Opera Scotland

Faust 1912Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Faust

It is difficult to avoid the idea that any performance of Faust by this time must have been nearly stifled by a sense of routine. However, it is clear that audiences continued to enjoy it. 

Even Messrs Hedmondt and Winckworth, who had been singing these roles for two decades, must have been kept on their toes by the arrival of new faces, in this case the soprano Ina Hill and American mezzo Claude Albright.

Schedule

The Carl Rosa schedule in Dundee for the week commencing 5 February was: Mon Mignon; Tue Faust; Wed Carmen; Thu Cav & Pag; Fri Queen of Sheba; Sat mat Tannhäuser; Sat eve Trovatore. The previous week in Aberdeen had carried the same repertoire but for another rarity, Nicolai's Merry Wives appearing instead of Cav & Pag.

Sources

The cast details are taken from a programme in Aberdeen City Library and from reviews in the Dundee Advertiser and Dundee Courier.

 

Aberdeen Opinion

Aberdeen Press & Journal:  Friday, 2 February  (p4)

Carl Rosa Company Faust

'Of the many settings of Goethe's great and soul-stirring drama, some by composers who occupy a distinctly higher plane in the musical firmament than the position awarded to Gounod, none have secured such a grip on the affection of the general musical public as the setting by Gounod.   

A man of strong emotional temperament, whose whole career seemed to hover between mysticism and voluptuousness, possessed of deep religious instincts, and, withal, somewhat of a luxury-loving courtesan, opposite characteristics so often found in the keenly temperamental constitution, this great story of human love and passion appealed strongly to one constituted like Gounod, and given such a combination of circumstances the result is bound to be a production of convincing forcefulness which cannot fail to find a ready response in the musical minds of all who hear it.

''To modern ears some of the music may appear commonplace and conventional, but the convincing sincerity of the work as a whole completely overshadows their weaker moments, which undoubtedly exist, amd it stands to-day one of the most beautiful lyric dramas in the whole range of operatic writing, and there are few, if any operas, even in these days of advanced musical progress that have achieved such a world-wide and lasting popularity.

'The performance last evening was one of general excellence throughout, and this applies to the work of principals, chorus, and orchestra alike. Of the principals we may safely say that in no previous performance in Aberdeen in recent years do we remember a cast in which the parts were so evenly balanced and so well apportioned.

'Miss Ina Hill, whose expressive and refined vocal style we have already had occasion to speak of this week, found in the role of Marguerite a part eminently adapted to her singularly sympathetic style. Her conception of the youthful and guileless Marguerite was characterised by a restraint and reserve that, in our opinion, was a distinct improvement on the artificial theatricality that is so evident in many conceptions of this important part.  The ballad of Thule was sung with a charming and simple naiveté, and of the famous Jewel Song she gave a brilliant rendering. Only in the finale was there evidence of a lack of power, which was almost atoned for in the impassioned forcefulness of her acting.

'Undoubtedly one of the interesting features of the production was the appearance of Mr Hedmondt in that part beloved of all operatic tenors, Faust. Mr Hedmondt has, in a long and honourable career, made for himself a high reputation in the operatic world. Possessed of great vocal gifts allied to histrionic attainment of an equally high order, he has done magnificent work, and it speaks volumes for his artistic vocal method that the passing of the years should show so little evidence of impaired powers vocally or dramatically. The opening scene revealed his subtle artistry, and along with Mr Winckworth, who as Mephistopheles was a tower of strength, this scene was one of the most convincing performsnces we have heard for a long time. Mr Hedmondt's rendering of the lovely ''All Hail, thou Pure and Lowly Dwelling,'' was an excellent example of artistic vocalisation, and in the Garden Scene his work was characterised by an emotional intensity that compelled enthusiasm.

'The Mephisto of Mr Winckworth was throughout an excellent piece of work. and gave further evidence not only of his comprehensive gifts as one of the most accomplished artistes of the Carl Rosa Company, but also of his extreme versatility. His reading never approached that exaggerated buffoonery that is sometimes associated with the character of Mephisto. He was sardonic at times, diabolically humorous, and his singing of the well-known Serenade was replete with a grim and devilish humour, and vocally was an excellent piece of declamation.

