Opera Scotland

Martha 1870Corri's Grand English Opera Company

Read more about the opera Martha

The Grand English Opera Company from Covent Garden, under the management of Henry Corri, toured Scotland for a second successive year.  The huge repertoire was similar to before, and richly varied. Most of the leading artists also returned.

On most evenings the main event was followed by an afterpiece - either a short concert of songs and arias, or a classic one-act comic opera by Dibdin,  Storace, or Adam.

Further Scottish tour venues and dates to be confirmed.


Prices for the Corri season in Dundee:

Centre Stalls, 4s; Side Boxes, 3s; Pit, 1s 6d; Gallery, 1s.


Two Dundee Reviews

Dundee Advertiser: Tuesday, 15 March  (p4)

The English Opera Company

'Last night, Mr Henri Corri’s very admirable company gave the first of a series of operatic performances for a short season here in the Theatre Royal. The work chosen was Flotow’s Martha. So far as the performance of this pretty opera is concerned there can be but one opinion, that it formed a most successful opening to the season. It was remarkably well put on the stage, the leading characters were faithfully pourtrayed, and the staging was irreproachable. The orchestra must be spoken of as being somewhat careless, however, last night. There was nothing gravely offensive in the instrumentation, but there was certainly want of that attention to delicacy and neatness of execution which even the slightly made music of Flotow’s score demands. Our experience of last year’s playing by this orchestra, under the same leading and conducting, made us expect something better. This will no doubt be forthcoming to-night, when the more musically interesting work – Rossini’s brilliant Barber of Seville – is to be produced. More attention to the conductor seemed to be what was needed last night. Then, the ladies of the chorus must really exert themselves a little more. For lack of energy – heartiness, in fact – in the leading part the choruses were more shadows than realities.

'Our next fault is with the attendance. If Dundee is not to yield better support to entertainments of such real merit as those this company offer, it must, we fear, be content to do without them in future. We turn out largely to oratorio performances, though it is whispered that the easy terms of admission to these have much to do with the large attendance at them, and possibly many people flatter themselves that it is altogether more proper to hear a so called sacred performance in a hall than to be seen in a theatre enjoying a well played opera. Whatever be the cause, the fact is that, in view of the talent engaged last night and the intrinsic worth of the subject, the attendance was neither encouraging to the artistes nor creditable to the good taste of the certain classes; and we do hope that support from the more educated portion of the community, to whom these performances ought to be especially interesting, will in future be satisfactory.

'Madame Corri sustained and sang the part of Martha to admiration. It is, however, not one for which her highest efforts are required, and therefore she does not in it appear to best advantage. This lady last season showed her artistic ability in nothing more markedly than in her sacrificing all opportunities for individual display to the just interpretation of the parts she sustained. There was then an entire absence of ‘staginess’ to her deportment, and equally so in her singing, and this we found characteristic of her appearance again last night. Points in the part of Martha which prima donnas are sometimes found to make for merely personal show she did not indulge in, and the result was that in singing and acting she was throughout an artist. Her ‘Last Rose of Summer’ was deliciously treated, though we have heard her in better voice.

'Miss Harrison’s Betsy was also a most satisfactory performance. Her scene with Mr Henri Corri as Plunket in the last act was particularly good. Mr Parkinson is fresh as ever. He was in splendid voice. The part of Lionel seems to suit him to perfection, and he plays it ‘con amore’. He was a most deserved favourite here last year, and bids fair to sustain his reputation amongst us this season. He brought down the house in ‘the’ tenor aria of the opera, but very properly declined the encore offered.

'We need not say that Mr Corri’s Plunket was admirable. This gentleman is ever happy in his personations, and he was even more than usually so last night. His song of ‘John Barleycorn’ was famously sung.

'As we have said, The Barber of Seville is on for to-night. The music is sparkling and good, the story is highly humorous, and Mr Henry Corri is the ‘Barber’. This alone should ensure a large attendance, even were the other artistes engaged less attractive.'


