Opera Scotland

Faust 1915O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Faust

The Dundee-born bass Wlliam Anderson had enjoyed a very successful career, including tours abroad, but he seems not to have appeared on home turf for some time.

Further performance dates and venues to be confirmed.


Dundee Press Comment

Dundee Advertiser: Thursday, March 18, 1915

O’Mara Opera Co. - Gounod’s Faust

'To-day it seems almost incredible that in its first production in London about 50 years ago Faust was charged with lacking melody. Yet such a charge was made. Familiarity has shown most of us that this opera is from beginning to end one long song. No sooner does one melody end than another begins. The grip that tune has on the great heart of the public was manifest from the increased attendance in the more popular parts of the house. In the more expensive seats such evidence was not so strong.

'The performance taken all over was a very fine one, and in some respects ranks with the best renderings of the opera ever given in Her Majesty's Theatre. Never, for example, have we had a more beautifully artistic representation of the part of Marguerite. The character was played by Miss Florence Morden with a cumulative effect that was most impressive from the idyllic scene where the King of Thulé ballad was touchingly and quietly given to the passionate force of the Trio in the prison. Miss Morden knows the value of restraint, and does not either vocally or histrionically tear a passion to tatters in the effort to be effective. None the less surely her unexaggerated method succeeds in making the desired impressions. All through the Garden Scene she sang with much beauty of voice and tenderness of expression. Her Jewel Song had the proper touch of girlish rapture, while her sense of drama was evident enough at the death of Valentine, and in the contest with Méphistophélès before the church gates. Miss Constance Bower made a good and boyish Siébel though her hat seemed slightly feminine in style. She sang the favourite number “When all was young” with rich and pathetic tone. There was humour in Miss Maud Baker's Martha, an old lady, who, it must be admitted, is sorely put-upon by Méphistophélès.

'Great interest was manifested in the representation of Méphistophélès by Mr William Anderson. This singer is a native of our city, and was making, we believe, his first stage appearance in the part here.  It may be said at once that he is an artist who in the character does Dundee great credit.  Nature has gifted him with a magnificent bass voice, which he knows how to use both in solo and concerted work.  His rich notes come without effort, and afford the keenest delight to the ear. His solos, “The Calf of Gold” and “The Serenade,” were well delivered, but he was even more impressive in the many duets, trios, and quartette, where his opulent voice forms the foundation of the harmony, thus serving to enhance the tones of the other singers.  Mr Anderson has a fine presence, and pictorially was a striking Méphistophélès. He acts well also, though further practice will certainly give him greater freedom of manner. Possibly also, later, he may develop a more lively sense of the sardonic possibilities of the part. At present it seems played just a trifle too solemnly.

'The tenor, Mr William Boland, who was making a first appearance here, has a voice of freshness and power. Such tenor voices are far from common. He was perhaps more successful when energy was required rather than tenderness, but “All hail, thou dwelling” was charmingly given, and there were lovely piano bits in the duets with Marguerite in the Garden. In Valentine Mr William Russell had a more sympathetic part than on Tuesday. He provided a manly and handsome representation, the favourite “Even bravest hearts” was warmly received.

'The chorus sang well in the Kermesse and other scenes, though the effect of the Soldiers' Chorus was rather spoilt by the difference of opinion with regard to pitch displayed by the bands on and off the stage. This, however, is not infrequently a trying point. The orchestral playing in the Garden music was of special excellence. Mr Herbert Ferrers as conductor was watchful and energetic. To-night Miss Morden, Mr Boland, and Mr James appear in Tannhäuser.'


Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post: Thursday, March 18, 1915  (p4)

The O’Mara Opera Company - Faust

'The popular parts of Her Majesty’s Theatre were very well filled last night when the O’Mara Opera Company performed Gounod’s Faust.  Again the freshness and vigour of the company must be highly praised, and Gounod’s opera had a very spirited rendering.  Mr O’Mara has been particularly successful in surrounding himself with capable young principals, who throw their hearts into their work with excellent zest and enthusiasm.  Probably interest was chiefly centred in the appearance of Mr William Anderson as Méphistophélès. His baritone voice is of rare quality, rich in tone, and even throughout its considerable range.  He uses it with the utmost discretion, never losing grip of good tone in the purely declamatory passages and revealing nice tones of tone-colour to express varying moods. There were no meretricious attempts to score points by doubtful artifices, but Mr Anderson paid artistic regard to the music, and he gained all his effects by legitimate methods. His Méphistophélès was a courtly gentleman, with considerable dignity and a pretty sense of sardonic humour. Both “Calf of Gold” song and the Serenade were admirably sung.

'The singing of Miss Florence Morden was a pure delight. Her voice is rather light for Marguerite’s music, but its sweet, pure quality, made most telling by a perfectly easy production, is of captivating beauty. She made a girlish Marguerite, but the tragic role of the later scenes was excellent. The Thulé number and Jewel Song were very good, but her share in the great trio of the last act was thrilling in its intensity of feeling. We look forward with pleasure to Miss Morden’s Elizabeth in Tannhäuser this evening.

'The part of Faust was played by Mr William Boland. He has some good notes in the upper notes of his tenor voice, and, in a characteristic operatic sweep, may be relied upon to achieve effective results. In passionate music he sang with dramatic vigour, but he was less successful when employing his soft quality as in the “Salve Dimora.”  Some of the lyrics which fall to Faust were agreeably sung by him. Miss Constance Bower sang Siébel’s music with true sympathy, and if encores had been allowed, would certainly have been recalled for “When all was young.” Mr William Russell, as Valentine, sang well in “Even bravest hearts,” and realised the death scene, vocally and dramatically, in a satisfactory manner.

'The chorus singing was always vigorous and inspiring. Sometimes the words were not clear, and we have had better and more finished renderings of the Soldiers’ Chorus. The heavenly prayer that concludes the fourth act was a model of soft singing and balanced tone. When will an enterprising stage manager invent an impressive exit for Méphistophélès and Faust? The old way of lowering them down a trap in the midst of red fire was ludicrous, and the later method by which Méphistophélès drags Faust off to the wings by the scruff of the neck is almost as bad. They deserve a more dignified disappearance.'

Performance Cast

Faust a learned doctor

William Boland (Mar 17)

Méphistophélès the devil

William Anderson (Mar 17)

Valentin Marguerite's brother

William Russell (Mar 17)


Florence Morden (Mar 17)

Siébel a student of Dr Faust, in love with Marguerite

Constance Bower (Mar 17)

Marthe a neighbour

Maud Baker (Mar 17)

Performance DatesFaust 1915

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

17 Mar, 19.15

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