Opera Scotland

Tales of Hoffmann 1914Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tales of Hoffmann

The Tales of Hoffmann had recently been performed by both the Beecham and Quinlan companies, but this was its first Scottish appearance with the Royal Carl Rosa Opera.  They would continue to play it regularly for the duration of the company's existence.

As always at this period, the standard published text was used - Stella and Lindorf were cut from Prologue and Epilogue, and the order of the tales was altered.  The Venetian act, with Giulietta, was, until quite recently, played as the centrepiece, with the death of Antonia forming the work's climax.

The two week season at Edinburgh's Lyceum began on Monday, 16 February.  This cast is drawn from the OperaScotland copy of the programme for the two items on the first Saturday, 21 February, when the evening performance was of Faust.  Our programme for Friday 27 February has an identical cast.

The second week's programme was:  Mon Tales of Hoffmann;  Tue Marriage of Figaro;  Wed Tannhäuser;  Thu Magic Flute;  Fri Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat mat Jewels of the Madonna;  Sat eve Trovatore.

Our copy of the programme for Friday 27 February also includes the cast for The Magic Flute on Thursday 26 February.

The Glasgow fortnight also began with Tales of Hoffmann on Monday, 2 March.

The final Friday in Glasgow contained a solitary performance of Aïda, the first one of the tour.  The previous evening was unusual in that it saw a performance of Maritana.  This must have been treated essentially as an unrehearsed run through, as the orchestra would have been busy rehearsing the Verdi all day.  Indeed the Carl Rosa had not performed this mature Verdi piece for several years.


Two Edinburgh Notices

Scotsman:  Tuesday, 17 February 1914  (p11)

Carl Rosa Opera Company - The Tales of Hoffmann

'In opening a fortnight's visit to Edinburgh with Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann,  the Carl Rosa Opera Company at the Lyceum Theatre, last night, were wise.  Much as is being attempted and achieved in the name of the ''new music,'' the margin of public appreciation is still on the side of the old favourites.  If Mr Van Noorden had had time and the command of capital that are absolutely necessary, he might have given us Parsifal.  But without perfect performance, Wagner's  great religious music drama would tend to failure and even farce, so strong are the demands on the orchestra, the scenario, and the singers.

'The Tales of Hoffmann was the last work of Offenbach, and may possibly come to be regarded by public opinion as the best.  It was produced at the Opera Comique in the beginning of 1881, and the composer, who regarded it with intense interest,  did not live to witness the première, having died about six months before.    On the English operatic stage The Tales of Hoffmann may be said to have been late of achieving popularity, for the work, on its first production in Paris, had a run of over one hundred nights.  But now that it has been on the stage for three or four years in Endglish version, it promises to rival in popularity such established favourites as FaustCarmen,  and Tannhäuser.

'The Carl Rosa Opera Company are giving the work not only first place in the programme for the fortnight,  but pre-eminence in respect of frequent repetition.   Last night's performance fully justified this decision of the management.  It was up to the highest standard by which the Carl Rosa Company has gained its name, whether we regard the mise-en-ecène, the choral and individual singing, or the orchestration.   The dressing and the scenery were elaborate and effective.

'The orchestra, reinforced by the special p;ayers attached to the company,  did full justice to a style of music which, if not over-serious, still was well abreast of public taste when it was written, and even to-day, with melody and allure, delights the popular ear.  There is, too, something original in the conception of a student gathering in Luther's Wine Cellar in Nuremberg, and of the frolicsome resolve of the poet-student Hoffmann to entertain his friends with the story of three of his romantic but unhappy amours.  t gives to the audience, within the framework of a prologue and epilogue, a musical and dramatic triptych of striking character.   If there are reminiscences of Faust and the Dame aux Camellias, there is the fore-suggestion of La Poupée:  and, altogether if Hoffmann can be played up to the standard of perfection which was achieved last night, it may be accepted as a revival that has come to stay.

'One feature of the performance may be singled out at once, and that was the clear delivery of the words.  It was, one might almost say, the life-object of the late Carl Rosa to prove that the English language was quite as well adapted to  opera or music-drama as the Italian or the German.

