Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1912Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

Chosen to fill Tuesday evening in Aberdeen and the Saturday matinee slot in Dundee, Tannhäuser was clearly a piece with which the company was comfortable performing on minimal rehearsal time. The two prima donnas were both new, and neither would return, though they each played a second leading role on this visit. The singer in the title character was repeating a part he had done the previous year with Moody-Manners.

The complete cast is from a programme in the Aberdeen City Library, supported by a review in the Press & Journal.

The Dundee performance being a Saturday matinee, no critics attended, but the principals are as listed in advertisement.  In Edinburgh, though also a matinee, it was the middle of the two-week visit, so the performance was reviewed, though only the four leading singers were identified (not even Wolfram), as the evening performance of Faust also needed space to be covered.


Historical Introduction

Aberdeen Press & Journal: Tuesday, 30 January 1912  (p4)

The Carl Rosa Opera Company - Story of Tannhäuser

'Tannhäuser, the hero of to-night's opera at His Majesty's Theatre, was a figure of the 13th century and lived for a time at the court of Frederick II (Austria).  He was of a restless nature, and after dissipating his fortune, spent much of his time drifting aimlessly about Germany.  It is this fact which causes him to be idendified in the popular mind with the knight Tannhäuser, who, after many wanderings, came to the Venusberg, or Horselberg, near Eisenach.  He enters the cave where the Lady Venus -  Frau Hulde as she is known in German folklore - holds her court, and enters upon a life of luxury and ease.  His better nature re-asserts itself, and, obtaining permission to return, for a time, to the world beyond, he embarks on a pilgrimage to Rome,  and there entreats Pope Noban to secure for him the absolution of his sins.  This request the Pope refuses, and states that it is just as impossible for Tannhäuser to obtain forgiveness of his sins as it would be for the staff he (the Pope) bears in his hand to blossom.

'In black despair Tannhäuser returns to take up the broken threads of his life in the Venusberg.


An Aberdeen Review

Aberdeen Press & Journal:  Wednesday, 31 January 1912  (p4)

Carl Rosa Company - Tannhäuser

'To the keen opera-lover, not the opera-goer,  who finds in a single hearing of a masterpiece complete satisfaction, we mean the habitué who goes repeatedly to hear his favourite works,  one of the great joys, and one of the most helpful things in genuine musical appreciation and discrimination, is the habit of comparing the conception, vocally and dramatically, of different artistes who appear in principal parts.  'In the case of Tannhäuser, a comparatively recent grand opera devotee has had this distinctly valuable opportunity in the various performances of this opera given in Aberdeen during recent years.

'Comparisons, they say, are odious.  This is, however but a half-truth;  it depends entirely on the point of view.   To the one party it is an advantage; to the other disadvantage.  To the ardent opera-goer present at last evening's performance at His Majesty's Theatre, there was much food for reflection in this attitude of mind, which, however disagreeable at times it may seem, is nevertheless inevitable,

'The performance last evening did not attain that high standard which we look for from the Carl Rosa Opera Company,  and in general effect was distinctly below the standard of at least one or two performances given in Aberdeen within comparatively recent years.  True, there were redeeming features, but one or two swallows do not make a summer, and one or two good features in a performance of grand opera do not necessarily make that performance a good one.

'From the really capital rendering which Mr Goossens secured - for beyond a slight and but temporary raggedness and untunefulness in the strings,  there was little to criticise and certainly much to praise - we anticipated a performance thoroughly in keeping with the company's usual high artistic standard.  But our hopes and expectations were far from being fully realised, either by principals or chorus, and the performance had not proceeded far before we were, musically speaking, in a distinctly depressed and disappointed state of mind.   Feelings of real enthusiasm and admiration were but temporary and of brief duration.

'The first cause of these welcome feelings of exultation was, as we have previously stated, the work of the orchestra, more particularly in the Overture.   Afterwards we must place that admirable artiste, Mr Arthur Winckworth,  whose conception of the Landgrave was one of the finest we have heard,  either in London or the provinces.  The possessor of a glorious voice, perfectly under control,  Mr Winckworth has the true artistic temperament, and, in addition, that subtle and indefinable gift of creating for himself, in every part he essays just the right atmosphere,  the mood, or whatever we like to call it,  which gives to all his work a convincing reality.

