Opera Scotland

Cavalleria Rusticana 1915O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Cavalleria Rusticana

Anna Lindsey was developing into the company's leading dramatic soprano - in a couple of years she would be back singing Isolde.


Dundee Press Comment

(Some sections that apply exclusively to Pagliacci have been transferred).


Dundee Advertiser: Wednesday, March 17, 1915

O’Mara Opera Co. - Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci

'The audience at Her Majesty's Theatre last night was not so large as was that on Monday. In everybody's interest, not forgetting Dundee's, this is to be regretted, as the representations of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci were characterised by some particular excellences.

'These two operas take as their basis human nature in a very elemental state. Infidelity and jealousy are the chief motives, and, in both, intrigue is brought to a violent close by the knife. In Pagliacci the theme is made more agreeable by the introduction of the players and the artistic manner in which it has been set forth by the author. Mascagni's opera, on the other hand, does nothing to blink what is ugly, with the result that only the most thoroughgoing realist can find much in some of the scenes. Turiddu as he is presented in the earlier scenes of Cavalleria Rusticana is a very brute; Alfio is little better, while all the ladies have their own particular offensive weaknesses. But these things are forgotten in the stress of the passionate action, and while the music, which has Southern energy and fire, pulsates on the ear. The composer of Pagliacci has had a fine opportunity for dramatic effect in the play scene with which his opera concludes. Very skilfully has he used it. The lightly elegant dance themes employed greatly intensify by force of contrast the tragic import of what is taking place.

'The Santuzza of Cavalleria was Miss Anna Lindsey. The lady is a dramatic soprano, whose powerful and extensive voice and impassioned style are well suited for tragic roles. Santuzza demands from its representative the ability to express the pity, the fury, the hate, the love generally associated with such parts. Miss Lindsey's Santuzza need not fear comparison with its rendering by contemporary artists.

'It is to the credit of the tenor, Mr Henry Thompson, that his Turiddu was, to begin with, thoroughly repulsive.  He was the passionate, untutored, pig-headed son of the soil to the life.  Later, misfortune or bad luck brought him to his senses, and he became another and a gentler man that almost earned our pity.  Mr Thompson's voice is a fine one and he has plenty of feeling. “See the merry wine is winking” was a commendable effort.  The Alfio of Mr William Russell was also, and rightly, rough and ready (with a word and a blow). He realised the author's intentions, and cracked his whip and sang his song with vigour.  Miss Constance Bower was effective as Lucia, and Miss Nellie Watt sang her flower-song nicely.

'The choral work, including the Easter Hymn, was given with spirit. The female voices in the chorus are exceptionally good, and when employed alone the result is very pleasing.  The orchestration went well, though both it and the choral numbers might not suffer by a larger employment of piano tone.  To-morrow's performance of Faust, with Mr William Anderson, a native of the city, as Méphistophélès, should attract a good house.'


Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post: Wednesday, March 17, 1915   (p4)

The O’Mara Opera Company - Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci

'Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci have a good deal in common as representatives of the modern Italian school of opera.  Both are melodramas of a bloodthirsty order, in which passions rage at a white heat, and the elemental nature of men - and of women too - comes uppermost.  Each tells a sordid story of love, jealousy, and death, but does so with intense conciseness and breathless tension.  The action is rapid, the plot moves with great swiftness, and there is plenty of excitement for those who like to have their feelings thoroughly harrowed.  All of this is reinforced by Mascagni’s and Leoncavallo’s music, which is of the full-blooded, emotional order.  Captivating melodies, stirring choruses, and strong musical scenes and climaxes abound in these operas.  Each of the composers knew what an Italian audience wanted, and did not fail in satisfying the demands of their patrons.

'Life and vigour characterised the performances of these operas by the O’Mara Company last night. What was lacking in elegance of finish was made up for by vividness of rendering.  In spite of a depressingly small audience, principals, chorus, and band threw themselves into their work with great enthusiasm, and each opera throbbed with pulsating life.  The chorus singers are no stage puppets, but live and move, and have their being with natural movement and grace.  They are keenly interested in their work, and their exuberance is hardly a fault, but a virtue for other companies to copy. Nothing but praise is due to their rendering of the Easter Hymn in Cavalleria, and of the swinging opening chorus of Pagliacci.  The band were still too loud at times, and played with greater breadth than delicacy of expression.

'Quite a number of new principals appeared last night for the first time this week, and in every case created a favourable impression. Miss Anna Lindsey, as Santuzza in Cavalleria, played the tragic heroine with much feeling. Her voice has good body of tone, and is of rich quality throughout its range.  An inclination to drag cuts the rhythm out of some of her solos, but she had brilliant moments in declamatory passages, and her share in the Easter Hymn only wanted a touch of exultation to give it thrill.  Miss Nellie Watt sang and acted agreeably as Lola in the former opera.

'The tenor part in Cavalleria is an exacting one.  Turiddu is “rather a bad lot,” and it takes good acting and singing to make the part a palatable one.   Mr Henry Thompson in this part did not spare himself, but played and sang with great fire and zeal. He caught the spirit of Southern passion, but his strongest effects were sometimes obtained at the cost of good vocal tone.   Still, he gave a good account of the Drinking Song, and his farewell to Lucia.   Mr William Russell sang Alfio’s first song in good fashion.

'To-night the opera is Faust, with our townsman, Mr William Anderson, as Méphistophélès.

Performance Cast

Santuzza a village girl

Anna Lindsey (Mar 16)

Mamma Lucia the innkeeper, Turiddu’s mother

Constance Bower (Mar 16)

Alfio the village carter

William Russell (Mar 16)

Turiddu a young soldier

Henry Thompson (Mar 16)

Lola Alfio’s wife

Nellie Watt (Mar 16)

Performance DatesCavalleria Rusticana 1915

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

16 Mar, 19.15

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