Opera Scotland

Carmen 1913Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Carmen

The Scottish leg of the Carl Rosa's 1913 tour opened in Aberdeen with a sure-fire popular hit, in Carmen.  The complete cast is listed at the head of the following morning's Press & Journal review.

Miriam Licette was on the threshold of a great career, but had recently returned home after a period of study in Italy.  The Aberdeen press describes her as ''from the Adriano Theatre, Rome.''

It would be expected that the two Saturday performances in Dundee would not be reviewed as the company would have moved to their next theatre on Sunday, and there would be little commercial gain in giving more free tickets to a critic if they might profitably be sold.

This particular Saturday in Dundee had two extremely popular works that would be expected to sell out - Carmen in the afternoon and The Bohemian Girl at night.

The abbreviated Dundee cast is as advertised on Saturday morning.


The View from the North

Aberdeen Press & Journal:  Tuesday, 21 January 1913  (p4)

Carl Rosa Opera - Brilliant prformances of Bizet's Carmen

'For years it has been customary to speak lightly of English opera, to regard it as a spent force for which there was no hope.  Criticism of that sort could never at any time help matters, and at this time of day it is altogether useless, for the simple reason that it is utterly false.  The pessemists, unfortunately, are still with us in sufficient numbers to be a considerable drag on the heels of progress, but they are not critics so much as strangers to truth.  As a matter of clear fact, English grand opera has never been healthier.  A young Irish impressario has conquered two hemispheres in the space of the last two years with an English opera company;   and now, it is exceedingly gratifying to find the oldest compmy of all, the company whose existence seems likely to be a permanent memorial to Carl Rosa, is here in Aberdeen to give convincing proof of vitality, of the fact that it has found it possible to renew its youth.

'Undoubtedly the most distinctive feature of the Carl Rosa Company's present visit is the promise of two novelties, but wisely, we think, a start was made last night with anold and sure favourite in Bizet's Carmen, an opera which wears wonderfully well considering the fact that it is made of such showy stuff.  It is true the work does not crowd a theatre as in the days of its first performances in Scotland, the days when Mr Durward Lely was Don José, but that it still has a special magnetism of its own was shown by the fairly large audience shown in His Majesty's last evening.

'To begin with, it seemed to be an audience somewhat cold, but the first coldness did not last, did not long resist the appeal of Bizet's picturesque music brilliantly performed as it was.  The orchestra gave a taste of its quality in the attractive and dainty little introduction, and right to the end everything worked smoothly, and almost every beauty point was clearly brought out.  There were times, indeed, when the instrumentalists fell short of perfection, but with the exception of the passages of heavier orchestration, some of which troubled the brasses, the band gave a remarkably good performance.

'Miss Phyllis Archibald was the Carmen, and on the whole she did well.  The part stands to operatic contraltos of a certain type as Hamlet stands to every budding tragedian;  it appeals because its possibilities are almost unlimited.  Miss Archibald, as one of the newest of our Carmens, has to face comparisin with countless others - with her own immediate predecessor Miss Doris Woodall, with Zélie de Lussan,  with the great Maria Gay - and in making any such comparison it is but fair to remember that Miss Archibald's performance, already a considerable achievement, will improve as she goes on.  At present her chief fault is found in overmuch suavity, in a tendency on the part of the performer to substitute winsomeness for witchery.  Carmens should be wild even to savagery;  she should not attract her victims as with a magnet but as with a maelstrom.  But Miss Archibald's interpretation of the part is full of promise, and on occasions, notably in the fatalistic third act, she rises to the heights.

