Opera Scotland

Tales of Hoffmann 1954Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tales of Hoffmann

The Aberdeen Evening Express review (30 March) opened "Judging from its production of Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann last night in His Majesty's Theatre, the Carl Rosa Opera company has got a fresh lease of life...Before the curtain rose, it was evident that a blithe spirit was in action.  Arthur Hammond, the conductor, surprised -and amusingly confused - us all by a new treatment of the National Anthem...The Tales is Offenbach's magnum opus; into it he crammed all his talents. It requires histrionis as well as vocal qualifications. Last night both were in evidence.

"Outstanding among the principals was Estelle Valery who played Antonia and Giulietta. Miss Valery has a soprano voice of quality and power. Her intonation is immaculate, and all she needs is greater definitioon of words. George Chitty as Hoffmann sang acceptably and looked the part. His vocalisation improved with each act and he had many commendable touches of artistry... the chorus, males particularly - came across well. Fine discipline here. Arthur Hammond, as great a stylist-conductor as ever, drew from his large orchestra (NB over forty advertised) playing that was only a hairs-breadth from the impeccable." 

The Carl Rosa's six-week 1954 Scottish tour began on 8th March with a three week stay in Glasgow, always one of its favourite dates. This was followed by a week in Aberdeen, from 29th March, and two in Edinburgh from 5th April. The repertoire was much as before, as the company, with no public subsidy, needed to generate all its income from ticket sales and minimize risk. Operas performed during the tour were by Gounod (Faust); (Bizet (Carmen); Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann); Wagner (Tannhäuser); Verdi (Trovatore, Traviata); Puccini (Bohème, Butterfly); Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana); Leoncavallo (Pagliacci).

This was the company's final appearance in Aberdeen, where the repertoire was Mon Hoffmann; Tue Carmen; Wed Cav & Pag; Thu Faust; Fri Tannhäuser; Sat mat Butterfly; Sat eve Trovatore.

One of the most highly esteemed British films in the years after the war was the treatment of Tales of Hoffmann by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, with a soundtrack conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. It is hardly surprising that the Carl Rosa company should take advantage of this topicality.

What was even more praiseworthy was the fact that, under the guidance of conductor Arthur Hammond, an acknowledged expert on French opera of the period, an attempt was made to restore many of Offenbach's first intentions, which subsequent editors had adjusted after his death. Thus Guiraud's tedious recitatives were jettisoned in favour of the original dialogue; the acts were at last played in the correct order, with Giulietta in Venice following Antonia. Furthermore, an attempt was made to tighten the structure by having Estelle Valery sing three of the heroines (she would soon add Olympia) and Arthur Wallington all four villains. Liddell Peddieson and David Lewis here split the four servants, though that would also change. The Barcarolle was now sung by two anonymous voices instead of the rather illogical combination of Giulietta and Nicklausse. Perhaps the only problem dramatically was the issue as to whether Nicklausse is the Muse of Poetry - in this case they were clearly two separate personages.

The full tour schedule was as follows:-

Glasgow w/c 8 Mar: Mon Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Bohème; Wed Barber of Seville; Thu Traviata; Fri Carmen; Sat m Butterfly; Sat e Cav & Pag.

Glasgow w/c 15 Mar: Mon Rigoletto; Tue Tales of Hoffmann; WEd Bohème; Thu Barber of Seville; Fri Traviata; Sat m Carmen; Sat e Butterfly.

Glasgow w/c 22 Mar: Mon Cav & Pag; Tue Traviata; Wed Tales of Hoffmann; Thu Tannhäuser; Fri Faust; Sat m Bohème; Sat e Carmen.

Aberdeen w/c 29 Mar 7.30: Mon Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Carmen; Wed Cav & Pag; Thu Faust; Fri 7.00 Tannhäuser; Sat m 2,30 Butterfly; Sat e Trovatore.

Edinburgh w/c 5 Apr 7.30: Mon Traviata; Tue Bohème; Wed Traviata; Thu Rigoletto; Fri Tannhäuser; Sat m 2.30 Butterfly; Sat e Cav & Pag.

Edinburgh w/c 12 Apr: Mon Carmen; Tue Faust; Wed Trovatore; Thu Tales of Hoffmann; Fri Cav & Pag; Sat m Bohème; Sat e Traviata.

The cast for 29 March is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library.

Performance Cast

Stella an opera singer

Estelle Valery

Nicklausse Hoffmann's friend

Pauline Allen

Hoffmann's Muse

Margarita Rynn

Lindorf a councillor of Nuremberg

Arthur Wallington

Andrès Stella's servant

Liddell Peddieson

Luther an innkeeoer

David Kelly

Nathaniel a student

Edwin Jepps

Hermann a student

Geoffrey de Latour

Wilhelm a student

Peter Harrison

Hoffmann a poet

George Chitty

Olympia a doll

Edna Graham

Spalanzani an Italian inventor

Frederick Wood

Cochenille Spalanzani's servant

Liddell Peddieson

Coppélius a scientist, Spalanzani's rival

Arthur Wallington

Antonia Crespel's daughter

Estelle Valery

Crespel a councillor of Munich

Richard Golding

Franz Crespel's servant

Liddell Peddieson

Dr Miracle a doctor

Arthur Wallington

Antonia's mother a spirit voice

Julia Bouttell

First Voice on the lagoon

Margaret Winkler

Second Voice on the lagoon

Julia Bouttell

Giulietta a courtesan

Estelle Valery

Schlemil Giulietta's lover

Hubert Dunkerley

Pitichinaccio Giulietta's admirer

David Lewis

Dapertutto a sorcerer

Arthur Wallington

Performance DatesTales of Hoffmann 1954

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 Mar, 19.00 16 Mar, 19.00 24 Mar, 19.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

29 Mar, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

5 Apr, 19.30 15 Apr, 19.30

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