'The Tannhäuser of the evening was Mr Franz Christian, a tenor, who has, believe, not before been heard in Aberdeen.  The part of Tannhäuser requires a tenor of heroic qualities, particularly as regards voice,  and Mr Christian certainly cannot claim this quality.  Of temperament and genuine dramatic gifts he has any amount, but it is not always well directed, and in many of the big situations, despite his hard work - for he is a hard-working artiste - he was completely overweighted.  His best effort was in the last act with Wolfram where, in the rendering of Tannhäuser's journey,  one of the finest things in the whole opera,  his command of expressive vocal colour,  a subtle characterisation of its various moods,  made this scene one of the really good things of the performance.

'Madame Marianne de Kleno,  another artiste new to Aberdeen,  was responsible for the important part of Elizabeth.  Her rendering, both from a vocal and dramatic point of view,  did not compel our enthusiasm.  She has a voice of good range, but somewhat lacking in that natural expressive quality, and her characterisation of the part of Elizabeth was marred by an artificial theatricality. Her singing of the prayer was perhaps her best effort,  and but for a slight tendency in the excessive use of the portamento was a thoroughly commendable piece of work.

'It may be a kind of insular prejudice on our part, but when opera is sung in English we prefer it to be in English and not broken English as was the case on several occasions last evening.  The Wolfram of Mr Hebden Foster was inclined to a lugubrity which we cannot believe is the actual mood Wagner indicated.  Wolfram is a big, noble-hearted man, full of strong human sympathy for Elizabeth and Tannhäuser, but lugubrity is hardly a characteristic we should apply to him.

'In the last scene with Tannhäuser we saw more of the real Wolfram, and the familiar ''O Star of Eve'' was rendered in a thoroughly artistic manner.   The character of Venus was, on the whole, creditably sustained by Miss Helene Stylianides.  Other parts of minor import were in the capable hands of Mr  O'Connor,  Fenton,  Miller Reid,  and Lansdale,  Miss Lawson Taylor being responsible for the part of the Shepherd Boy.

'The chorus work was unequal.  Some of the ''off'' choruses for ladies' voices in the Venus scene were exquisitely rendered, but in other parts of the work there was at times a tendency to untunefulness and in the big chorus in the Tournament of Song there was an unfortunate raggedness of attack.  Of the popular ''Pilgrims' Chorus'' a much better account was given.

'Mr Eugene Goossens discharged the arduous and responsible duties of conductor in a thoroughly capable fashion.

'The audience was again a large one.'


An Edinburgh View

Scotsman:  Monday, 19 February 1912, (p6)

The Carl Rosa Opera Company

'Tannhäuser is one of the operas that can be counted upon in any circumstances to attract an audience.  It was chosen for Saturday's matinee at the King's Theatre;  and in spite of the mildest and most spring-like day of the year, a large audience assembled to hear the Carl Rosa Company's rendering.  The performance was of a thoroughly satisfying and impressive character.

'Mr E C Hedmondt filled the principal part in a way that secured hearty approbation.  His acting was marked with fervour and convincing effect; and he sang robustly throughout.  Mr Arthur Winckworth's rich bass voice was displayed attractively in the part of the Landgrave.  Miss Helene Stylianides' singing of the Venus music was cordially appreciated, her voice having a fine resonant quality, and considerable verve being imparted to her acting.   Miss Marianne de Kleno gave a dignified and pleasing rendering of the part of Elizabeth, singing with power axpression.  The other parts were capably filled.

'The performance as a whole was well balanced.  The Hall of Song scene was rendered with massive effect.  The orchestra, under the direction of Mr Eugene Goossens, played satisfactorily, their rendering of the overture and the orchestration of the Hall of Song music bearing distinction.' 


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


Hélène Stylianides (Jan 30; Feb 10 m, 17 m)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

Franz Christian (Jan 30; Feb 10 m)

Charles Hedmondt (Feb 17 m)

Shepherd boy

Dorothy Lawson-Taylor (Jan 30)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

Hebden Foster (Jan 30)

Felix Fleischer (Feb 10 m)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

Arthur Winckworth (Jan 30; Feb 10 m, 17 m)

Walther von der Vogelweide a knight and minnesinger

William O'Connor (Jan 30)

Heinrich der Schreiber a knight and minnesinger

Albert Fenton (Jan 30)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

Miller Reid (Jan 30)

Reinmar von Zweter a knight and minnesinger

Samuel Lansdale (Jan 30)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Marianne de Kleno (Jan 30; Feb 10 m, 17 m)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1912

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

30 Jan, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

10 Feb, 14.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

17 Feb, 14.00

Grand Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

4 Mar, 19.30

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