Opera Scotland

Faust 1891Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Faust

 This two week season in Edinburgh was originally scheduled to commence with the spectacular effects of Meyerbeer's grandiose Les Huguenots. However, on the night, Georgina Burns was ill, and unable to appear as Valentine. In this rarely performed opera, the company did not have a prepared understudy to cover for her, so Faust was brought forward from the Wednesday evening. By Wednesday, Madame Burns was restored to health and The Huguenots went ahead. The Scotsman was not amused at what it perceived as a lack of preparation. Later in the visit, Zélie de Lussan had to withdraw from Carmen, but with this more common piece, the company was able to field a replacement without difficulty.

The reviewer in the Glasgow Evening Post (16 November) explained 'the cast contained a new Mephistopheles and a new Marguerite, r Bowman Ralston appearing in the former role, and Miss Alice Esty in the latter. "Mr Jean Dimitresco made a capital Faust, and athough his dramatic method is somewhat conventional, he yet acted in a sufficiently vigorous and intelligent manner, while his singing as exceedingly fine and sympathetic. his rendering of the solos 'Be mine the delight' and 'All hailthou dwelling' was particularly happy; while his acting in the garden scene was fervid and natural, and showed considerable histrionic ability.  Mr Bowman Ralston;s fine bass voice was heard with effect in the music allotted to Mephistopheles, and his acting was, without doubt, more than usually vigorous and clever.   At the same time, and without detracting in the least from the dramatic merit of the performance, it may be suggested that his interpretation of Mephistopheles was not exactly that of Goethe, for there was here and there touches of burlesque in it that do not accord with the devil as conceived by the German  poet, and old Mephistopheles himself, could he have been present at the performance, might have resented somewhat the 'deep damnation of his taking off''.  But nothing could have been finer or more effective than Mr Ralston's acting in the scene where he is confronted by the sign of the Cross, and it was sufficient to atone for the slight shortcoming in the other respect.  Miss Alice Esty was a charming and ingenuous Marguerite, but she was somewhat timid, and would have made a better appearance had she been more familiar with the music of her part.  Mr Leslie Crotty was an acceptable Valentine, and Miss Annie Cook made a good appearance as Martha.  Miss Josephine Yorke's fine contralto made the most of Siebel's music, and she was several times deservedly recalled."

The Glasgow Herald reviewer (24 November) said "Announced to begin the short engagement at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh with Huguenots, the Carl Rosa Opera Company, at the eleventh hour, displaced Meyerbeer's grand opera in favour of Faust.  The change did not at all meet with the popular favour.  Many who had come prepared to admire Meyerbeer refused to be propitiated with Gounod, and left the Theatre; while those who remained had actually to be thawed into appreciation of a performance which, had it not run counter to public expectancy, would have been cordially accepted as a masterly one. The Marguerite of the evening was Miss Alice Esty, who is a stranger to Edinburgh, but is not likely to remain so, the impression she made being a most pleasing one. As Mephistopheles,  Mr Bowman Ralston, another stranger, gave a capital rendering in the part, and was recalled for the appropriately diabolic spirit which he threw into the serenade. M. Jean Dimitresco, whose voice seemed to have been affected by the disagreeable weather, was a fairly successful Faust, while Mr Leslie Crotty and Miss Josephine Yorke in the parts respectively of Valentine and Siebel were warmly welcomed as old favourites."

Performances in Scotland during 1891 were as follows:-

Carl Rosa Grand Opera, as it was then branded, visited Glasgow Grand Theatre (w/c 30 March) and then Edinburgh Lyceum (w/c 6 April).

Carl Rosa Grand Opera visited Glasgow Grand again for two weeks (w/c 9 and 16 November) then Edinburgh’s Lyceum (w/c 23 and 30 November).

There were therefore six weeks and forty-two performances, scheduled as follows:-

Grand Opera Company

w/c 30 March Mon Daughter of the Regiment; Tue Huguenots; Wed Bohemian Girl; Thu Talisman; Fri Lohengrin; Sat m Daughter of the Regiment; Sat e Huguenots.

w/c 6 April Mon Daughter of the Regiment; Tue Huguenots; Wed Daughter of the Regiment; Thu Talisman; Fri Mignon; Sat m Talisman; Sat e Faust.

w/c 9 November Mon Carmen; Tue Black Domino; Wed Romeo & Juliet; Thu Huguenots; Fri Daughter of the Regiment; Sat m Faust; Sat e Bohemian Girl.

w/c 16 November Mon Fra Diavolo Tue Huguenots; Wed Daughter of the Regiment; Thu Trovatore; Fri Bohemian Girl; Sat m Carmen; Sat e Maritana.

w/c 23 November Mon Huguenots; Tue Daughter of the Regiment; Wed Faust; Thu Romeo & Juliet; Fri Black Domino; Sat m Carmen; Sat e Bohemian Girl.

w/c 30 November Mon Daughter of the Regiment; Tue Trovatore; Wed Carmen; Thu Bohemian Girl; Fri Faust; Sat m Daughter of the Regiment; Sat e Maritana.

Taken together, the repertoire:-

Nine Daughter of the Regiment

Six Huguenots

Five Bohemian Girl

Four Carmen; Faust

Three Talisman

Two Maritana; Black Domino; Romeo & Juliet; Trovatore

One Fra Diavolo; Mignon; Lohengrin

9+6+5+8+3+8+3= 42 QED Thirteen operas

Performance Cast

Faust a learned doctor

Jean Dimitresco

Méphistophélès the devil

Bowman Ralston

Valentin Marguerite's brother

Leslie Crotty

Wagner a student of Dr Faust

Charles Campbell


Alice Esty

Siébel a student of Dr Faust, in love with Marguerite

Josephine Yorke

Marthe a neighbour

Annie Cook (Nov 23)

Annette Laubach (Dec 4)

Performance DatesFaust 1891

Map List

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

11 Apr, 00.00 23 Nov, 19.30 4 Dec, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

14 Nov, 14.00

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