Opera Scotland

Faust 1889J W Turner's English Opera Company

Read more about the opera Faust

While J W Turner concentrated more than other companies on the native product - Balfe, Wallace, benedict and Macfarren - he always staged some of the standard pos.


Dundee Opinion

The Dundee Advertiser on Thursday, October 17, 1889 (p6) reviewed the performance in Her Majesty's Theatre:

'Some ten years have passed since Carl Rosa gave a performance of Faust in the Castle Street Theatre. That performance remained unequalled until last night, when in general excellence it was surpassed by the glorious interpretation given by the Turner company. The house was crowded to the doors before the overture began, and improvised seats on stairs and every foot of standing room were eagerly taken. A fine performance was expected, as one could hear from the remarks in the circles, but the result soared above all expectation. As each success was won by principals or chorus the stalls and circles vied with the ‘gods’ and the ‘groundlings’ in the lavish bestowal of applause.

'Mr Turner was greeted with loud acclamation when the curtain rose and revealed him as Faust lamenting his lost youth. He had scarcely declaimed the first three lines of the fine soliloquy when it was evident he was in splendid condition for the arduous work before him. Then the sweet voices of the peasant girls and the sonorous tones of the reapers, heard from without, told that the lovely choruses would be worthily and lovingly sung. Mephistopheles entered, and his representative, Mr Griffin, manifested so much Satanic force in his acting and was so true in his intonation that another chief personage was seen to be in excellent hands. The parchment was signed, the flaming elixir was quaffed, and Faust, blossoming backward from age to youth, set out on his adventures.

'We were then transported to a picturesque square in a quaint old city. Soldiers and students carousing with their sweethearts and wives and friends thronged the stage and burst forth into lusty song. How they sang in this and in the famous soldier chorus! No word-painting can convey an idea of the effect their powerful and cultured voices had on the hearts of the audiences. Every singer was an actor, and each prettily dressed and well disposed group was instinct with life and animation. Every passage of the long chorus which heralds the entrance of Siebel and Valentine seemed the natural and involuntary exclamations of a strongly excited crowd. Miss Josephine Yorke as Siebel and Mr F Land as Valentine came on, and the dramatic action of the opera began to develop the story. Valentine’s farewell cavatina was on the whole very nicely sung, but the vibrato that comes of nervousness was the cause of slight untunefulness now and again. Here we say that Mr Land has so many natural gifts and has so often the audience with him that he must take heart of grace and sing with the confidence that scorns the tremolo stop. His death scene was most impressive, and touched the audience. Mr Sidney Clifford as Wagner had, of course, little to do, but he was doing it so well in his folks-lied about “the rat that was born a coward” that for a moment it seemed a pity Mephistopheles should interrupt him. The interruption, however, was amply atoned by the caustic emphasis Mr Griffin gave to the lay of the “Calf of Gold”.

'Every heart was tuned to approbation when Miss Bellamy as Margarita entered. Henceforth the scenes between her and Faust commanded the deepest interest. Each accomplished artist put forth his and her every resource of stage art and vocal skill. In the “King of Thule” and the “Bijou Song” Miss Bellamy charmed the house. Her voice sparkled and gleamed in the latter like the jewels themselves. The duet beginning “The hour is late” was a superb concord of sweet sounds, and at its close the applause was deafening. The garden scene was also enjoyable for the subtle acting of Mr Griffin with the amorous widow, who was well personated by Miss Alice Farquharson.  Siebel’s solo in the fourth act displayed Miss Yorke’s rich contralto to great advantage. In the last act the harrowing scene between Faust and Margarita was given with intense meaning by Mr Turner and Miss Bellamy, and the audience was hushed in awe as the final tableau was unfolded.

'The rich orchestration with which the noble work is adorned was laudably rendered by the orchestra, who were obedient to the skilful beat of Mr Turrell. Much of the success of the opera was due to the admirable scenery provided by Mr M’Farland. Maritana is the piece to-night, and for to-morrow night Robin Hood is announced; but there are many who would rather have another night with Gounod.'

Performance Cast

Faust a learned doctor

Mr J W Turner

Méphistophélès the devil

Edward Griffin

Valentin Marguerite's brother

Frank Land

Wagner a student of Dr Faust

Sidney Clifford


Constance Bellamy

Siébel a student of Dr Faust, in love with Marguerite

Josephine Yorke

Marthe a neighbour

Alice Farquharson

Performance DatesFaust 1889

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

16 Oct, 19.30

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