Dundee Courier: Tuesday, 15 March 1870

Royal English Opera

'Last night Mr Henry Corri’s English Opera Company commenced a twelve nights’ season at the Theatre Royal.  The audience, we are sorry to say, was not, by any means so large in numbers as might have been expected, but what was wanted in numbers was made up in enthusiasm.  The opera – Martha – selected for the opening is certainly an English one to some extent. It is not by an English composer, but the incidents take place in, and the scene of action is England. Martha is an opera which has many taking points in it, and which is more frequently represented than its excellence in a strictly musical sense would lead one to expect.  The composer (Flotow) very unceremoniously steals – for this is the true if not a mild term – the Irish air of ‘The Last Rose of Summer,’ and upon it makes the greater portion of the interest of the story to turn. Not only does he introduce the air, but it is repeated again and again, and the reception awarded to the opera is nearly as much due to the popularity of the Irish ballad as to the composer’s own writing.  Still, there are several beautiful melodies in the opera, not the least taking of which is the tenor aria in the third act.  The spinning quartette is also a lively, well-conceived, and well-spun piece of part writing.

'The caste of Martha last night was very satisfactory. Madame Corri Gillies was the Martha and her acting was at least natural and unaffected. If she does not show the force and tragic power she exhibits in Lucrezia Borgia – in our opinion her best character – still she never oversteps the modesty of nature. Her singing is a pleasure to hear; and whether in the most brilliant cavatina, or in the simple pathetic ballad, she displays a resource, a versatility, and a mastery over her voice which can only be looked for in the most finished of artistes. As usual, ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ was encored. Miss Harrison, as Nancy, played well and sang well.

'Mr Parkinson is the tenor, and is already established as a favourite here. His voice is clear and true, and he sings with feeling and taste. ‘M’appari,’ the name by which Lionel’s aria is best known by, was sung most artistically and encored, Mr Parkinson, however, only bowing his acknowledgments. Mr Henry Corri’s reputation, both as an actor and a singer, is well established, and his acting of the English farmer Plunkett is well fitted to sustain his position. His singing of ‘The Beer Song’ was just what it should have been, and very few artistes can give it as he can. The other characters were very creditably filled by Messrs Blythe and Manley. The orchestra, under the conductorship of Mr Pew, is large enough for the theatre, and considering their number bring out very fully the instrumental colouring of the opera. The chorus is as good as can be expected. The principals – Mesdames Gillies and Harrison, and Messrs Parkinson and Corri – were twice called before the curtain.

'To-night, the opera will be the ever fresh Barber of Seville, when we hope the audience will be such as to in some degree make amends for the thinness of the house last night.'


Corri's English Opera Company - Second Tour of Scotland 1870

The operas performed during the tour were by Dibdin (Waterman);  Mozart (Don Giovanni);  Storace (No Song, No Supper). Auber (Fra Diavolo); Rossini (Barber of Seville, Cinderella),  Donizetti (Lucrezia Borgia, Lucia di Lammermoor Favorite);  Bellini (Sonnambula, Norma);  Adam (Swiss Cottage); Balfe (Bohemian Girl, Rose of Castile);  Wallace (Lurline); Verdi (Ernani).


Dundee, w/c 14 March:  Mon 14 Martha;  Tue 15 Barber of Seville;  Wed 16 Ernani;  Thu 17 Cinderella & Concert;  Fri 18 Lurline;  Sat 19 Lucrezia Borgia & Waterman.

Dundee, w/c 21 March:  Mon 21 Lucia di Lammermoor & No Song, No Supper;  Tue 22 Rose of Castile & No Song, No Supper;  Wed 23 Sonnambula & Waterman;  Thu 24 Barber of Seville & Waterman;  Fri 25 Don Giovanni & Grand Concert;  Sat 26 Concert of Scenes.

Dundee, w/c 28 March:  Mon 28 Sonnambula & Swiss Cottage;  Tue 29 Fra Diavolo & Swiss Cottage;  Wed 30  Favorite & Swiss Cottage;  Thu 31 Bohemian Girl & Concert of Songs;  Fri 1 April Lurline & Grand Concert;  Sat 2 Norma & Concert of Songs

Performance Cast

Lady Harriet Durham Maid of Honour to Queen Anne

Ida Gilliess (Mar 14)

Nancy maid to Lady Harriet

Fanny Harrison (Mar 14)

Sir Tristram Mickleford Lady Harriet's cousin

Mr C M Blythe (Mar 14)

Plunkett a wealthy young farmer

Henry Corri (Mar 14)

Lionel Plunkett's foster-brother

William Parkinson (Mar 14)

Sheriff of Richmond

John Manley (Mar 14)

Performance DatesMartha 1870

Map List

Theatre Royal, Dundee | Dundee

14 Mar, 19.30

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