Opera Scotland

Carmen 1912Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Carmen

The production was reviewed in the Aberdeen Press and Journal (5 February), and some comments on the week as a whole were given.

There were further reviews in the Dundee Advertiser, the Dundee Courier & Argus and the Scotsman.


The Aberdeen Perspective

Aberdeen Press & Journal:  Monday, 5 February 1912  (p6)

Carl Rosa Opera Company - Closing Reflections

'Reflections on last week's operatic performances are, on the whole, of a most satisfactory and gratifying nature.  It would have been difficult to have made a better selection, embracing, as it did, representative examples of almost every school of operatic writing.  Practically three of the operas were in the nature of novelties to Aberdeen, and so long as they are well and adequately advised, the musical curiosity of our opera habitués is a fairly safe thing to reckon on.  The remaining four operas down for performances were works which, regarded from the box office and the public point of view, are generally considered as eminently safe.

'The performances, as a whole, were of a high standard - in one or two instances almost superlatively so.  The principals, though not including any star of dazzling brilliance, were almost invariably artistes of sterling attainments, and the general equality of the casts was a point that deserves special commendation. The chorus, which we always regard as a strong point with Carl Rosa, did excellent work. They go about their work in a whole-hearted fashion, as if they really enjoyed it, and on one or two occasions attained a choral excellence as convincing as it was brillliant.

'The leading feature of the week was undoubtedly the orchestra.  The leaders in their various departments are all orchestral players of first rank;  the quality of the winds and brass will bear comparison with the highest standards, and the principal strings were not a whit behind.  In this respect, we cannot refrain from mentioning the name of the assistant conductor and principal first violin, Mr R Mackenzie,  whose confident and brilliant playing marks him out as a leader of unusual ability, whose work contributed in no small degree to the advanced standard of the orchestral ensemble."

'A word should be given to Miss Annie Elliott, the principal dancer, and her accomplished assistants.  Ballet in grand opera is often a very tedious business, but the charming elegance and terpsichorean ability of Miss Elliott made the bllets in the various operas a genuine artistic success.

'The performance of Carmen was noteworthy in the appearance of Miss Phyllis Archibald and Mr Hedmont as Carmen and Don José respectively.  Miss Archibald's delineation of the bewitching and fascinating  gipsy coquette was a piece of excellent dramatic characterisation.  Lacking perhaps in that element of heartless devilry that is sometimes made so aggressive by exponents of this part,  Miss Archibald's reading was full of abandon and entrancing wantonness, and in the last scene with Don José her acting was most convincing in its dramatic intensity.  Her voice, a rich mezzo of strikingly expressive quality and big compass,  which she uses with all the skill of a finished artist, was heard to fine advantage in the ''Habanera'' and the sparkling ''Bohemian Canzonet.''  Miss Madoline Spicer made a charming Micaëla.  Possessing a pure though not very big sopranao voice of excellent quality, her singing and acting throughout were in every way enjoyable. 

'In Mr Hedmondt's Don José we had further evidence of his undoubtedly great gifts as an operatic artist.  His dramatic conception was all that we look for from Mr Hedmondt (and that is saying a great deal), and his rare vocal artistry was amply demonstrated in his rendering of the famous ''Flower Song.''  The Escamillo of Mr Felix Fleischer was a picturesque and dashing dramatic characterisation, but vocally he was not so satisfactory.  He was apparently suffering from cold, which probably explains the lack of resonance in his voice, and in one instance at least, a certain doubtfulness in his intonation.

'The parts of Frasquita and Mercedes were admirably interpreted by Miss Winifred Geverding and Miss Lilian Matthews, who gave evidence of capital vocal ability and real dramatic weight.  The other parts were in the capable hands of Messrs O'Connor,  Austin,  Schofield,  Clendon, and Fenton.  

'The chorus sang with real verve and spirit, the ladies particularly distingushing themselves in the ''Cigarette Girls' Chorus'', which was most effectively treated.  In some of the later choral numbers the excessive tempo made distinct articulation almost impossible, besides detracting from the full vocal tone which the music demanded.  The orchestra found in Bizet's brilliant and delightful scoring a distinctly grateful task,  and their work was throughout quite up to the high standard we have learned to expect from them.

'Mr Van Noorden conducted in his characteristically able fashion.'