'In the part of Valentine Mr Hebden Foster gave us a rendering that was appealing to the best traditions, and his work throughout calls for hearty commendation. In the cavatina ''Even bravest hearts,'' which Gounod specially wrote for Santley in the London production of the opera, he displayed his fine expressive baritone voice to full advantage, and in the death scene he displayed a real intensity of dramatic characterisation.

'The two popular numbers that are allotted to Siebel were in the safe hands of Miss Claude Allbright who, to a voice of first-rate quality, adds a genuine dramatic insight which made her rendering a thoroughly efficient and enjoyable one. The character of the garrulous and easily imposed-on Martha was realised to the full by Miss Douglas Wilson, and the small part of Wagner was capably filled by Mr Miller Reid.

'The chorus work reached a high level of excellence. The Kermesse Scene was given with irresistible verve and spirit, and the Soldiers' Chorus called forth a perfect ovation, which was well deserved. There were some exquisite pianissimo effects, notably the chorus in the death scene, and the chorus work behind the scenes often       by great risks in the matter of intonation, was thoroughly satisfactory.

'In Gounod's orchestration, so full of rich variety, the orchestra, under the skilful guidance of Mr Goossens, had a thankful task, and their work was quite up to the high standard of previous performances.

'We would strongly advise the lowering of the lights during the playing of the overture. In grand opera the overture is an integral part of the whole scheme, and has often, if not invariably, a closely related significance to the opening scene, but so long as the lights are up a large section of the audience do not seem to realise this, and the result is an accompanilment of conversation, to say nothing of late comers, which distracts greatly from the enjoyment of those who are desirous of hearing the opera as a complete whole.'

 

Dundee Reviews

Dundee Advertiser: Wednesday, February 7, 1912

Carl Rosa Opera - Faust

 'The performance of Mignon on Monday was exceedingly good, but it was altogether dwarfed by the splendid representation of Gounod's Faust given last night. Just as the story of Faust is concerned with deeper problems and graver than that of Mignon, so the performers were in it infinitely more impressive than in the last-named work.  The score of Gounod's opera also offers greater scope to the singers, and the singers, as is generally the case at such opportunities, rose to the occasion.

'Miss Ina Hill was little less than an ideal Marguerite.  In face and figure she seems specially formed for the part, and the fresh and pure quality of her vocal tones fits to a shade the many apparently simple and unstudied phrases that Gounod has written for his heroine in the earlier acts.  Very artistic was Miss Hill's unfolding of the character; and as troubles deepened so her notes acquired a more poignant or forceful character, till in the final trio in the prison scene she sang with a power that, judging from her first recitative, one would have thought beyond her reach.  Some of the music of Siébel seems just a trifle high for Miss Claude Albright. Nevertheless this young and promising singer acted with intelligence and care; and her singing of “When all was young” was both good in tone and pathetic in character.  Miss Douglas Wilson produced a very natural sketch of the easily hood-winked Martha.

'Chief among the male singers must be placed Mr E C Hedmondt, who made one of the finest Fausts who have appeared on our local stage.  With the utmost art he uses his voice which the passing years seem unable to impair.  It is astonishing to hear from a singer of such experience tones of pure tenor quality so rich and clear.  In his search after the finest of notes Mr Hedmondt sometimes does violence to his vowels; but this is the sole fault that need be imputed to him.  Mr Hedmondt is, we believe, to play in Carmen to-night, and as Don Jose is one of his best parts, theatre-goers have a treat in store.  Mr Arthur Winckworth's reading of Méphistophélès differs a little from what has been customary here in recent years.  He makes the fiend a rather sober-minded individual intent on doing business.  The sardonic elements in the character are not unduly emphasised as, sometimes, they may perhaps have been.  This lends an even added impressiveness to Goethe's great drama.  For the rest, Mr Winckworth's telling bass was heard to much advantage in both solo and concerted work.  What might be termed the bargaining duet with Mr Hedmondt in the first act was rich with splendid tones on both sides.  If jute contracts could be so concluded, how musical a spot would be Albert Square on a Tuesday afternoon!  Valentine, on account of “Even bravest heart” and the Death Scene, is a role demanding an accomplished artist and singer.  Mr Hebden Foster fulfilled the necessary conditions, and excited unstinted admiration both for his full baritone, which is specially good in its highest range, and for his manly and cultured style.