'The Hoffmann of last evening was Mr William Wegener, a tenor who combines with a fine natural voice a good dramatic style, and most signally of all, a clear and articulate enunciation.  There was never any difficulty in following his part, and that enhanced the pleasure which his artistic, tuneful, and soulful singing gave to the large audience that filled the theatre.  He was well-supported by Miss Ina Hill, who, also, apart from her tactful impersonation of two dramatically different personages in the second and third acts, seemed resolved not merely to sing tunefully,  but to tell her audiences what shee was singing about.

'A special word of praise is due to Miss Sibyl Conklin, who, throughout the piece, acts the boy part of Nicklaus, the alter ego of Hoffmann.  She appears in every act, and was always efficient and effective.  The great duet, ''Lovely Night,'' which l the serious musicians despise because they cannot imitate or reproduce its essential  atmosphere was beautifully sung, and when it came in orchestrally at the start of the third act it had to be repeated.

'Miss Beatrice Miranda's presentation of the part of the doll was not only full of humour but musically was distinctive in the clever manipulation of the vocal eccentricities set for her.  Other well-rendered parts - and always well-rendered because the singers gave the words beside the music - were those allotted to Mr Mostyn Bell,  Mr Frederick Clendon, an Mr Reginald Gordon.  Mr Hebden Foster's ''His Soul shall be Mine,''  Miss Miranda's ''List to the Sound of my Heart,'' and the great love duet between Hoffmann and Giulietta in Act II, carried out the idea of the composer.  They were redolent of romanticism.

'The general effect of a fine production of Hoffmann would have been improved if the intervals between the acts had been shortened,'


Scotsman:  Tuesday, 24 February 1914  (p10)

Carl Rosa Opera Company

'In opening the second week at the Lyceum, the Carl Rosa Company again presented the Tales of Hoffmann, and its popularity was reflected in the large and enthusiastic audience who assisted at the performance.  This work by the composer of The Grand Duchess Madame Favart, and many other opéras bouffes, which had a great run five and twenty years ago or more,  though more serious in parts than some of these pieces, abounds in tuneful and exhilarating music, both vocal and instrumental,  among its orchestral numbers being the now famous barcarolle,  which last night, when played under the direction of Mr Van Noorden, with dainty expression, received a hearty encore.

'The audience also greatly enjoyed the choral singing by the male chorus in the prologue, as also all the bright and gay vocal and instrumental work, and acting in the doll act, which has all the flavour of a delightful piece of light musical comedy.  In the second and third acts, where under dark magic spells the Tales assume a tragic character, the interest in the piece was likewise well sustained.

'The cast was very much the same as that of last Monday night.  Mr William Wegener appeared in the arduous role of Hoffmann, who is seldom off the stage, and he had again able colleagues in Miss Ina Hill, Miss Sibyl  Conklin,  Mr Hebden Foster and Mr Frederick Clendon.   The part of Olympia, the doll, in the first act, was last night entrusted to one of the latest recruits of the Carl Rosa Company,  Miss Pauline Donnan,  a young lady with a well-trained soprano voice of good quality who both acted and sang in this amusing role with considerable distinction.

'The piece was mounted in an admirable manner.'


A Glasgow Review

Daily Record:  Tuesday, 3 March 1914  (p3)

Carl Rosa Opera

'The Carl Rosa Opera Compaby opened a fortnight's season in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, last night with a splendid performance of The Tales of Hoffmann.   A large audience listened with manifest appreciation to Offenbach's entertaining opera.

'The management exercised wise judgment in its selection for the inaugural performance. The romantic but unhappy adventures of the amorous poet-student form one of the most delightful comedies set to sparkling music, and they are ever welcome to music-lovers when presented in the highly artistic mode to which Walter Van Noorden, who conducted with admirable musicianly insight, has accustomed us.

'The cast was a strong one.  Headed by Mr William Wegener, who played the part of the hero with masterly dramatic power, and sang the music with that rare charm and artistry which won him the warmest praise on his first visit to Glasgow.  He was well supported by Miss Pauline Donnan, whose clear, fresh voice was beautifully suited to the florid singing in which the doll is made to indulge;  Miss Ina Hill was successful alike vocally and histrionically as Giulietta, the flirt, and Antonia, the consumptive singer;  Miss Sibyl Conklin as Nicklaus;  Mr Frederick Clendon as Coppelius;  Mr Hebden Foster as Dapertutto, and later as Dr Miracle;  and Mr Robert Brookes as Spalanzani.

