a very exciting number she had given evidence that as an artiste time has dealt lightly with her.

            Her voice may have lost a little of its roundness, but it is still an excellent instrument, excellently controlled.  She still sings delightfully in tune, her coloratura is flexible and without apparent effort, and great beauty of tone still marks most of her singing.  And above all as an artiste, she is probably more convincing than ever she was.

            Her interpretation of the mad scene was pregnant with understanding and imagination, as was everything she offered to follow it.  The audience thus early demanded an encore, and she willingly responded with a delightful rendering of Tosti’s ‘L’Ultima Canzone’.  Her evident pleasure at her reception was visibly enhanced by the presentation of a beautiful bouquet of chrysanthemums.

            Later in the evening Madame Tetrazzini contributed a group of songs embracing ‘Qu’a jamais le soleil se voile’, by Leoncavallo;  Tschaikowsky’s ‘Toujours à toi’;  and Chapi’s ‘Las Hijas del Zebedeo’; and for a final encore she sang the recitative and adagio, ‘Ah fors’ è lui’ from La Traviata, the opera with which she made her debut at Covent Garden 26 years ago.  The closing scene was one of great enthusiasm.  As the audience vociferously applauded the singer threw kisses and imaginary hand shakes to all parts of the hall.

The concert was not marked by one triumph, but a series of triumphs, equally shared by the three artistes on the programme.  Mr Joseph Hislop, the Scottish tenor, only took farewell of the audience after he had four times complied with their demands for more, while Piatigorsky, a ‘cellist new to Dundee, but well known by the Continental reputation he has been rapidly building up, had also to respond to the enthusiastic demands of the audience.

Although Hislop has not neglected the lyrical treasures of his native land, it is as an operatic tenor that his real claim to distinction rests, and last night he gave the audience an excellent opportunity of estimating his worth with the ‘Flower Song’ from Carmen, Lalo’s Aubade from Le Roi d’Ys, and Leoncavallo’s ‘Mattinata’.

In a subsequent group of songs he included a very effective setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s tragic poem, ‘Annabel Lee’, which is still in manuscript, and has been written by a young Italian composer now living in London, Manlio di Veroli.  Peter Warlock’s sprightly and dainty ‘Piggesnie’ so captivated the audience that Hislop had to repeat it before he was allowed to proceed with Keel’s setting of ‘Bonnie George Campbell’ and Allan Murray’s ‘The Cornish Witch’, with which it was bracketed.  To the delight of the audience Hislop included in his encores a very expressive rendering of ‘Bonnie Wee Thing’, and one no less satisfying of ‘Mary of Argyle’.  Hislop possesses a voice of particularly fine quality.  His dramatic instinct is sure, and his enunciation is so distinct that one never misses a word – an asset unfortunately too rare among singers today.

Piatigorsky is one of the finest ‘cello players who have been heard in Dundee for a long time.  His tone is of exceptionally fine quality.  His pianissimo playing is eerily uncanny in its sheer beauty.  Technically, nothing seems to give him the slightest trouble, and his versatility and musicianship were well vouched for in the wide range of music he essayed.

Nothing more charmingly exquisite could be wished for than his muted rendering of a Chopin nocturne, nothing more daringly brilliant than Sarasate’s Spanish dance ‘Zapateado’, with all the technical difficulties which that virtuoso created to show off his own digital dexterity on the smaller instrument.

Frescobaldi,  Bach,  Weber,  Scriabine,  Rimsky-Korsakov and Granados were also called upon by Piatigorsky for his contribution to the evening’s programme.   Mr Ivor Newton, whose work as accompanist is now well known to Dundee Celebrity artistes, again filled this position with his accustomed ability.


Dundee City Square Pageantry - Celebrity Concert Prelude

The stranger within the gate might well have rubbed his eyes last night. Certainly Dundonians in the vicinity of the new City Square about half-past seven were amazed.  Was it possible that the town could conjure up such a picture of brilliance and beauty?  The square presented as gay a scene as one is likely to find in London or the Continent.

There was the brightly-lit square, now a familiar sight to citizens – but as a place of solitude.  Last night it was different.  It teemed with life.  Imagine the scene – backed by the Caird Hall, flood-lit for the celebrity concert, and bordered on the west by the new wing, which was throwing out gleams of colour from its new stained-glass windows.

A double line of cars swung in a steady stream along the carriageway to the hall.  Beautifully-gowned ladies passed up the steps, with their escorts in full evening rig.  Crowds lined the square and the hall steps, waiting to catch a glimpse of the star of the evening – ‘the last of the royal line.’  But the great majority who waited for the prima donna waited in vain.  A handsome limousine slipped unobtrusively into the square and stopped before reaching the centre doorway of the hall.

From it stepped the Titian-haired lady, dressed in white ermine coat, whose voice has enthralled the world. A knot of people quickly gathered round.  Madame Tetrazzini smiled a greeting, and before proceeding slowly on the arm of her escort, Mr E W Evennett, and her lady secretary to the side door of the Caird Hall, stopped and patted the head of a little girl standing by.  ‘Hello, little girl,’ she said.  A proud moment for the youngster!

Madame Tetrazzini bids farewell to Dundee this morning.  She leaves the West Station at 8.20 for Preston, and appears at Manchester to-morrow.

Performance DatesInternational Celebrity Concert 1933

Map List

Caird Hall | Dundee

23 Nov, 19.30

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