Opera Scotland

Tales of Hoffmann 1919Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tales of Hoffmann

At this stage in its performance history, The Tales of Hoffmann was a bit of a problem. It was played with recitative instead of dialogue, like a grand opera. The acts were played in the wrong order, with Antonia's death placed at the end, after the Venetian act, and most of the prologue disappeared altogether.  Never mind - it gave punters the opportunity to hear the astonishing talent of Eva Turner beginning her majestic career (and to pity the poor girl who, as Nicklausse, had to duet with her in the Barcarolle).

In December, Glasgow had a visit by a second Carl Rosa group, under the management of H B Phillips. The repertoire had several unusual pieces - Traviata, RigolettoRomeo and Juliet - but Hoffmann appeared here too. This cast included an early appearance by Parry Jones in the title role. It also featured an attempt at authenticity, with one baritone singing all three villains, while a single tenor played the three servants - not an idea that was attempted earlier in the year.

 

The senior management of the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company during the spring tour was headed by two 'Controlling Directors', Mrs Carl Rosa, widow of the founder and Walter van Noorden, who had conducted them in earlier years. The Artistic Director was the experienced bass Arthur Winckworth, still active on stage, and the General Business Manager was Henry Barrett Brandreth. Conducting duties were divided between Henriquez de la Fuente and Herbert Ferrers. By the time of the winter season, a new General Manager was in place, Mr H B Phillips.

The week commencing 27 January was the last week of opera to be seen in Dundee  for several years. Her Majesty's, a beautiful, atmospheric, popular - and profitable - theatre since 1885, was about to be purchased by a London-based cinema company. This event caused widespread outrage, but was a fait accompli, never to be reversed.

 

Three Dundee Critics

Dundee Advertiser: Tuesday, 28 January, 1919  (p7)

Carl Rosa Opera - Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann

'It is easy to understand the popularity everywhere of Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann.  In the opera we are offered an interesting story, or three stories rather, told in an original way. The music, if it probes no profound depths, is always agreeable, and at times is touched with passion; no less than three prime donne are provided with important roles; and opportunities are given for fine scenic effects. The audience last night, which completely filled Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee, found the opera very much to its taste, and was unstinted in its approbation of the more intense situations, acting or music.

'In order to grasp the story it is necessary to understand the opera's unusual construction. In the prologue the protagonist Hoffmann agrees to give his comrades an account of his disastrous love experiences. In the three acts that follow three episodes of his amours are set forth, each occupying one act. Each episode has its own heroine, though Hoffmann is, of course, the lover throughout. A villain of miraculous power is also always the same, otherwise the episodes are disconnected. In effect the opera is three single operas rolled into one. The epilogue shows Hoffmann and his comrades seeking consolation in wine. The first act might fairly be described as humorously fanciful; the second is more particularly passionate; while the third appeals to the sense of pity.

'The chief character Hoffmann is seldom off the stage. Last night that part was played by the tenor Hughes Macklin, in a manner that showed more than one side of his art. In the opening scene his voice appeared a little veiled, but later on, in the Venetian scene, especially, he sang with great clearness and power. He was also excellent in the quiet passages, with horn obbligato, which he sings while viewing Olympia through his magic glasses. Hoffmann's three loves - the doll Olympia (who seemed to have stepped out of La Poupee), Giulietta, the gay lady of Venice, and Antonia, the consumptive singer - were played respectively by Misses Florence Barron, Eva Turner, and Clara Simon. These ladies' voices differ greatly in quality and volume. All sang well, Miss Barron being very successful in the doll's mechanical strains. Rich and of full volume are Miss Turner's notes, while Miss Simon sings with true soprano quality. Mr Clendon and Mr M'Donald were sufficiently diabolical as the magicians. The remaining parts were adequately filled.

'The chorus deserves warm praise for its work. In the Venetian scene an immense effect of power was produced; and the male voices in the prologue and epilogue were excellent. Offenbach's orchestral score has many points of beauty, if not of novelty. It was well played by the augmented orchestra under Mr Herbert Ferrers. Particularly good was the orchestra's rendering of the Barcarolle before the epilogue. As a vocal duet, however, the Barcarolle was not a success, the voices being unequally matched.'

 

Dundee Courier & Argus: Tuesday, 28 January, 1919 (p2)

The Tales of Hoffmann

'Never had an opera company a better send-off in Dundee than that given to the Carl Rosa Opera Company at Her Majesty's Theatre, and never was a first performance more heartily enjoyed. All parts of the house were filled.

