Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1917O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

Tannhäuser had been seen with reasonable frequency in Aberdeen and Dundee. However a couple of nights later on the spring tour William Boland and Anna Lindsey would treat northern audiences to their first performances of a much rarer Wagner piece, Tristan and Isolde.

The Glasgow programme gives the playing time for the performance - 2 hours and 55 minutes, including two 15 minute intervals.

Audiences were always supposed to take a particular interest in singers from their own local areas. In this cast, Violet Parsons was a young soprano from Arbroath. Nellie Watt came from Aberdeen, and was, or would soon be, the wife of William Anderson, a Dundee-born bass, by now well established and singing leading roles with the company.

Cast details are from the Dundee Advertiser and the Dundee Courier & Argus, Wednesday 28 March. For the autumn visit, cast details are from a programme in the Mitchell Library. Violet Parsons and Flintoff Moore are shown in both tours, while the players of the four junior knights are only listed in the Glasgow programme.


Dundee Press Comment

Dundee Advertiser: Wednesday, March 28, 1917

O’Mara Opera - “Tannhäuser” 

'Tannhäuser, which was the opera presented by the O'Mara Company at Her Majesty's Theatre last night has for many years been a great popular favourite.  It is remarkable to reflect that on its first production in 1845 it proved an almost complete failure, Schumann alone recognising great merit in the fourth operatic venture of Richard Wagner.  The judgement and acclamation of succeeding years is more easily accounted for than the frigidity of the “first night's” reception, although the music is anything but Wagnerian in quality, even after much excision by the composer himself.  It is not, in fact, until the third act that Tannhäuser's account of his pilgrimage lifts the opera to the musical heights, yet the opera has great qualities. The stagecraft exhibited throughout by Wagner is superb, and impresses the hearer unforgettably, and the motif of the tragedy is universal in its application.  Many with good reason fail to respond to such subjects as are made the themes of many operas, Madam Butterfly included, but no one with red blood in his veins will remain unmoved by Wagner's music pageant of the struggle between the flesh and the spirit.

'The performance of Tannhäuser last night was wholly satisfactory and very even in quality.  Mr William Boland in the title role was very fine.   He is a magnificent tenor of the heroic type, and has scored a great success in this part wherever he has gone.  In Tannhäuser he has a character which suits him in every detail, and he let his voice go with refreshing and infectious enthusiasm.  His declamation at the end of the first act, and in the last act when reciting the story of his pilgrimage, was superbly done, and held the audience enthralled.

'Miss Anna Lindsey as Elizabeth proved admirably suited to her part. She is a dramatic soprano of exceptional gifts and she overcame very triumphantly the extraordinary difficulties of her vocal music.  Mr Flintoff Moore as Wolfram gave a very good account of himself, especially in the celebrated “Star of Eve” romance, but he played throughout with dignity and ability.

'Mr William Anderson as Landgrave, the chief of the minstrel knights, was just the man to impart to this character the sonorous impressiveness and dignity which the role demands.  Last night the famous Dundee bass was rapturously received.  It is indeed a delight to his townsmen to find one of their number featuring so brilliantly in such distinguished company. Then Miss Violet Parsons as Venus filled the second soprano part excellently.  Miss Parsons has just recently been promoted to certain important parts by Mr O'Mara, and shows exceptional promise.

'To-night Verdi's La Traviata will be produced, with Jean Gibson as Violetta.  Miss Gibson is a native of Paisley, and was well known on the concert platform before migrating into opera. Mr Henry O'Dempsey, who was so successful as Pinkerton, will play Alfred Germont.  The role of the elder Germont will be in the hands of Flintoff Moore.'


Dundee Courier & Argus: Wednesday, March 28, 1917  (p2)

Her Majesty’s Theatre - The O’Mara Opera Company - “Tannhäuser”

'Wagner’s most popular opera ought to have attracted a bigger audience to Her Majesty’s Theatre than it did last night.  No war can destroy the artistic value of the work of Wagner and others of his kindred, and it is a pity if Dundee shows itself to be provincial enough to debar the works of the mighty dead even if, when alive, they were German.  Perhaps, of course, this may not be the reason of last night’s scanty house.

'The performance was again one of much all-round merit.  The unavoidable weakness in the male portion of the chorus was more prominent than on the previous evening, and because of this the “Pilgrims’ Chorus” and the March which occurs early in the second act lacked a little of their depth and grandeur.

'Miss Anna Lindsey’s Elisabeth remains a dignified and gracious performance and of much vocal excellence.  The “Greeting to the Hall of Song” was finely declaimed, and the “Prayer” was given with much beauty of phrasing and sympathy.  Miss Violet Parsons, as Venus, scored a happy success.  She looked the part well, and sang with wonderful volume of voice, tunefulness, and expressiveness.  The part is not an easy one to act, for it must not be overdone, and Miss Parsons steered her path with discretion and skill.

'Mr William Boland is obviously at home in the role of Tannhäuser.  He was particularly effective in the end of the first act and in the Narrative in the third act, which was given with conspicuous point and dramatic energy.  Mr William Anderson’s glorious voice told magnificently in his dignified impersonation of the Landgrave, and Mr Flintoff Moore sang “O Star of Eve” with much sweetness and grace.  Miss Watt sang the Shepherd Boy’s Song very prettily, and the other roles were well filled.  The complicated finales of both the first and second acts went steadily and firmly, and the gorgeous harmonies were happily sustained.

'To-night Verdi’s La Traviata will be played for the first time in Dundee for many years in English.  It is a capital specimen of the tuneful, passionate Verdi of early days, and with Miss Jean Gibson, a Scottish soprano, Mr O’Dempsey, and Mr Moore in the principal roles is sure to be well sung and played.  We hope the audience will be larger than on either of the two previous evenings.  Dundee must not entirely be cut off the operatic list.'

Performance Cast


Violet Parsons (Mar 20, 27; Nov 10 m)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

William Boland (Mar 20, 27)

Charles Neville (Nov 10 m)

Shepherd boy

Nellie Watt (Mar 20, 27)

Miss Tomlinson (Nov 10 m)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

Flintoff Moore (Mar 20, 27; Nov 10 m)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

William Anderson (Mar 20, 27)

Joseph Griffin (Nov 10 m)

Walther von der Vogelweide a knight and minnesinger

Mr Pilkington (Nov 10 m)

Heinrich der Schreiber a knight and minnesinger

Mr A Locker (Nov 10 m)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

Jay Ryan (Nov 10 m)

Reinmar von Zweter a knight and minnesinger

William Bowring (Nov 10 m)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Anna Lindsey (Mar 20, 27)

Eleanor Felix (Nov 10 m)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1917

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

20 Mar, 19.15

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

27 Mar, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 Nov, 14.00

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