Opera Scotland

Rose of Persia 1900Mr R D'Oyly Carte's Opera Company

Read more about the opera Rose of Persia

Sullivan's last completed stage work had a successful tour a few months after its London opening.

It seems that this Scottish tour may have been unusual - Glasgow and Dundee dates are separated by a single week, but this was not spent at the Edinburgh Lyceum.  Unusually, for a company visiting Dundee, The Rose does not appear to have gone to Aberdeen either.  The company was at the Tyne Theatre, Newcastle two weeks before Glasgow (w/c 9 July), so the weeks starting 16 & 30 July and 13 August, yet to be accounted for, may have been at Scottish venues.

There may have been scheduling issues - a second DC company with a mixed repertoire of G & S works, was also in the area - 2 weeks starting 6 Aug at the Lyceum then 2 weeks from 20 Aug at Glasgow Royalty.  A week in Dundee followed from 10 September.  The week from 3 September may well have been in Aberdeen.

Cast from a programme in the Lamb Collection, Dundee Central Library.

Dates at other venue(s) to be added.


Dundee Prices:

Boxes £2 2s and £1 11s 6d; Single Seats in ditto 5s;

Dress C. 4s; Stalls 3s; Up Circ 2s 6d;

Pit and Amphitheatre 1s; Gallery 6d

Booking at Paterson’s, Reform Street


Dundee Notices

Piper o' Dundee: Wednesday, August 1 1900   (p96)

The Week - By Lord Dundee - Reopening of Her Majesty’s Theatre

'The announcement of the reopening of Her Majesty’s Theatre is of happy augury, for it heralds the appearance of Mr D’Oyly Carte’s principal company in the new and attractive opera by Basil Hood and Arthur Sullivan, The Rose of Persia.  The production of The Rose of Persia has called forth a chorus of approbation, and there are anticipations that this delightful rose is not long to be left blooming alone, and that it may be regarded as the first of a series of Hood and Sullivan operas destined to be quite as popular, and perhaps even more successful than the famous and not-to-be-forgotten Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the music of which still delights the ears alike of populace and the musicianly critics.  The Rose of Persia has delighted audiences here, there, and everywhere, and the opera lovers of Dundee had better see to it that they secure places for next week’s attractive performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre.'


Dundee Advertiser: Tuesday, August 7 1900

Her Majesty's Theatre - The Rose of Persia

'After nine weeks' vacation, Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee, opened for the season last night, when a large and delighted audience listened to the first performance in Dundee of the new Savoy opera The Rose of Persia.  Since the long succession of Gilbert-Sullivan operas came to a sudden termination the illustrious composer of these entertaining productions has been hampered for want of a really good libretto.  In The Rose of Persia he has at last been supplied with a book whose combined cleverness and whimsicality have drawn forth in ample measure the bewitching beauties of melody and the exuberant richness of harmony that have justified some critics in hailing Sullivan in light opera as the legitimate successor of Mozart. Captain Basil Hood, the author of the libretto, has already done some good work in musical comedy, but the present is his most ambitious effort, and the great success which has already attended The Rose of Persia gives promise that he may again become the collaborator of our favourite English composer.  Of the book, it may fairly be said that it is far in advance of most productions of the kind, and on the whole quite worthy of the beauties of musical composition to which it has been wedded.  In particular the dialogue is crisp and amusing, while the lyrics are worked out in that vein of simplicity and originality that seems to be best suited to the Sullivanesque humour.