'The rendering of the familiar numbers, notably Mr Foster's ''His Soul shall be Mine'' and the love duet between Hoffmann and Giulietta, and the singing of the male chorus in the wine cellar, were particularly fine, while the band gave the necessary aid to a very finished performance.

'To-night - Mignon.'


Carl Rosa in Scotland - 1914

The 1914 season was unusual in that it was restricted to five weeks in total, and all those in the central belt.   One week at Greenock (King's), and two in Edinburgh (Lyceum), were followed by two in Glasgow (Theatre Royal).

The somewhat reduced repertoire consited of twelve operas in all.  These were by Mozart (Marriage of FigaroMagic Flute);  Wallace (Maritana);  Wagner (TannhäuserLohengrin);  Verdi (Trovatore Aïda);  Thomas (Mignon);  Gounod (Faust)  Offenbach  (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Wolf-Ferrari (Jewels of the Madonna).

The five-week tour schedule was as follows:

Greenock:  w/c 9 February:   Mon 9  Magic Flute;  Tue 10  Carmen;  Wed 11  Tales of Hoffmann;  Thu 12  Trovatore;  Fri 13  Jewels of the Madonna;  Sat 14 m  Tannhäuser;   Sat 14 e  Maritana.

Edinburgh:  w/c 16 February:  Mon 16 Tales of Hoffmann;  Tue 17 Carmen;  Wed 18 Lohengrin;  Thu 19 Mignon;  Fri  20 Jewels of the Madonna;  Sat 21 m Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 21 e Faust.

Edinburgh: w/c 23 February:  Mon 23 Tales of Hoffmann;  Tue 24 Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 25 Tannhäuser;  Thu 26 Magic Flute;  Fri 27 Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 28 m Jewels of the Madonna;  Sat 28 e Trovatore.

Glasgow:  w/c 2 March;  Mon 2 Tales of Hoffmann;  Tue 3 Mignon;  Wed 4 Tannhäuser;  Thu 5 Jewels of the Madonna;  Fri 6 Magic Flute; Sat 7 m Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 7 e  Trovatore.

Glasgow:  w/c 9 March:  Mon 9 Carmen;  Tue 10 Marriage of Figaro;  Wed 11 Tales of Hoffmann;  Thu 12 Maritana;  Fri  13 Aïda;  Sat 14 m Faust;  Sat 14 e Tales of Hoffmann

Performance Cast

Nicklausse Hoffmann's friend

Sibyl Conklin (Feb 21 m, 23, 27; Mar 2)

Nathaniel a student

Archibald Hill (Feb 21 m, 27)

Hermann a student

Mostyn Bell (Feb 21 m, 27)

Luther an innkeeoer

Thomas O'Kelly (Feb 21 m, 27)

Hoffmann a poet

William Wegener (Feb 21 m, 23, 27; Mar 2)

Olympia a doll

Pauline Donnan (Feb 21 m, 23, 27; Mar 2)

Spalanzani an Italian inventor

Robert Brookes (Feb 21 m, 27; Mar 2)

Cochenille Spalanzani's servant

Reginald Gordon (Feb 21 m, 23, 27)

Coppélius a scientist, Spalanzani's rival

Frederick Clendon (Feb 21 m, 23, 27; Mar 2)

Antonia Crespel's daughter

Ina Hill (Feb 21 m, 23, 27; Mar 2)

Crespel a councillor of Munich

Frederick Clendon (Feb 21 m, 23, 27)

Franz Crespel's servant

Albert Felton (Feb 21 m, 27)

Dr Miracle a doctor

Hebden Foster (Feb 21 m, 23, 27; Mar 2)

Antonia's mother a spirit voice

Sibyl Conklin (Feb 21 m, 23, 27)

Giulietta a courtesan

Ina Hill (Feb 21 m, 23, 27, Mar 2)

Schlemil Giulietta's lover

Mostyn Bell (Feb 21 m, 27)

Pitichinaccio Giulietta's admirer

Reginald Gordon (Feb 21 m, 23, 27)

Dapertutto a sorcerer

Hebden Foster (Feb 21 m, 23, 27; Mar 2)

Performance DatesTales of Hoffmann 1914

Map List

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

16 Feb, 19.00 21 Feb, 14.00 23 Feb, 19.15 27 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

2 Mar, 19.15 7 Mar, 14.00 11 Mar, 19.15 14 Mar, 19.15

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