The chorus sang spiritedly, and picturesquely filled the stage.  The local instrumental contingent, however, endangered somewhat the popular Soldiers' Chorus.  There was some graceful dancing, especially by the première danseuse.  The band, under Mr Eugene Goossens, played with admirable sympathy and tact.  Altogether the performance was one that will not soon be forgotten; or - it may be ventured - rivalled.'

 

Dundee Courier & Argus: Wednesday, February 7, 1912

Carl Rosa Opera Company in Gounod’s Faust

 'Few, if any, better performances of Gounod’s Faust have been given in Dundee than that of last night, and many inferior ones have been played to much greater audiences.  This is much to be regretted, and we can heartily assure those who were not present that they missed a treat.

'Maybe Faust is out of date, not sufficiently advanced for the Dundee public.  It is, of course, an opera of the old school, and its absorbing plot, with its human and fiendish interest, its wealth of melody, and its richness of orchestration, will never allow it to die.  A critic, writing recently, expressed the wish that he could hear Faust again for the first time - and those who missed hearing it last night for the first time will probably live to regret it, for it is seldom that so grand a performance is given in the provinces.

'But those who were in the Theatre last night enjoyed themselves to the full.  Time and again the progress of events was stopped by the heartiness of the applause, and although only the “Soldiers’ Chorus” was encored the performance might have been prolonged till midnight had the audience had its way and not Mr Goossens his.

'First mention must be made of Miss Ina Hill, who as Marguerite immensely enhanced the favourable impression she made on Monday evening, and her performance proved her to be one of the very best of English-speaking Marguerites.  Miss Hill was in better voice than on Monday, and in the earlier scenes she made frequent use of the mezza voce style of singing, wisely saving her strength for the brilliant “Jewel Song” and for the tremendous part she takes in the final scene.  The sweet, pure quality of her voice was heard to great advantage in “The King of Thulé” ballad, and in the latter part of the “Garden Scene” she sang with exquisite expressiveness and charm.  Her voice in the final scene soared above tenor and baritone and band with superb effect.  Her acting, too, was appropriately girlish in the early scenes, and as appropriately tragic later on.

'Mr E C Hedmondt made a splendid Faust, and proved himself once more to be a consummate artist.  His voice is not so equal in quality as it used to be, but his matchless skill in production enabled him to make the very most of his part.  His falsetto voice is most cleverly managed, and in the first scene he got quite an appropriately elderly quality into his singing.  His “All hail, thou dwelling pure and lowly” was beautifully phrased, and in the duet passages with Marguerite he sang with tender passion.  His acting was easy, gallant, and convincing.

'Mr Hebden Foster, a new baritone, made a most happy first appearance here as Valentine.  His voice is of great range, and, while the audience hugely enjoyed his “Even bravest heart”, his singing was better still in the trio with Faust and Mephistopheles, and his treatment of his death scene, both vocally and dramatically, was telling in the extreme.  Mr Arthur Winckworth’s Méphistophélès was a performance of much excellence.  He sang his music, notably the mocking Serenade, with fine breadth and force, and his acting was particularly good in the comic scenes with Martha, who had a cleverly humorous representative in Miss Douglas Wilson.  Miss Claude Albright made a dashing Siébel, and sang her two songs to the delight of the house.

'The choruses went splendidly, the soft passages after Valentine’s death being particularly well done.  The “Soldiers’ Chorus” in which the band on stage displayed some truculence, was warmly encored.  The band, admirably kept in hand by Mr Goossens, played delightfully, and special mention must be made of the fine organ, most effectively used in the church and final scenes.  A dancing troupe of six ladies did excellent service, the leader, Miss Annie Elliot, showing much agility and grace, and great power of toe-work.

'To-night’s opera is Carmen, in which two of the principals will make their first appearance for the week.  Miss Phyllis Archibald, who appeared as Frederick on Monday evening, will take the part of Carmen, and Miss Madoline Spicer, an Irish young lady with a charming coloratura voice, will appear as Micaela, the only purely sweet and wholesome character in the story.  Mr Hedmondt, the artistic tenor of last night’s Faust, is cast for Don José, and Mr Felix Fleischer, from the Stadt Theatre, Bremen, who is credited with a fine voice and clear English diction, will be the Escamillo.  Mr Van Noorden will conduct.'