"The orchestra found in Bizet's brilliant and delightful scoring a distinctly grateful task, and their work throughout was quite up to the high standard we have learned to expect from them.  Mr Van Noorden conducted in his characteristically able fashion.

The schedule for the Aberdeen visit commencing 29 January was: Mon Mignon; Tue Tannhäuser; Wed Merry Wives of Windsor; Thu Faust; Fri Queen of Sheba; Sat mat Carmen; Sat eve Trovatore. The company moved south to Dundee the following week, with the same operas, though played in a different order. The one exception was Merry Wives, which was replaced by Cav & Pag.

The cast for the Saturday matinee of Carmen is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library, with details of the following Tuesday's performance confirmed from the Dundee Courier & Argus.


Dundee Reviews

Dundee Advertiser: Thursday, February 8, 1912

Carl Rosa Opera - Bizet's Carmen

'So brisk and moving is the story of Carmen, so picturesque the Spanish costumes, and so instinct with vivacity the score, that even a moderately good rendering never fails to please. With a Don Jose like Mr E C Hedmondt and a company of such all-round excellence as the Carl Rosa, it may be guessed that the artistic and popular results were last night large.

'Miss Phyllis Archibald, a young and promising artist, was a capable Carmen, considered vocally or histrionically.  She coloured the part vividly, and sang with charm, the “Habanera” being a special feature.  As Michaela, Miss Madoline Spicer made a first appearance and displayed a sweet and pleasing voice.  Mr Felix Fleischer, who also was singing for the first time, produces a powerful tone, and won the usual encore for the Toreador's song.  In Don José, Mr Hedmondt has one of his finest roles.  He realises all the possibilities of the character as few others can, while the genuine tenor ring of his voice gives the utmost pleasure.  The other parts and the band and chorus were thoroughly satisfactory.'

(The remainder of the column was devoted to a synopsis of the plot of The Queen of Sheba).


Dundee Courier & Argus: Thursday, February 8, 1912

The Carl Rosa Opera Company - Bizet’s Carmen

 'The audience at Her Majesty’s Theatre last night showed a distinct improvement; still, the house was far from what it ought to have been.

'Bizet’s Carmen is a work of many and varied attractions.  Its story is intense and absorbing, if not elevating, its locale gives scope for picturesqueness of scene and costume, and the music is a perpetual joy and delight.  The score teems with melody and glows with colour; every movement has its own rhythmic beauty and charm.  The brilliant overture, with its irresistible tunefulness and its vigour and dash, gives a magnificent start to the opera, the interest in which culminates in the final scene. The “Toreador’s Song”, the “Flower Song” for Don José, Micaëla’s beautiful ballad, Carmen’s “Habanera” and “Close by the ramparts of Seville”, the tripping Quintette in the second act, and the “Fortune-Telling” Trio in the third act are the most popular and most beautiful of the numbers.

'Last night’s performance was most excellent, and well maintained the high standard reached in Faust on the previous evening.  The Carmen of Miss Phyllis Archibald was a most interesting and attractive performance.  Vocally she did exceedingly well, and her acting was effective, if not quite so passionate and unreserved as we have known.  The fine “Habanera” was sung with admirable point, and Miss Archibald’s singing throughout showed first-rate quality of voice and of style.  Miss Madoline Spicer made, as Micaëla, the gentle, pure-minded lover of Don José, her first appearance for the week.  She suited the part admirably, looking charming and singing with much sweetness and grace.  In the duet in the first act she sang delightfully.

'Mr Hedmondt, even after his hard work on the previous evening, made a magnificent Don Jose.  His acting was superb, and it is impossible to imagine a more dramatic rendering of the character. he sang with his unfailing art, and made the very most of the beautiful “Flower Song”, and in the concerted music he sang grandly.  Mr Felix Fleischer, who also made his first appearance for the week, was the Escamillo of the cast.  He has a robust and resonant baritone voice, under excellent command, and his pronunciation was so good as to be a lesson to some whose native language is English.  The “Toreador Song” was enthusiastically and deservedly encored, and in the scenes with Carmen Mr Fleischer acted with appropriate warmth and vigour.

'Miss Winifred Geverding as Frasquita and Miss Lilian Matthews as Mercédès sang prettily in the “Fortune-Telling” trio, and Mr H Schofield displayed a pretty voice in the small part of Moralès.  Those amusing rascals, Don Cairo and Remendado, were humorously represented by Mr Frederick Clendon and Mr William O’Connor.  The chorus was unusually good last night. Some of their singing in the first act was notably careful and finished.  The band, too, was on its best behaviour, and under Mr Van Noorden’s watchful eye and inspiring beat did ample justice to the picturesque orchestration.  The dancers, too, had more than usual to do, and they did it very well.

