Opera Scotland

Tales of Hoffmann 1956Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tales of Hoffmann

One of the most highly esteemed British films in the years after the war was the treatment of Tales of Hoffmann by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, with a soundtrack conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. It is hardly surprising that the Carl Rosa company should take advantage of this to put on a show which would be more adventurous than the usual Saturday evening "pop".

What was even more praiseworthy was the fact that, under the guidance of conductor Arthur Hammond, an acknowledged expert on French opera of the period, an attempt was made to restore many of Offenbach's first intentions, which subsequent editors had adjusted after his death. Thus Guiraud's tedious recitatives were jettisoned in favour of the original dialogue; the acts were at last played in the correct order, with the Giulietta act following the Antonia act. Furthermore, an attempt was made to tighten the structure by having Estelle Valery now sing all four heroines, Arthur Wallington all four villains, and Edwin Jepps the four servants. The Barcarolle was sung by two anonymous voices instead of the rather illogical combination of Giulietta and Nicklausse. Perhaps the only problem dramatically was still the issue as to whether Nicklausse is the Muse of Poetry - in this case they were clearly two separate personages.

The review in the Glasgow Herald (10 May) argued the performance "may not have encompassed all the drama and excitement of Offenbach's creation, but there was still much to recommend it.   If the passionate nature of Hoffmann was not always apparent in George Chitty's acting, his splendid singing did much to build up a convincing character.  The vastly different roles of Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta and Stella, who succeed on another in the poet's affections, were all entrusted to Estelle Valery.  She scored a considerable success in her difficult task, by her stage presence as well as vocally."

"Arthur Wallington gave the right malignancy to the evil influences in Hoffmann's affairs, and Mona Ross's was a sympathetic study of Nicklausse. The orchestra, under Arthur Hammond, gave good service throughout the evening."

The Scottish schedules were:

Glasgow (1), week commencing 7 May: Mon Cav & Pag; Tue Don Giovanni; Wed Tales of Hoffmann; Thu Manon Lescaut; Fri Barber of Seville; Sat mat Don Giovanni; Sat eve Rigoletto.

Glasgow (2), week commencing 14 May: Mon Faust; Tue Tannhäuser; Wed Bohème; Thu Barber of Seville; Fri Manon Lescaut; Sat mat Cav & Pag; Sat eve Trovatore.

Dundee, week commencing 22 Oct: Mon Faust; Tue Barber of Seville; Wed Cav & Pag; Thu Don Giovanni; Fri Manon Lescaut; Sat mat Bohème; Sat eve Tales of Hoffmann.

Performance Cast

Stella an opera singer

Estelle Valery

Nicklausse Hoffmann's friend

Mona Ross

Hoffman's Muse

Valerie Griffiths

Lindorf a councillor of Nuremberg

Arthur Wallington

Andrès Stella's servant

Edwin Jepps

Luther an innkeeoer

Basil Hemming

Nathaniel a student

Arthur Thelwell

Hermann a student

Peter Tracey

Wilhelm a student

Sidney Cross

Hoffmann a poet

George Chitty

Olympia a doll

Estelle Valery

Spalanzani an Italian inventor

Frederick Wood

Cochenille Spalanzani's servant

Edwin Jepps

Coppélius a scientist, Spalanzani's rival

Arthur Wallington

Antonia Crespel's daughter

Estelle Valery

Crespel a councillor of Munich

Donald Campbell

Franz Crespel's servant

Edwin Jepps

Dr Miracle a doctor

Arthur Wallington

Antonia's mother a spirit voice

Julia Bouttell

First Voice on the lagoon

Nancy Creighton

Second Voice on the lagoon

Julia Bouttell

Giulietta a courtesan

Estelle Valery

Schlemil Giulietta's lover

Frederick Wood

Pitichinaccio Giulietta's admirer

Edwin Jepps

Dapertutto a sorcerer

Arthur Wallington

Performance DatesTales of Hoffmann 1956

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

9 May, 19.15

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

27 Oct, 19.00

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