 

An Edinburgh View

Scotsman:  Monday, 19 February 1912 (p6)

The Carl Rosa Opera Company

'In the evening, before a well-filled house, a performance was given of Gounod's opera of Faust, which is one of the ''evergreens'' of operatic repertory.  This fine work had a satisfactory rendering.  The principal parts were in competent hands.  Mr Gordon Thomas was Faust;  Miss Elizabeth Burgess, Margaret;  Mr Winckworth, Mephistopheles;  Mr Hebden Foster, Valentine;  Miss Claude Allbright,  Siebel.

'While all the singing was kept at a high level,  special mention may be made of the fine performance, vocally and dramatically, of Mr Winckworth as Mephistopheles.  The choral work, so important a feature in the opera, was spiritedly and tunefully sung, and the orchestra also did well under Mr Van Noorden..'

 

The Carl Rosa Scottish Tour - 1912

The tour lasted seven weeks:  Aberdeen 1 week (His Majesty's);  Dundee 1 week (Her Majesty's); Edinburgh 2 weeks (King's);  Greenock 1 week (King's);  Glasgow 2 weeks (Theatre Royal).

The thirteen operas performed were: Benedict (Lily of Killarney);  Nicolai (Merry Wives of Windsor); Thomas (Mignon);  Wallace (Maritana); Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Lohengrin);  Verdi (Trovatore); Gounod (Faust);  Goldmark (Queen of Sheba);  Bizet (Carmen);  Boito (Mefistofele); Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana).

The performance schedule was as follows

Aberdeen, w/c 29 January:  Mon 29 Mignon;  Tue 30 Tannhäuser; Wed 31 The Merry Wives of Windsor; Thu 1 Feb Faust; Fri 2 The Queen of Sheba; Sat 3 m Carmen;  Sat 3 e Il trovatore.

Dundee, w/c  5 February:  Mon 5 Mignon;  Tue 6 Faust;  Wed 7 Carmen;  Thu 8 Cav & Pag;  Fri 9 Queen of Sheba;  Sat 10 m Tannhäuser;  Sat 10 e Trovatore

Edinburgh, w/c 12 February:  Mon 12 Mignon;  Tue 13 Carmen;  Wed 14 Trovatore;  Thu 15 Lohengrin;  Fri 16 Queen of Sheba;  Sat 17 m Tannhäuser;  Sat 17 e Faust.

Edinburgh, w/c 19 February:  Mon 19 Cav & Pag;  Tue 20 Mefistofele;  Wed 21 Lily of Killarney;  Thu 22 Merry Wives of Windsor;  Fri 23 Mignon;  Sat 24 m Mefistofele;  Sat 24 e Maritana.

Greenock, w/c 26 February: Mon 26 tbc; Tue 27 tbc;  Wed 28 Trovatore;  Thu 29 Mignon;  Fri 1 March Mefistofele;  Sat 2 m tbc;  Sat 2 e Carmen.

Glasgow, w/c 4 March:  Mon 4 Tannhäuser;  Tue 5 Mefistofele;  Wed 6 Mignon;  Thu 7 Merry Wives of Windsor;  Fri 8 Lohengrin;  Sat 9 m Mefistofele;  Say 9 e Maritana.

Glasgow, w/c 11 March:  Mon 11 Cav & Pag;  Tue 12 Faust;  Wed 13  Queen of Sheba;  Thu 14 Mignon;  Fri 15 Mefistofele;  Sat 16 m Carmen;  Sat 16 e  Trovatore.

Performance Cast

Faust a learned doctor

Charles Hedmondt (Feb 1, 6)

Gordon Thomas (Feb 17 e)

Méphistophélès the devil

Arthur Winckworth (Feb 1, 6, 17 e)

Valentin Marguerite's brother

Hebden Foster (Feb 1, 6, 17 e)

Wagner a student of Dr Faust

Miller Reid (Feb 1, 6)

Marguerite

Ina Hill (Feb 1, 6)

Elizabeth Burgess (Feb 17 e)

Siébel a student of Dr Faust, in love with Marguerite

Claude Albright (Feb 1, 6, 17 e)

Marthe a neighbour

Jean Douglas-Wilson (Feb 1, 6)

Performance DatesFaust 1912

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

1 Feb, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

6 Feb, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

17 Feb, 19.30

Grand Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

12 Mar, 19.30

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