Opera Scotland

Carmen 1934Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Carmen

The Carl Rosa's Scottish tour in the spring of 1934 began with two weeks at the Glasgow Theatre Royal, followed by one each at His Majesty's, Aberdeen and the King's Edinburgh.

The Aberdeen Press & Journal of 12 April was only moderately enthusiastic: ''Carmen....proved once again that most of the members of this company act well and often impressively in their singing, but in look, body, and the spoken word, there is still much to be desired, and some of that muchness could be achieved by a drilling producer.

''The first act was one of the most spiritless, unsparkling first acts of Carmen we have seen. This, in great measure, was due to small parts and chorus. The movements and singing were casual and perfunctory, and, as soon as either chorus or actor had finished a definite thing, actng was dropped, except for an occasional fussy movement.

''With the second act came a change, and after that things never got back to the low level of the first, and the last act got a fine climax. The chorus singing was always bright, clear and tuneful, but grouping and movements were not very good, and the men were wooden as compared with the women.''

Things seem to have improved the following week, when the Scotsman of 18 April was quite enthusiastic about the final performance in Edinburgh: "It was no small pleasure to have so fresh and interesting a performance of Carmen as that which was given at the King's Theatre last night by the Carl Rosa singers. The standard operas are apt to receive standard renderings; sound, but rather hackneyed and with a number of details which might be improved remaining unamended, merely because they have always been done in that particular way. Last night's production, however, suggested that no detail had escaped attention."

"The ensemble movements in which this opera abounds were all capitally rendered, and chorus, ballet and orchestra were always good".  As for the settings, they 'had all been well imagined by a skilled producer.'

For this Carmen the short-lived conductor Leslie Heward is notable - he had previously worked at BNOC and was also closely associated with the Hallé Orchestra, making several recith them. Baritone Redvers Llewellyn and bass Howell Glynne both had major post-war careers and can here be seen being promoted to more important roles.

Cast details for Wednesday 4 April, are drawn from a programme in the Gardiner Collection (Mitchell Library) which also includes the following evening's Don Giovanni. For Wednesday 11 April some names appeared in the review in the following morning's Press & Journal.


The four week long Scottish performance schedule was as follows:

Week one (Glasgow), w/c 26 March: Mon Fledermaus; Tue Barber of Seville; Wed Cav & Pag; Thu Carmen; Fri Fledermaus; Sat mat Butterfly, Sat eve Faust.

Week two, w/c 2 April: Mon Barber; Tue Trovatore; Wed Carmen; Thu Don Giovanni; Fri Madam Butterfly; Sat mat Fledermaus; Sat eve Maritana.

Week three (Aberdeen), w/c 9 April: Mon Fledermaus; Tue Cav & Pag; Wed Carmen; Thu Faust; Fri Barber; Sat mat Fledermaus; Sat eve Maritana.

Week four (Edinburgh), w/c 16 April: Mon Fledermaus; Tue Carmen; Wed Don Giovanni; Thu Fledermaus; Fri Barber; Sat mat Faust; Sat eve Maritana.

There were two performances of the verismo double bill, Cav & Pag. Eight other operas were presented during the tour.

Performance Cast

Moralès a corporal of dragoons

Charles Draper (Apr 4)

Micaëla a peasant girl

Pauline Maunder (Apr 4, 11)

Don José a corporal of dragoons

Godfrey Stirling (Apr 4)

John Wright (Apr 11)

Zuniga a lieutenant of dragoons

Howell Glynne (Apr 4)

Carmen a gypsy

Betty Thompson (Apr 4, 11, 17)

Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Hilary Davies (Apr 4, 11)

Mercédès a gypsy, Carmen’s friend

Monica Sweeney (Apr 4, 11)

Escamillo a toreador

Redvers Llewellyn (Apr 4)

Leyland White (Apr 11)

Dancaïre a smuggler

Kingsley Lark (Apr 4, 11)

Remendado a smuggler

Gwilym Jones (Apr 4)

Performance DatesCarmen 1934

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

29 Mar, 19.30 4 Apr, 19.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

11 Apr, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

17 Apr, 19.30

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