'Last evening's performance, however, was chiefly memorable on account of the magnificent work done by Mr E C Hedmondt.  Time and Wagner have had their wearing and tearing effects on his voice.  The pure beauty of the lyric passages is not so meltingly pure as of old;  the big notes are not so big, and they have lost some of their old rich roundness.  But Mr Hedmondt's voice is still a voice used by a veritable master of art, and time cannot impair the inherent artistic qualities, which keep the veteran right in the forefront, as it were, of the fighting line.  Besides, if nature had never given Mr Hedmondt a singing voice, he might have been an actor of first rank.  We doubt if the part of Don José has ever been as well handled in Aberdeen - except, indeed, when Mr Hedmondt has played it himself, as he so often has done, to the delight of more than one generation of theatre-goers.  His performance remains the same powerfully passionate and extraordinarily vivid presentation.

'Interest was added to the evening's pleasure by the presence of newcomers, and there were no disappointments.  Mr Felix Fleiscer supplied voice and temperament both vigorous enough to suit him admirably for the part of Escamillo.  His rendering of the Toreador song led to the inevitable encore.  Then there was a new Mcaëla in Miss Miriam Licette, who has youth and a voice of pleasing quality as a very efficient equipment for the beginning of her work in opera.  She is undoubtedly a valuable recruit to the Carl Rosa ranks.

'It was especially gratifying to find the details of the performance on a level with the main features.  All the parts, down to the smallest, were well cast, so that such delightful things as the quintet at Lillas Pastia's inn were heard to the fullest advantage.  The chorus, too, sustained a very high standard throughout.

'Mr Walter Van Noorden handled his forces with the sure hand of one for whom the opera has no secrets.

'Wagner's Lohengrin will be given to-night, with a cast which includes Messrs Hedmondt, Winckworth,  Foster, and Clendon,  and Mesdames Hill and Archibald.'


Edinburgh Opinion

Scotsman:  Thursday, 13 February 1913  (p6)

Carmen at the King's Theatre

'A large, but not a very large, audience assembled in the King's Theatre last evening to listen to the performance of an opera with which Edinburgh and the Carl Rosa Company have common associations.  For Mr Carl Rosa was brought up in Edinburgh, and after he blossomed into an impresario, Bizet's Carmen became one of his greatest operatic assets.  Although Adelina Patti rejected the part absolutely,  Madame Marie Roze was able to give it a quality which later singers of the naturalistic school,  Madame Zélie de Lussan leading, ran to death.

'If there was any distinctive merit last night in Miss Phyllis Archibald's presentation of the part of the fierce gipsy woman of Prosper Merimée's imagination, it was in its moderation.  She was a comparatively quiet Carmen.  She sang her music tunefully, and spoke her words clearly, but she did not attempt to dominate the piece.  That, taken with certain scenic innovations, had the effect of diminishing the intensity of the music-drama as we have been accustomed to have it presented.  But in all the essentials Bizet's masterpiece of romantic opera was given with great artistry and praiseworthy finish in every detail.

'The scenery was largely new and was a doubtful improvement upon tradition, especially in the second act.  The work of the orchestra, under the leadership of Mr Van Noorden,  was most praiseworthy; it gave the essential points of the conductor without trenching on the legitimate ground of the vocalist.  In a cast that was in all its members of high merit, special praise should be given to the José of r William Wegener, a dramatic tenor who has shown his qualities in quite a large number of the chief parts during the present visit of the company;  and to Mr Felix Fleischer, who, in the rôle of Escamillo, won the usual recall for the brilliant rendering of the ''Toreador'' song.

'Although minor parts are not easily separable, the Mercedes of Miss Phyllis Davies seemed to stand out with distinction in the female trios.  Other noteworthy parts were the Micaela of Miss Miriam Licette, a clean and trustworthy soprano of the lighter type;  and Mr Frederick Clendon, who combines with a good baritone voice a sense of humorous delivery, that made his Dancairo quite a feature of the play in the second scene.'