'To-night the familiar Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci will be played with fine casts.  In the former we are to be introduced to a new soprano, Miss Helene Stylianides, a Greek dramatic soprano of much excellence, who will appear as Santuzza.  Miss Lawson Taylor as Lola, Miss Douglas Wilson as Lucia, Mr Charles Neville as Turiddu and Mr Leslie Austin as Alfio complete the cast.  In Pagliacci Miss Elizabeth Burgess will be the Nedda, Mr E C Hedmondt the Canio, Mr Hebden Foster the Tonio, and Mr Leslie Austin the Silvio.  These two operas are the most modern in this week’s programme, and it was in Cavalleria Rusticana that the Carl Rosa Opera Company gave one of the grandest performances ever enjoyed in Dundee.  These are reasons why to-night Her Majesty’s Theatre should be full.'


And Edinburgh

Scotsman:  Wednesday, 14 February 1912  (p8)

Bizet's Carmen

'An enjoyable performance  was given last night of Bizet's opera of Carmen,  which, amid many competitors, still retains a strong hold on popular favour.  Fresh interest was given to the opera by the appearance of a new Carmen in the person of Miss Phyllis Archibald, a lady who has been heard before in the same company, but in smaller parts, such as Siebel in Faust.

'Since her debut on the operatic stage eighteen months ago, Miss Archibald has made rapid progress in her art;  and her performance of Carmen last night was both vocally and dramatically eminently satisfactory.  She had no new reading of the part to submit - that would be rather difficult at this time of day - still her representation of the untramelled, fascinating gipsy girl of Seville thoroughly interested the large audience.

'She looked the rôle, and interpreted its passionate outburst of love and hate and scorn with appropriate realistic force, without over-stepping the bounds of art.  As a singer she is gifted with a cultured mezzo voice of good quality, and her singing of the showy Habanera and the other numbers was well received.  With more experience,  Miss Archibald should improve upon her interesting performance of last night.

'The Don José was Mr E C Hedmondt, rejuvenated in voice and full of physiical energy.  He acted with his usual fervour - a quality indispensable in this rôle - and his singing was admirable, especially his impassioned appeal to Carmen in the second act, a number which was loudly applauded.  The second act, set in the tavern of Lilias Pastia, was certainly the best of the four of the opera, for here, too, a new Escamillo was introduced - Mr Felix Fleischer (from the Stadt Theatre, Bremen), a vocalist with a well-trained baritone voice of good range and agreeable quality, and to his rendering of the Toreador song the usual encore was accorded.  He should be a serviceable addition to the company.

'Miss Madoline Spicer, another new member of the company, was Micaëla.  She is a young singer, with a light and pleasing soprano voice, who made a promising appearance.  Miss Winifred Geverding, as Frasquita, and Miss Lilian Matthews, as Mecedes, sang the carol duet prettily;  Mr Frederick Clendon as Dancairo and Mr Leslie Austin as the captain of dragoons also deserve notice.

'The chorus sang with abundant power, and the orchestra gave a good account of the instrumental music.  Mr Walter Van Noorden was conductor.'


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

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Mr H Schofield (Feb 3 m, 7)

Micaëla a peasant girl

Madoline Spicer (Feb 3 m, 7, 13)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Charles Hedmondt (Feb 3 m, 7, 13)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Leslie Austin (Feb 3 m, 7, 13)

Carmen a gypsy

Phyllis Archibald (Feb 3 m, 7, 13)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Winifred Geverding (Feb 3 m, 7, 13)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Lilian Matthews (Feb 3 m, 7, 13)

Lillas Pastia an innkeeper

Albert Fenton (Feb 3 m, 7)

Escamillo a toreador

Felix Fleischer (Feb 3 m, 7, 13)

Dancaïre a smuggler

Frederick Clendon (Feb 3 m, 7, 13)

Remendado a smuggler

William O'Connor (Feb 3 m, 7)

Performance DatesCarmen 1912

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

3 Feb, 14.00

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

7 Feb, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

13 Feb, 19.30

Grand Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

16 Mar, 14.00

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