'The plot is at times a trifle confused, but its main outlines can be followed without difficulty.  Abu-el-Hassan, a wealthy Persian who boasts no fewer than 25 wives, has a peculiar “fad,” which displays itself in the entertainment of all the beggars of the neighbourhood. This propensity is most distasteful to his eldest wife, Dancing Sunbeam, whose principal ambition is to figure in high society.  On the evening when the play opens the Sultana, who is masquerading as a dancing girl in company with three attendants, comes to Hassan's house, and they are promptly pressed into the service to provide amusement for the motley crowd of mendicants and beggars.  A priest appears with instructions to arrest the principal participants in the revels. Thus both the Sultana and Hassan stand in considerable danger of having their heads chopped off, and the latter proceeds to drown his sorrows in a strong narcotic called bhang.  The Sultan, disguised as a dancing dervish, finds Hassan so far gone under the influence of the drug that he imagines himself the Sultan.  His Majesty condescends to humour his stupefied subject, and to keep up the illusion Hassan is removed to the Palace, but when the whole history of the earlier proceedings is disclosed, the question of punishment - as in The Mikado - falls to be considered. This, of course, is ultimately evaded by a neat little quibble whereby Hassan, ordered by the Sultan to tell a story “with a happy ending”, proceeds to tell the story of his own life, and it lies with the Sultan himself to make the “happy ending.”

'Of the music with which Sir Arthur Sullivan has adorned this simple tale it is difficult on a first hearing to speak in terms of adequate praise. The Rose of Persia contains many beauties that can only be disclosed by a perfect familiarity with the score; but its outstanding features are such as to claim for it at once a place amongst the most noteworthy of the Savoy productions. We have here a striking combination of the flowing melody of The Mikado, the bright vivacity and picturesque setting of The Gondoliers, the rich harmony and musicianly grace of The Yeomen of the Guard.  All through we recognise the breadth of treatment, the facility of inventions, the natural simplicity of phrase, the variety and balance of orchestration that betoken the matured artist.  It seems invidious to select any portion of the score for individual notice, but we frequently come upon a dainty bit of melody or a charming piece of concerted music that reminds us of the Sullivan of the days of yore.  A sparkling gem in a lovely setting is the quartette “Joy and Sorrow”; while many of the songs, such as “When Islam first arose” and Yussuf's solo “Our tale is told,” are in the composer's finest vein.  The score contains quite a wealth of concerted music in almost every form, while the orchestral accompaniments to the general ensembles are thoroughly suggestive of Eastern life.  To some extent we miss the lightness of touch that characterised Sullivan's earlier work, but the power and beauty of the music amply repay the additional study necessary to make it perfectly familiar.

'As usual, Mr D'Oyly Carte has sent a company of excellent artists, and much of the enjoyment to be derived from a visit to The Rose of Persia is due to the thorough efficiency of the cast.  Even the smaller parts are in the hands of well trained vocalists, and the balance of voices is artistically maintained.  Mr M R Morand is a well-known actor, and in Hassan he has a role finely suited to his delightful sense of comedy.  Both in word and action he always keeps within the bounds of good taste, and his embodiment of the well-meaning philanthropist simply overflows with “innocent merriment”.  His account of his “promotion in the city” was freely encored, and there was a fine touch of pathos in some of his verses on the “Street Arab.”  Yussuf, the professional story-teller, is suitably personated by Mr Bertram Binyon, whose fine tenor voice does justice to the beautiful music set down for this part.  As Abdallah the Priest Mr Frank Wilson scored an immediate success, and we should have been glad to hear more of this cultured baritone than the shortness of his part admits.  In the role of Sultan Mr J Edward Fraser had also a very appreciative reception; while the Grand Vizier, Physician-in-Chief, and Royal Executioner were amusingly portrayed by Messrs A E Rees, R Rous, and Rudolph Lewis.

'Amongst the ladies of the Company there is quite a galaxy of beauty and of talent, and it is only possible to mention a few of the more important roles.  Miss Ada Davies, who plays the Sultana, has a voice full of freshness and charm.  The difficult music of the part was sung with brilliance and correctness of phrase, and if capable, perhaps of even greater effect with a more powerful voice, the long florid passages were given with a perfection of detail that delighted the ear.  Miss Alice Aynsley Cook gave a thoroughly dramatic rendering of Dancing Sunbeam, her full, well rounded notes earning justly merited applause.  Special mention may also be made of the excellent work done by Miss Ethel Stuart Barker, Miss Gertrude Jerrard, Miss Elsie Duncan, and Miss Nora Maguire.

