Opera Scotland

Carmen 1916O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Carmen

It is interesting to see Doris Woodall as Carmen, as she is more closely associated with Carl Rosa.

The Courier ends its comment by referring to the fact that, during the Great War, anti-German feeling extended, in some quarters, to a lack of support, even a boycott, for German music, no matter how great.


Press Comment

Dundee Courier & Argus: Wednesday, March 1, 1916


'We never hear Carmen without regretting the early death of its composer, Georges Bizet, and the fact that he did not live to write an even greater work. He died exactly three months after the production of Carmen at the Opéra Comique, Paris. His mastery of tone colour, vocal and instrumental, and his instinct for the dramatic marked him out as an operatic composer of the first rank, and it is an immense compliment to his genius that his only great work - the only great work that he had time to create - still lives, and always charms, on the operatic stage of probably all the countries in the world where opera is known.

'The story of Carmen is not a nice one, but it is a strong and consistent one, and the setting of the opera, in Spain, and among soldiers and smugglers, gives much scope to the stage manager and the costumier, of which full advantage is generally taken. The outstanding feature of the story of Carmen is that in the whole cast there is only one principal whose morals and manners are to be admired. Carmen herself is a minx - to put it mildly; Don José is a weak, poor creature; Escamillo is frankly sensual and brutal, as becomes his occupation; and the others - with one conspicuous exception - are more or less of a doubtful character. The exception, of course, is Michaela - a character in which Miss Marguerite Macintyre elected to make her operatic debut, in Scotland, and which is one of the most exquisitely delicate and dainty characters on the stage. Simple faith and pure affection are her characteristics, and very strongly do they stand out as contrasted with her associates in Carmen.

'Beginning with the days of Madame Emily Soldene and Mr Durward Lely, who, we think, first introduced Carmen to Dundee, we have had many fine productions of Bizet's ever-charming opera.  Last night's may not be the best, but it was very good all round, and in some respects admirable. In no opera does the exponent of the title role dominate the stage to a greater degree than Carmen, and therefore a performance largely stands or falls by its Carmen.  Last night's Carmen was Madame Doris Woodall, who has played it in many theatres from Covent Garden downwards, and who is one of the best Carmens we have seen or heard.  She does not, perhaps, make the character so lurid - which tends to the repulsive - as some others have done, but she gave a most vigorous and characteristic performance. Carmen is a sensuous, not to say sensual, person, who lives for admiration, and who esteems all men fair game for conquest. Madame Woodall is alluring and seductive in all her actions, which are truly redolent of the Spanish air and feeling. She sings beautifully, with finely rich and mellow tone. If we have heard the Habanera sung with more volume of tone and piquancy of expression, we have never heard “Close by the ramparts of Seville” given with more point and vivacity. Her scene with Don José near the end of the second act was magnificently sung and acted, and in the tragic finish Madame Woodall played and sang with splendid effectiveness.

'We were a little disappointed with Miss Pauline Donnan's Michaela. At least in her first scene she suggested a coquettish turn quite foreign, we think, to the part, but she sang beautifully all through. Her first scene with Don José was charmingly sung, and the lovely song in the third act was instinct with feeling and grace; and the duet portions of the same scene were delightfully given.

Mr O'Mara has been suffering from cold, and, determined to play Tannhäuser to-night he reserved himself for it, and Mr Thompson took his place. He acted and sang with his usual force and intelligence, and was notably good in the Flower Song, which was given with all appropriate passion, and in the scene with Carmen and Zuniga at the end of the second act. His make-up for the last scene was a trifle overdone, but his acting and singing were full of fire and vigour.

Mr William Russell's voice is a little light for the music of Escamillo, and we have heard the Toreador's Song more effectively given. But his performance was careful and his acting was telling. The two smugglers, Dancairo and Remendado, were not so broadly funny as we have seen them, but, Messrs O'Dempsey and Rogers sang admirably throughout. The famous quintette with Carmen, Frasquita, and Mercédès went delightfully, and the parts of the two last-named ladies were happily filled by Misses M'Cully and Goldie.

Mr R Woollard was notably good as Zuniga, singing vigorously and tunefully, and acting with appropriate dignity. Mr Kirkman made an efficient Moralès. The chorus, although a little unsteady at times, sang with abundant power and sweetness of tone. The band, under Mr Sanfilippo, was better than on the previous night.

'This evening, Wagner's Tannhäuser will be produced with Miss Anna Lindsey and Mr O'Mara in the chief parts. Let no feeling against German music prevent a large audience assembling, for Wagner belongs to the world of music and not to Germany alone.'

Further tour dates to be confirmed.

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Albert Kirkman (Feb 29)

Micaëla a peasant girl

Pauline Donnan (Feb 29)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Henry Thompson (Feb 29)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Mr H Woollard (Feb 29)

Carmen a gypsy

Doris Woodall (Feb 29)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Miss McCully (Feb 29)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Miss Goldie (Feb 29)

Escamillo a toreador

William Russell (Feb 29)

Dancaïre a smuggler

Mr Rogers (Feb 29)

Remendado a smuggler

Henry O'Dempsey (Feb 29)

Performance DatesCarmen 1916

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

29 Feb, 19.15

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