Opera Scotland

International Celebrity Concert 1924Harold Holt

Read more about the opera Recital

Amelita Galli-Curci soprano

Homer Samuels piano

Manuel Berenguer flute

Note: Amelita Galli-Curci made her British debut in a concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 12 October 1924.  On her arrival at Plymouth she was welcomed by the Lord Mayor of that city and she travelled to London in the royal coach generally used by the Prince of Wales (Opera, October 1974, p908).

 

Her programme included:

Giordani:   Caro mio ben.

Rossini: Una voce poco fa Il barbiere di Siviglia.

Verdi:   Tacea la notte Il trovatore.

Donizetti:   Mad Scene Lucia di Lammermoor.

 

Delibes:   Les Filles de Cadiz.

Massenet:   Twilight.

Fontenailles:   Roses d'Hiver.

Dell' Acqua: Villanelle.

Valverde:  Clavelitos.

 

Dobson:  Dry be that tear.

Russell:  Vale.

Novello:  Little Damozel.

Keppel:  Robin Adair.

Trad.L  The Last Rose of Summer.

Bishop:  Home, Sweet Home.

 

Dundee Advertiser: Tuesday, November 11 1924

Galli-Curci’s Triumph - Great Enthusiasm in Caird Hall - Beautiful Singer’s Many Songs

            Madame Amelita Galli-Curci made her long-looked-for appearance in the Caird Hall, Dundee last night before an audience that filled practically every seat, with the exception of a few rows of the organ gallery; and wove a magic spell so well that her hearers were clamouring for more, after she had taken the last of many recalls.  In all the little lady sang 17 times, her repertoire running the gamut of musical expression from the operatic aria to “The Last Rose of Summer,” and the enthusiasm with which she was received was exceedingly spontaneous and hearty.  An ingenious set of footlights must have enhanced the effect of her singing in the distant portions of the hall.

            Speculation has been rife concerning the extraordinary furore Galli-Curci has created in this, her first tour of Britain, and to the gramophone ought to go the credit.  It is to be regretted she did not sing Bishop’s “Lo, hear the gentle lark,” for it has done more to spread her fame than all her operatic arias.  This fragment of Bishop’s, who was at one time Professor of Music at Edinburgh and a prolific composer somewhat despised nowadays, is thoroughly representative of the British school of his period, and is perfectly recorded on the gramophone.

            Galli-Curci is a beautiful singer, with none of the hardness that one would expect from so perfect a recording voice.  It is difficult to avoid comparisons in dealing with artistes of the coloratura class, but in both the characteristics that go to the make-up of the front-rank vocalist - in voice and in the use of it - Galli-Curci is undoubtedly among the truly great.  Throughout its entire compass her voice is singularly pure.  In the lower range a not unpleasing nasal quality appears; in her top register the beautiful reedy quality was superb.  Her production, too, is effortless, and she provides an object-lesson to all young vocalists.

            But Galli-Curci possesses not only a wonderful vocal mechanism for the flowery music of the Italian school.  Her legato at times was almost as wonderful, and the smooth flow of Massenet’s “Twilight” and “Roses d’Hiver” of Fontenailles, along with perfect mezza-voce, was ravishingly beautiful.  Only in realising the atmosphere does Galli-Curci fail to fully impress, her temperamental equipment not rising to the same heights as her vocal gifts.  She does not stir the blood.  Probably nervousness, or an inability to find the range of the hall, made the well-known “Caro Mio Ben” of Giordani, with which she opened, one of the least successful of her numbers.  Pitch was not beyond reproach, and an exaggerated portamento spoiled the effect of its curves.  But Galli-Curci can give that slide from note to note at times like a benediction or a caress, as in Delibes’ “Les Filles de Cadiz,” the brightness of her tone and the crispness of its delivery being delightful.