'The Offenbach who wrote the music of The Tales of Hoffmann is far removed from the composer of The Grand Duchess, for instance, and it is a matter for deep regret that Offenbach only reached his best in his last work.  There is the same flow of melody as in the earlier operas, but it is melody of a far higher, more refined, and more artistic type, and the orchestration, too, is on a much loftier plane than the accompaniments of the lighter operas which preceded The Tales of Hoffmann.  The marvel is that, although the opera was produced as far back as 1881, it is only within the last few years that it has become known in this country.  Judging by its reception last night, a week of The Tales of Hoffmann would not be too much for Dundee.

'As most people now know, there are three Tales, each one depicting a love episode, of which there were evidently many in the life of Hoffmann.  Each episode occupies an act, and these acts are preceded by a prologue, in which Hoffmann meets a number of students in a wine cellar in Nuremberg, and after a few tankards of beer and a bowl of punch, is prevailed upon to give three of his experiences, and followed by an epilogue in which, when the curtain rises, Hoffmann's audience - very unlike that of last night - is found fast asleep.

'There is a curious mystic feeling in each of the three acts introduced by Hoffmann's evil genius, who appears in different guise each time.  In the first act he is Coppelius, a maker of magic glasses, of the spectacle type; in the second by Dapertutto, who uses with weird effect a looking-glass; and in the last by Dr Miracle, a doctor of magic, of the most Mephistophelean type. The heroine in the first episode is a wonderful Doll, of the La Poupee order, whom Hoffmann, by the aid of Coppelius' glasses, mistakes for a real live girl; in the second by a lady of pleasure, a tool of the weird Dapertutto; and in the third by a singer suffering like Violetta in La Traviata, and forbidden to sing, but tempted to do so by Dr Miracle, who introduces her dead mother's voice to achieve his end, which, of course, culminates in the death of the singer.

'No better choice could have been made to show the strength of the company.  We had, for instance, no fewer than three leading soprani, and about three times as many tenors, baritones, and basses.  And, of course, this by no means exhausts the solo strength.

'Miss Florence Barron, who appears as Olympia, the Doll of the first act, has a light voice, which admirably suited the character of the music.  She was specially brilliant in the florid waltz, and her acting was extremely pretty and appropriate.  Miss Eva Turner, the Giulietta of the second act, has a more robust voice, which told splendidly in the famous 'Barcarolle', the second part of that duet being effectively taken by Miss Lena Maitland.  In the love duets, too, Miss Turner sang with great fervour and passion. Miss Clara Simons, as Antonia, of the last act, gave the charming Romanza with which the act opens with great charm and delicacy, the harp accompaniment being particularly attractive.

'Mr Hughes Macklin, a robust tenor, and an actor of much merit, had much to do as Hoffmann.  His Ballad of Kleinzack was sung with some spirit, and in the concerted music, notably in the duets with Miss Turner and Miss Simons, and in the male voice trio in the act, he sang superbly.  Mr Frederick Clendon, an old favourite, made a most amusing Coppelius and Mr George McDonald played with fine grimness and dramatic power as Dapertutto and Dr Miracle.   The other parts were all ably filled.

'The chorus is uncommonly good, and the band, one of the biggest we have had in Her Majesty's, played brilliantly, if a little too loudly, in the Prologue and Epilogue.  The orchestral treatment of the “Barcarolle” was a delight.'

 

Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post: Tuesday, 28 anuary, 1919

Her Majesty's Theatre - The Tales of Hoffmann

 'The Carl Rosa Opera Company opened their week last night with Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann.  In it Offenbach uses all the usual operatic devices - they are something more than tricks - with telling effects.

'The feature of the performance was the splendid characterisation of Hoffmann by Mr Hughes Macklin.  He is a tenor who can act, and that is much. His voice is a full robust tenor, capable of much expressive singing and always pure in tone. The love numbers especially were replete with artistic reticence and feeling, and Mr Macklin received an ovation at the close of the opera that was as warm as it was deserved.

