Opera Scotland

Force of Destiny 1910Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Forza del Destino

Forza was an unknown quantity for British audiences, long neglected even in London, and never played before in Scotland. This tour, with a specially commissioned translation allowing performances in English for the first time, was launched in Manchester in November 1909, and would not reach London until the following November. It was titled quite simply as Destiny, an idea that does not seem to have caught on. While The Force of Destiny is hardly idiomatic English, we seem to be stuck with it - ENO did once try calling it The Power of Fate - so much more appropriate - but it played to rows of empty seats.

At the first performances, Leonora was taken by a cover, the scheduled soprano, Ina Hill, being indisposed. Gertrude Vania also sang the second performance.  Whether that was the original schedule is unclear.  It says much for the Carl Rosa management that they were able to field two sopranos for such an unusual and difficult role.

Both casts, from the Glasgow Herald and Scottish Referee reviews, are incomplete, though the major roles are covered.


A Glasgow Critic

Glasgow Herald:  Wednesday, 16 March 1910  (p9)

Carl Rosa Opera Compan

'The production by the Carl Rosa Company of an English version of an opera like Verdi's La Forza del Destino may be taken as a reflection on the much aggrieved British composer.  The British composer has had the inspiration of Wagner.  He has been shown music drama in the making, and has had pointed out to him all the things he should avoid in the older school.  Yet, although he goes on writing, opera companies are forced into revivals of almost unknown works in order to give variety to their repertoire.  The Carl Rosa Company would hardly search dusty foreign shelves and go to the trouble of translation and adaptation if they were well served at home.

'Destiny must have been little more than a name for last night's audience in the Grand Theatre.  The work belongs to Verdi's middle period, coming just after the favourites, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, and La Traviata.  In the libretto one finds most of the conventions of the old school - peasants who dance and sing and lend picturesque colour to the scene, monks who provide solemn music by way of contrast,  soldiers who behave as only operatic soldiers can behave.  In the set scenes and their accompaniments we feel that we have not got very far away from Meyerbeer.  In music Leonoras are usually tender ladies set apart for unhappiness.  The Leonora in this case is daughter of the Marquis di Calatrava, and it is her misfortune to be discovered in the act of eloping with her lover, Don Alvaro.  In the scene that follows a pistol goes off by accident, killing the Marquis.  Leonora takes refuge in religion, and retires from the world.  Don Alvaro, under an assumed name, goes to the wars, where he saves the live of Don Carlos, Leonora's brother.  Chance reveals to the brother the identity of his friend, and he insists on a duel.  Alvaro flies to a monastery (of course it turns out to be near Leonora's hiding place), where he is followed by Don Carlos.  A fight is forced on the lover and the brother is slain.  Leonora turns up in time to commit suicide, lingering long enough, however, to say farewell to her lover and point him to heaven.

''The story, it will be observed, has all the romantic features of the class of opera to which it belongs, and to those who know the Verdi of Il Trovatore and the rest the music will not require much characterisation.  It is not so strong as the music of better known works, but it has much of the composer's sincerity and expressiveness of melody, and it occasionally reinforces the drama with excellent effect.

'The first two acts are probably the best.  The third and fourth are somewhat scrappy, and the tunes, while effective enough in a general way,  seldom have much distinction.  In the orchestra there are vampings, arpeggios, and tremolos in good old-fashioned style, with plenty of brass for the climaxes, and one or two of the clever touches that Verdi could invent on occasion.  Although it is a far cry from Destiny to Aïda, the earlier work may be found useful in the Carl Rosa repertoire.  It has Verdi's tunefulness, and the music and story have the charm of novelty.

'It is admirably staged, and last night it was quite admirably played.  The part of Leonora, through the indisposition of Miss Ina Hill, was taken by Miss Gertrude Vania, who proved in every way a success.  She has a telling voice of good quality, which she uses like an experienced artist.  Her singing in the second act was one of the features of the performance.

'Mr Walter Wheatley was also admirably suited with the rôle of Don Alvaro; we have not heard him to greater advantage in any of his other parts.  Mr Alexander Richard as the Marquis of Calatrava, Mr Hebden Foster as Don Carlos, Mr Frederick Clendon as Friar Melitone, , Mr Arthur Winckworthe as Father Guardiano, Miss Marion Broom as Padre Guardiano, Miss Marion Broom as Preziosilla, the chorus and the dancers also did their work well,  and the orchestra, if sometimes a trifle noisy,  were quite safe under the baton of Mr Walter Van Noorden.  The audience unfortunately was somewhat smaller than usual, but  the opera was enthusiastically received.'


Glasgow Final Week

Scottish Referee:  Friday, 25 March 1910 (p4)

Stagelamd - The Carl Rosa Opera Company at the Grand (Glasgow)

'On Tuesday evening a repeat performance of Verdi's Destiny was given, but as was the case on the previous week the attendance was most disappointing.  The performance was of a delightful character, the principals, Messrs Wheatley, Richard,  Clendon, Winckworth, and Miss Douglas Wilson and Miss Gertrude Vania being eminently successful in their respective portrayals.  Perhaps on the next visit to Glasgow, if Destiny is again revived, the enterprise of Mr Van Noorden and Mr Chas Victor will meet with greater success than this year.'

Performance Cast

Marchese di Calatrava a Marquis, father of Leonora and Carlo

Alexander Richard (Mar 15, 22)

Donna Leonora di Vargas

Gertrude Vania (Mar 15, 22)

Don Alvaro a Peruvian nobleman

Walter Wheatley (Mar 15, 22)

Preziosilla a gypsy

Marion Broom (Mar 15)

Jean Douglas-Wilson (Mar 22)

Don Carlo di Vargas

Hebden Foster (Mar 15)

Melitone a Franciscan friar

Frederick Clendon (Mar 15, 22)

Padre Guardiano Franciscan Father Superior

Arthur Winckworth (Mar 15, 22)

Performance DatesForce of Destiny 1910

Map List

Grand Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

15 Mar, 19.30 22 Mar, 19.30

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