Opera Scotland

Trovatore 1916O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Trovatore

This week in Dundee by the O'Mara group, starting Monday 28 February 1916, ran as follows: Mon Trovatore; Tue Carmen; Wed Tannhäuser; Thu Butterfly; Fri Huguenots; Sat mat Lucia; Sat eve Faust.  The Meyerbeer and Donizetti were about to disappear from the general repertoire for several decades.

It is an anomaly of the touring schedules at this time that the Carl Rosa company did not travel morth of the central belt, leaving the more northerly regions to O'Mara.  The visits were almost simultaneous, though, and the Rosa team performed Trovatore in Glasgow soon after, on 9 March.

Cast details are from the review in the Dundee Courier & Argus.


Press Comment

Dundee Courier & Argus: Tuesday, February 29, 1916

Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”

'The second visit of Mr Joseph O'Mara and his opera company to Dundee opened last night at Her Majesty's Theatre very auspiciously.  The performance was good and gives promise of better as the week goes on; the audience was wonderfully large - for a Monday night, and  opera - and we hope was prophetic of still larger houses as the week advances.

'Verdi's Il Trovatore, old-fashioned as it is, still possesses a wonderful amount of vitality.  He is one of the composers who is described as having 'sought to crystallise a sentiment into a tune';  his melodies are not attempts to set certain words or phrases, but to express and drive home the inner meaning of these words and phrases.  His work is full of strong dramatic feeling and passion, sometimes exuberantly expressed, particularly in the earlier operas, of which Il Trovatore is one, but he is never any noisier than Wagner sometimes is, and his great power of inventing musical phrases which seem to fit the dramatic situation like the proverbial glove is well shown in last night's opera.  The steady use of semiquavers, for instance in Manrico's solo “Strike down that dread pyre,” suggests the natural shuddering at the grim and ghastly scene of which the singer's mind is full, and the passionate, disconnected phrases of Leonora in the “Miserere” scene are intensified by the contrast with the formality and stiffness of the prayerful chorus by which it is accompanied.

'It is trite to say that the story of Il Trovatore is not a good one, but, like the melodies, it is certainly strongly dramatic and full-blooded.  It is one of the grimmest tales of cruelty and revenge ever set to music, and it shows up the absurdity of the very idea of opera in a comic light.  We were last night spared the incongruity of Manrico leaving his prison cell to bow his acknowledgements to the audience, and going back to it again, but the repetition of the phrases, “She must be mine,” “She shall be thine,” were as comical as ever.

'Much of the music is trying, but it is also grateful for the singers, for Verdi, like most Italians, knew how to write for the human voice.  His orchestration sometimes, of course, sinks to the “big guitar” style, much of it is fresh and effectively, if highly, coloured.

'Only three members of last night's cast sang in Il Trovatore when it was produced here by the same company a year ago.  Miss Florence Morden repeated her fine impersonation of Leonora, and improved upon it. Her voice is fuller, more equal in quality, and the year's experience has told favourably upon her conception of the part, and upon her singing of it.  She acts with much force and dramatic instinct, and she sings with commanding breadth and brilliance.  Her treatment of “‘Twas night and all was still,” particularly in the sweeping curved cadences of the refrain, was delightful in its purity of tone and grace of phrasing, and “To tell of love so glowing” was sung with sparkling brilliance.  The exquisite “Breeze of the Night” solo in the fourth act was charmingly sung, and Miss Morden's singing in the pathetic last scene was touching in its tenderness.   In the concerted music Miss Morden sang gloriously, and bravely held her own against tenor, baritone, and band.

'Mr Arthur Vallance made a dignified Count di Luna, and his singing was excellent.  His treatment of “The Tempest of the Heart” was a little disappointing in finish and refinement of style, but in the broader passages he sang with vigour and effectiveness.  Mr Woollard sang capitally as Ferrando, his enunciation being especially good.

'Of the newcomers, Miss Irene Ainsley is the most important.   She appeared as Azucena, a fine part both for singing and acting.   Miss Ainsley has a voice of delightfully warm quality, and she sings with the ease and grace of a true artist.  “Fierce flames are raging” was declaimed with intense dramatic power, and her recital of her mother's cruel death was instinct with passion and feeling.  In the last scene with Manrico, notably in the lovely “Home to our mountains” duet, she sang with true delicacy and pathos.

'Mr Henry Thompson made a vigorous Manrico, acting with much power, and singing  with great dash and brilliance.  He has some splendid high notes - which he is not afraid to use - and his ringing finish to “Strike down that dread pyre” brought down the house, and also brought an encore.   Miss Parsons made an efficient Inez, and Mr M'Carthy was quite capable as Ruiz.

'The chorus is a strong point in the O'Mara company, and the present singers have fine fresh and strong voices.  The male choruses were lustily sung, notably the War Chorus, and the Anvil Chorus went with its accustomed spirit.  The largely-augmented orchestra, quietly conducted by Mr Oreste Sanfilippo, played wonderfully well.

'To-night Carmen will be produced with Madame Doris Woodall, an experienced and famous Carmen, new to Dundee, and Miss Pauline Donnan, a new Michaela.   Mr O'Mara appears himself as Don José, and Mr William Russell, as Escamillo, the Toreador.  The performance last night was over very shortly after ten o'clock, and we are asked to say that on each evening of the week the opera will finish not later than 10.5.'

Further tour dates to be confirmed.

Performance Cast

Ferrando captain of Di Luna's guard

Mr H Woollard (Feb 28)

Inez confidante of Leonora

Violet Parsons (Feb 28)

Leonora a Duchess, lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon

Florence Morden (Feb 28)

Count di Luna a young noble of Aragon

Arthur Vallance (Feb 28)

Manrico a chieftain under the Prince of Biscay

Henry Thompson (Feb 28)

Azucena a Biscayan gypsy woman

Irene Ainsley (Feb 28)

Ruiz a soldier in Manrico's service

Alphonso McCarthy (Feb 28)

Performance DatesTrovatore 1916

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

28 Feb, 19.15

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