            In the works in the Italian method, Galli-Curci excels, and in Verdi’s “Tacea la notte,” Rossini’s “Una voce poco fa,” and the “Mad Scene” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, the polish and brilliance of her technique were marvellously clear and crisp.  The perfection of her roulades and trills is amazing.  Her astonishing skill in the ledger lines brought the house at her feet.  Songs like the “Villanelle” of dell’Acqua, and the little Spanish song of Valverde “Clavelitos” (repeated to the occupants of the organ gallery, with her back to the audience), she made little works of art, splendid examples of perfect breath control and that expert use of the tip of the tongue, the teeth, and the lips in consonants that mark the finished singer.

            In a section devoted to songs in English, Galli-Curci demonstrated that her abilities go beyond the merely florid, for her singing of Dobson’s “Dry be that Tear” and Russell’s “Vale” was full of good tone and feeling, and a commendable care for good vowels. Novello’s “Little Damozel” was charming in its gaiety and spirit and its vocal embellishment surpassingly neat.  Of course, “The Last Rose of Summer” and “Robin Adair” were included, but by the time Madame Galli-Curci returns to Scotland she will have found better settings for both.

            Nothing pleases an audience more than that a prima donna should be able to play her own pianoforte accompaniment, and the concert closed on the suitable note of “Home, Sweet Home”, for which the lady was recalled again and again, dismissing her thoroughly appreciative listeners with a farewell wave of the hand.

            Flute obbligati were provided to several of Galli-Curci’s songs with excellent taste and discretion by Mr Manuel Berenguer, and he also contributed a Chaminade Concerto, which lay too much within the piano part for effect, and an encore number full of good tone and finely phrased.  Mr Homer Samuels, husband of the singer, provided careful and restrained piano accompaniments.

 

Wants to Come back - Madame Galli-Curci on Her Dundee Audience

            “Oh, it is cold in your country; I have not been warm all day,” were the words with which Mme Galli-Curci smilingly greeted an Advertiser representative last night at the conclusion of her concert in the Caird Hall, Dundee.

            She looked very charming as she spoke, for the gown which she wore emphasised the glossy blackness of her hair, her flashing black eyes, and her vivid colouring.  It was a lovely creation she had chosen of shimmering cloth of silver, enshrouded with a cloudy veiling of soft creamy chiffon.  The silver foundation was sleeveless, cut low at the neck, and draped closely to her slim figure, but at the sides the chiffon veiling was gathered into two long, billowing panels.  Rare diamond and emerald rings, some of unique design, flashed upon her long, white tapering fingers as she emphasised each remark, and long diamond ear-rings sparkled in her ears.  Her hair was drawn smoothly and severely back from her forehead, and gathered in a knot at the back, where it was surmounted by a large Spanish comb of ivory.  Before leaving the hall she draped over the comb a gorgeous Spanish mantilla of beautiful lace in the style affected by Spanish ladies.

            In conversation, Mme Galli-Curci is bright and very vivacious, and, on her own confession, “perhaps a little bit too truthful always.”  In spite of the cold weather, she liked Dundee, and she liked Scotland.  She found the audience responsive but not so responsive as audiences in other countries.  From the way in which audiences in this country warmed as the concerts progressed she knew, however, that it was not lack of appreciation, it was rather that they did not like to show their feelings.  She first encountered this reserve in Philadelphia.

            The first time she was there she went on the platform, and immediately thought, “Oh, they do not like me. Then,” she said, “I sang and they applauded like this” - and Madame applauded rather limply in illustration.  “Again I sang, and again they applauded like this,” (Galli-Curci here giving a further demonstration).

            “Later, I returned to the same town.  Again I thought ‘Still they do not like me!’  They applauded in the same way, but once more every seat was occupied.  And next time I returned it was the same, so I began to think they must like me after all.  That helped me to understand the British audiences.”

            “And when you come to Dundee again you will once more find every seat occupied,” remarked an enthusiast nearby.

            “Well, probably so,” said Madame, “I should certainly like to come back again to this lovely hall.”

Performance Cast

Soprano

Amelita Galli-Curci

Production Cast

Pianist

Homer Samuels

Performance DatesInternational Celebrity Concert 1924

Map List

Caird Hall | Dundee

10 Nov, 19.30

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