Carl Rosa Scottish Tour - 1913

This late winter Scottish season conisisted of seven weeks, each with seven performances.  After a week in Aberdeen (w/c 20 Jan) then one in Dundee (w/c 27 Jan), there followed three in Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre (commencing 3 Feb, 10 Feb, 17 Feb) and two in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal (w/c 24 Feb; 3 Mar).  Two performances originally scheduled of Jewels of the Madonna in Edinburgh were cancelled to allow for more rehearsals.  The operas that replaced them were Mefistofele (20 Feb) and Magic Flute (22 Feb mat)

The sixteen operas performed were by:  Mozart (Don GiovanniZauberflöte);  Benedict (Lily of Killarney);  Balfe (Bohemian Girl);  Thomas (Mignon);  Wallace (Maritana);  Wagner (TannhäuserLohengrin);  Verdi (Trovatore);  Gounod (Faust);  Goldmark (Queen of Sheba);  Boito (Mefistofele);  Bizet (Carmen);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana);  Wolf-Ferrari (Jewels of the Madonna).

The performance schedule was:

Aberdeen, w/c 20 January:  Mon 20 Carmen;  Tue 21 Lohengrin;  Wed 22 Trovatore;  Thu  23 Mefistofele;  Fri 24 Magic Flute;  Sat 25 m Tannhäuser;  Sat 25 e Mignon.

Dundee, w/c  27 January:  Mon 27 Tannhäuser;  Tue 28 Magic Flute;  Wed 29 Mignon;  Thu 30 Trovatore;  Fri 31 Mefistofele;  Sat 1 Feb m Carmen;  Sat 1 Feb e Bohemian Girl.

Edinburgh, w/c 3 February:  Mon 3 Tannhäuser;  Tue 4 Mignon;  Wed 5 Magic Flute;  Thu 6 Trovatore;  Fri 7 Lohengrin;  Sat 8 m Faust;  Sat 8 e Bohemian Girl.

Edinburgh, w/c 10 February:  Mon 10 Magic Flute;  Tue 11 Queen of Sheba;  Wed 12 Carmen;  Thu 13 Maritana;  Fri 14 Magic Flute;  Sat 15 m Mignon;  Sat 15 e Lily of Killarney.

Edinburgh, w/c 17 February:  Mon 17 Cav & Pag;  Tue 18 Don Giovanni;  Wed 19 Faust;  Thu 20 Mefistofele;  Fri 21 Tannhäuser;  Sat 22 m Magic Flute;  Sat 22 e Trovatore.

Glasgow, w/c 24 February:  Mon  24 Magic Flute;  Tue 25 Mignon;  Wed 26 Trovatore;  Thu 27 Cav & Pag;  Fri 28 Jewels of the Madonna;  Sat 1 Mar m Tannhäuser;  Sat 1 Mar e Faust.

Glasgow, w/c  3 March:  Mon 3 Lohengrin;  Tue 4 Jewels of the Madonna;  Wed 5 Magic Flute;  Thu 6 Mignon;  Fri  7 Carmen :  Sat 8 m Jewels of the Madonna;  Sat 8 e Magic Flute.


The Dundee performance, being a Saturday matinee at the end of the visit, was not reviewed in the newspapers, so the four major roles and conductor are as advertised on Saturday morning.

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Maurice Robinson (Jan 20)

Micaëla a peasant girl

Miriam Licette (Jan 20; Feb 1 m, 12)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Charles Hedmondt (Jan 20; Feb 1 m)

William Wegener (Feb 12)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Leslie Austin (Jan 20)

Carmen a gypsy

Phyllis Archibald (Jan 20; Feb 1 m, 12)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Winifred Geverding (Jan 20)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Phyllis Davies (Jan 20; Feb 12)

Lillas Pastia an innkeeper

Albert Felton (Jan 20)

Escamillo a toreador

Felix Fleischer (Jan 20; Feb 1 m, 12)

Dancaïre a smuggler

Frederick Clendon (Jan 20; Feb 12)

Remendado a smuggler

Charles Neville (Jan 20)

Performance DatesCarmen 1913

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

20 Jan, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

1 Feb, 14.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

12 Feb, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

7 Mar, 19.15

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