'The Tales are really three little operas, each complete in itself, with a prologue and epilogue to explain their purport. Hoffmann certainly had not much luck in his love affairs. In his first episode he fell in love with a doll (Miss Florence Barron), whose roulades and intricate runs were admirably rendered. The doll is the product of one Spalanzani (Mr Robert Brookes), who reminds us of Hilarius in La Poupée, and - shades of Eric Thorne - might at any moment say 'All my work!' The mischief is wrought by Coppélius (Mr Frederick Clendon), who gives away the show. The minuet that pervades this act is an attractive piece of music. The famous barcarolle floats in and out of the second act with haunting grace. Here Hoffmann succumbs to a Venetian charmer, and the love duets between him and Giulietta (Miss Eva Turner, a fine soprano) have the real operatic lilt. The barcarolle was sung by Miss Eva Turner and Miss Lena Maitland (Nicklaus), but it was spoilt by the former drowning out the latter. The third act is in the Traviata vein (oh! those consumptive operatic heroines). Antonia, a young singer, is forbidden to sing because of her pulmonary trouble, but a doctor of magic, with Mephistophelian intent, persuades her to do so, and she dies. Miss Clara Simons, as Antonia, had much florid music to sing, and her soprano voice rang out clearly in trill and coloratura, and she sang a simple melody with much sweetness. So much for Hoffmann's amours, and the last we see of him is in a cellar drowning his sorrows.

'The presentation of the opera was excellent from all points. Besides the principals mentioned, Mr Lovat Crosley revealed a good tenor voice in the prologue; Mr Frederick Clendon sang with good tone as Crespel, and Mr George McDonald, as Dr Miracle, gave the character an appropriately eerie feeling. The ladies' choruses were better than those entrusted to the other sex, and the band, under Mr Herbert Ferrers, was quite satisfactory in its renderings.'

 

Edinburgh Press

The Scotsman:  Tuesday, 11 March 1919

'Last night's performance of the opera called for little but praise. There was a very good cast, which included Mr Wiliam Boland as Hoffmann; Miss Lena Maitland as Nicklaus; Miss Florence Barron as Olympia, the doll; Miss Ina Hill as Giulietta; Miss Clara Simons as Antonia; Mr Frederick Clendon as Coppelias, and as Crespel, the father of Antonia; and Mr Robert Brookes as Spalanzani, the doll-maker.  Mr Hebden Foster replaced Mr George McDonald, who is ill, as Dapertutto and Dr Miracle.  The minor characters were all in very capable hands.  Miss Florence Barron's impersonation of the doll is now well known, and last night it displayed the customary finish.  Miss Ina Hill was excellent as Giulietta, and Miss Clara Simons's Antonia was full of freshness and charm.  Miss Lena Maitland's Nicklaus was another good piece of work.  Mr Boland's Hoffmann showed how he has gained in effectiveness, alike as a singer and an actor; and Mr Hebden Foster as Dappertutto and Dr Miracle and Mr Clendon as Coppelius contributed impersonations which were soundly artistic in every detail.  The Spalanzani of Mr Robert Brookes, too, as always was very convincing.  The chorus was good, and under the direction of Mr Herbert Ferrers the performance of the opera was bright and effective."

 

The Carl Rosa Scottish Tours in 1919

The 1919 season consisted of one week at Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Theatre (HMT), then one week at Dundee’s Her Majesty’s Theatre (HMT). There followed four weeks at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal (TR). Following a break of one week, when the company made a detour to Greenock King's Theatre (KT), there were two weeks at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum (RLT), then later still another two in Glasgow (TR). Ten weeks, followed by a further three in December to give thirteen. By now, the Carl Rosa organisation was running a number of separate companies, the Phillips section giving the December performances.

 

w/c Mon Jan 20 Tales of Hoffmann Tue ToscaWed Tannhauser; Thu MignonFri Carmen; Sat m Madam ButterflySat e Faust. AHMT

w/c Mon Jan 27 Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Tannhauser; Wed Faust; Thu Madam Butterfly; Fri Mignon; Sat mTales of Hoffmann; Sat e Trovatore. DHMT 

w/c Mon 3 Feb Tannhauser; Tue BohèmeWed Madam Butterfly; Thu Trovatore; Fri Tosca; Sat m Mignon; Sat e Tales of Hoffmann. GTR 

w/c Mon 10 Feb Cav and Pag; Tue Faust; Wed Carmen; Thu Tales of Hoffmann; Fri Madam Butterfly; Sat m Tosca; Sat e Maritana. GTR

w/c Mon 17 Feb Bohème; Tue Tannhauser; Wed Mignon; Thu Cav and Pag; Fri Don GiovanniSat m Tales of Hoffmann; Sat e Trovatore. GTR

w/c Mon 24 Feb Carmen; Tue Rigoletto; Wed Carmen; Thu Faust; Fri Tannhauser; Sat m Madam Butterfly; Sat e Bohemian Girl. GTR

w/c Mon 3 Mar Company performing in Liverpool

w/c Mon 10 Mar Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Tosca  ; Wed Faust; Thu Madam Butterfly; Fri Don Giovanni; Sat m Cav and Pag; Sat e Maritana. ERL

