Opera Scotland

Götterdämmerung 1910Denhof Opera Company

Read more about the opera Twilight of the Gods

The first Ring cycles in Britain outside London duly reached their triumphant conclusion with the first Scottish appearance of Götterdämmerung.  Notable features of the casting include a highly-regarded Scottish tenor completing his interpretation of Siegfried, who had also sung Siegmund.  His wife, the soprano Florence Easton, also making a living in Germany, was Gutrune, having earlier sung Freia and Sieglinde.  Agnes Nicholls sang all three Brünnhildes, and Frederic Austin added Gunther to an already heavy week in which he had sung Wotan.

Edna Thornton sang the lowest voiced Norn and Rhinemaiden, and in the second cycle also performed Waltraute.  If anything more surprising was the versatility of Caroline Hatchard in taking the mezzo role of Second Norn a few hours before the lighter soprano part of the highest Rhinemaiden.  Mind you, Kate Anderson repeated this feat in the 1911 cycles, so perhaps it was thought less unusual then than it would seem now.  Voice types do alter with the years.

For the whole cycle, the Scottish Orchestra was augmented to 82 instrumentalists by members of the Covent Garden Orchestra, who had learned the Ring for performance in London in 1908 and 1909. The leader was Henri Verbrugghen.

The Chorus required for Götterdämmerung was recruited from members of the Edinburgh Choral Union, Mr Kirkhope's Choir, Mr Moonie's Choir, and the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company.

The cast is taken from a copy of the programme in the NLS collection.


An Edinburgh View

Scotsman: Monday, 7  March 1910  (p7)

Wagner's Ring in Edinburgh - Fourth Drama The Twilight of the Gods

A great musical enterprise, the performance for the first time in these islands (outside London) of the complete Ring of the Nibelung of Wagner, was brought to completion on Saturday with the Götterdämmerung, or as it is in English known the Dusk, or Twilight of the Gods.  It is the culmination of a large dramatic scheme, by which Wagner sought to unite all the arts in one presentation - music, poetry, painting.  Its productin in Edinburgh has been brought about by the persistent effort of Mr Denhof, who has organised it.  In the actual success - and the production has been an artistic success - the presence of Mr Balling in the conductor's box has been the main influence.  No one attending these four performances, remarkable as they have been for the efficiency of the orchestra, the splendour of the scenery, and the whole-hearted enthusiasm of the singers, could come away from the performance of Saturday without the conviction that the ruling and controlling influence in the production was Mr Balling.

'No doubt there were influences behind, which could be distributed and analysed with an amount of detail which the public would not appreciate.  And no doubt it would be easy to give to the man who wields the baton a great deal of credit which belongs to those who work under him.  But the personality of Mr Balling, to those who know Wagner's music and understand the difficulties  inherent in the artistic production of The Ring,  must have been recognised as the dominating feature of the week's music.  It is true he had the best materials to work with.  Mr Denhof had engaged good vocal artists, who, even in parts they had never essayed before, rose to the occasion;  the Scottish Orchestra, forming as it does, the nucleus of the enlarged theatre band, is capable of the very best work;  the staging and all the attangements which go to make the difference between success and half-success - which means artistic failure - were done by people obviously determined to render the production of The Ring in Edinburgh a triumph.  It is worthy of note that the second cycle is practically as well subscribed for as the first.

'Saturday afternoon's performance of The Twilight of the Gods left room for nothing but praise.  There were places where the scenic illusion failed a little, but this might not unfairly be laid to the charge of Wagner himself, who has left stage directions which read very well, but which, in any attempt to realise them, present almost insuperable difficulties to a stage manager.  For the rest, the performance was something truly memorable.

'The Siegfried of Mr Francis Maclennan and the Brünnhilde of Madame Agnes Nicholls continued the success obtained in Siegfried.  The parting with Siegfried, the dialogue with Waltraute, and afterwards with the supposed Gunther, the encounter with the seemingly faithless Siegfried, and the great scene in the last act, all these showed Madame Agness Nicholls not only as a great singer, but also as a great dramatic artist.  Of an equal merit with the work of Madame Agnes Nicholls was that of Mr Francis Maclennan.    The telling of the story of his life, as he sits among his companions of the hunt, was one of the finest things, alike as vocalisation and as a piece of beautifully delivered narrative, in the entire Ring.

'The Hagen of Mr Charles Knowles was a powerful impersonation, marked by that quality of reserve that seems to belong to that character as one standing apart from the other characters in the drama.  The scene where Hagen is on guard in the moonlight was finely done, and great credit is due to Mr Thomas Meux, as Alberich,  for his share in this, as in other passages of the drama of The Ring.  As Gunther and Gutrune Mr Frederic Austin and Miss Florence Easton had partes which were, in proprtion to their labours in the earlier dramas, comparatively slight.  In every detail, however, vocal and dramatic, their impersonations were admirable elements in the general success.

'Of the other characters, the Waltraute of Madame Marie Alexander, an artist who is steadily forcing her way to the very front, had the fine dramatic quality which has distinguished all her work during the past week.  The music of the Norns, in the prelude, was impressively rendered by Madame Edna Thornton, and the Misses Caroline Hatchard and Alice Prowse;  while in the hauntin music of the Rhine-Maidens, Miss Caroline Hatchard,   Miss Lilian Coomber, and Madame Edna Thornton were altogether charming.  The chorus of vassals, made up out of the forces of the Carl Rosa Opera Company, supplementd by singers drawn from the Edinburgh Choral Union, Mr Kirkhope's Choir, and Mr Moonie's Choir, gave a good account of the music assigned to it.

'At the close of the performance, after many recalls for the principal vocalists, Mr Denhof was at last persuaded to appear upon the stage, in company with Mr Balling and Mr Hedmondt, the latter still in the disguise of a vassal, under cover of which he had been able to keep more closely in touch with his forces on the stage.  In accepting a wreath of laurel, the gift of some friends, Mr Denhof, in a few words, expressed his indebtedness to Mr Balling, to Mr Hedmondt, to the singers, to the Scottish Orchestra, and to the public generally, for the enthusiastic support which had made the success of the performances possible.  During the forthcoming week there will be an exact repetition of last week's performances, and thus a further opportunity offered to the public of enjoying what has proved an unexampled musical treat.'

Performance Cast

First Norn

Edna Thornton

Second Norn

Caroline Hatchard

Third Norn

Alice Prowse

Brünnhilde Siegfried's lover

Agnes Nicholls


Francis Maclennan

Gunther a Gibichung

Frederic Austin

Hagen son of Alberich

Charles Knowles

Gutrune a Gibichung, Gunther's sister

Florence Easton

Waltraute a Valkyrie, Brünnhilde's sister

Marie Alexander (Mar 5)

Edna Thornton (Mar 12)

Alberich a Nibelung

Thomas Meux

Woglinde a Rhinemaiden

Caroline Hatchard

Wellgunde a Rhinemaiden

Lilian Coomber

Flosshilde a Rhinemaiden

Edna Thornton

Performance DatesGötterdämmerung 1910

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

5 Mar, 13.30 12 Mar, 13.30

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2024

Site by SiteBuddha