'All the accompaniments of this fascinating production are upon a gorgeous scale, the scenery and costumes being magnificent.  An increased orchestra, under the baton of Mr E Vousden, give efficient support to the vocalists, and the chorus showed indications of careful training.  This engagement may be safely and strongly commended to all music lovers in the city.'


Piper o’ Dundee: Wednesday, August 8 1900   (p107)

The Week - By Lord Dundee - Her Majesty’s Theatre - The Rose of Persia

'Summer, such as it was, is over. Autumnal night airs herald those of winter proper; and as the evenings draw in, one’s thoughts turn to lamplit leisure, such as Her Majesty’s affords. The reopening will put fresh life into the playgoer, after the ennui of those past purposeless Mondays, and it seemed fitting that The Rose of Persia should inaugurate the season. It has a bloom of colour, vivacity in action, and measure of melody that were very welcome for the occasion; and it is pleasant to note that it presages a tempting programme that should help to lighten the playgoer’s winter.

'Frankly, The Rose of Persia opera does not attain the eminent beauty of the Gilbert-Sullivan productions. The libretto by Captain Basil Hood is only of medium merit; and only here and there does the music suggest the genius of the composer of The Mikado. Thus the broad effect is not so greatly moving to the artistic sense. But to the watchful eye and ear there are beauties and crispnesses of melody and libretto that are bewitching and humoursome. The story would not be easy to relate.  It is fanciful and sufficiently extravagant, and is pinked out a choice Eastern broidery of incident and song. Be it remarked that the orchestration is in no way remarkable, though it seems to afford a satisfactory background. The quartette “Joy and Sorrow” is a telling one; but probably the finest number of all is the Priest’s early song.

'The D’Oyly Carte Company is an extremely good one. There are some very fine vocalists in its ranks, and it is only right to name specially Mr Frank Wilson as Abdallah the priest. His baritone voice is a superb one. Mr M R Morand, as Hassan, is vastly entertaining; and as Yussuf, the story-teller, Mr Bertram Binyon acquits himself as a competent actor and a highly gifted tenor singer. Miss Ada Davies, as the Sultana, sings with brilliancy; and Miss Alice Aynsley Cook, in the part of Dancing-Sunbeam, displayed a charming voice. The opera is well worth hearing, and if the general opinion will be that it lacks the sweetness and gentle graces of the Gilbert-Sullivan favourites, there will still be no want of appreciation for its fascination of kaleidoscopic colour effects and several lovely items of melody.'

Performance Cast

Sultan Mahmoud of Persia

J Edward Fraser (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Hassan a Philanthropist

Mr M R Morand (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Yussuf a Professional Story-Teller

Bertram Binyon (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Abdallah a Priest

Frank Wilson (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Grand Vizier

Mr A E Rees (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)


Mr R Rous (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Royal Executioner

Rudolph Lewis (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Rose-in-Bloom the Sultana Zubeydeh, disguised

Ada Davies (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Dancing Sunbeam Hassan's First Wife

Alice Aynsley Cook (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Heart's Desire a Favourite Slave of the Sultana

Ethel Stuart Barker (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Honey-of-Life a Favourite Slave of the Sultana

Gertrude Jerrard (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)


Ethel Stuart Barker (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Scent-of-Lilies a Favourite Slave of the Sultana

Elsie Duncan (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Blush-of-Morning Hassan's Twenty-Fifth Wife

Nora Maguire (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Production Cast


Mr E Vousden (Aug 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Performance DatesRose of Persia 1900

Map List

Royalty, Glasgow | Glasgow

23 Jul, 19.30 24 Jul, 19.30 25 Jul, 19.30 26 Jul, 19.30 27 Jul, 19.30 28 Jul, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

6 Aug, 19.30 7 Aug, 19.30 8 Aug, 19.30 9 Aug, 19.30 10 Aug, 19.30 11 Aug, 19.00

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