w/c Mon 17 Mar Tosca; Tue Tales of Hoffmann; Wed Tannhauser; Thu Bohème; Fri Carmen; Sat m Mignon; Sat e Trovatore; ERL

w/c Mon 30 Jun Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Carmen; Wed Mignon; Thu Cav and Pag; Fri Three Masks; Sat m Madam Butterfly; Sat e Faust GTR

w/c Mon 7 Jul Three Masks; Tue Trovatore; Wed Daughter of the Regiment; Thu Carmen; Fri Marriage of Figaro; Sat m Tales of Hoffmann; Sat e Maritana GTR

w/c Mon 1 Dec Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Carmen; Wed Faust; Thu Cav and Pag; Fri Tannhauser; Sat m Romeo and Juliet; Sat e Rigoletto.

w/c Mon 8 Dec Cav and Pag; Tue Trovatore; Wed Romeo and Juliet; Thu Lily of Killarney; Fri Faust; Sat m Traviata; Sat e Tales of Hoffmann.

w/c Mon 15 Dec Carmen; Tue Tannhauser; Wed Maritana; Thu Rigoletto; Fri Romeo and Juliet; Sat m Cavand Pag; Sat e Tales of Hoffmann

 

Thirteen weeks @seven performances = ninety-one

Thirteen Tales of Hoffmann

Eight Carmen; Tannhauser; Faust

Seven; Madam Butterfly; Cav and Pag

Six Mignon

Five Trovatore; Tosca

Four Cav and Pag; Maritana

Three Bohème; Romeo and Juliet

Two Three Masks; Don Giovanni; Rigoletto

One Marriage of Figaro; Daughter of the Regiment; Bohemian Girl; Traviata; Lily of Killarney.

 

The cast for Aberdeen, Monday 20 January, is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library. Partial Dundee casts are compiled from various reviews in the Dundee AdvertiserDundee Courier & Argus and Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post. The December cast details are from a programme in the Gardiner Collection at the Mitchell Library. The only artist known to have appeared in both casts is the young tenor Lovat Crosley.

Performance Cast

Nicklausse Hoffmann's friend

Lena Maitland (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1; Mar 10)

Enid Cruickshank (Dec 13)

Luther an innkeeoer

Tom Hamilton (Jan 20)

Nathaniel a student

Lovat Crosley (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1; Dec 13)

Hermann a student

George Gorst (Jan 20)

William Minette (Dec 13)

Hoffmann a poet

William Boland (Jan 20; Mar 10)

Hughes Macklin (Jan 27; Feb 1)

Parry Jones (Dec 13)

Olympia a doll

Florence Barron (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1; Mar 10)

Alma Vane (Dec 13)

Spalanzani an Italian inventor

Robert Brookes (Jan 20; Mar 10)

Robert Ainsworth (Jan 27; Feb 1)

Mr A J Willard (Dec 13)

Cochenille Spalanzani's servant

George Ashby (Jan 20)

Alphonso McCarthy (Dec 13)

Coppélius a scientist, Spalanzani's rival

Frederick Clendon (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1; Mar 10)

Lewys James (Dec 13)

Antonia Crespel's daughter

Clara Simons (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1; Mar 10)

Kate Campion (Dec 13)

Crespel a councillor of Munich

Frederick Clendon (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1; Mar 10)

Herbert Talbot (Dec 13)

Franz Crespel's servant

John Halliday (Jan 20)

Alphonso McCarthy (Dec 13)

Dr Miracle a doctor

George McDonald (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1)

Hebden Foster (Mar 10)

Lewys James (Dec 13)

Antonia's mother a spirit voice

Gladys Parr (Jan 20)

Esther Yunson (Dec 13)

Giulietta a courtesan

Eva Turner (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1)

Ina Hill (Mar 10)

Gladys Seager (Dec 13)

Schlemil Giulietta's lover

George Gorst (Jan 20)

William Minette (Dec 13)

Pitichinaccio Giulietta's admirer

Lovat Crosley (Jan 20)

Alphonso McCarthy (Dec 13)

Dapertutto a sorcerer

George McDonald (Jan 20, 27; Feb 1)

Hebden Foster (Mar 10)

Lewys James (Dec 13)

Performance DatesTales of Hoffmann 1919

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

20 Jan, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

27 Jan, 19.30 1 Feb, 14.00

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Feb, 19.15 13 Feb, 19.15 22 Feb, 14.00 30 Jun, 19.15 12 Jul, 14.00 1 Dec, 19.15 13 Dec, 19.15 20 Dec, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

10 Mar, 19.30 18 Mar, 19.30

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