Opera Scotland

Masked Ball 1920O'Mara Grand Opera Company

Read more about the opera Ballo in maschera

The O'Mara company made two visits to Scotland in 1920, and Aberdeen received them for a fortnight in the spring and a further one in the autumn. The length of both these visits may have been due to the much-lamented closure of Her Majesty's Theatre in Dundee in 1919. It had been a regular date for O'Mara during the war years, but had just been acquired, in rather controversial fashion, by a London-based cinema chain. It would be a couple of years before the big Dundee variety house, the King's, was made available for opera. The people of the north were the gainers.

The Aberdeen schedules were:

Week commencing 19 April: Mon Bohème; Tue Tannhäuser; Wed Lily of Killarney; Thu Madam Butterfly; Fri Marriage of Figaro; Sat mat Traviata; Sat eve Faust.

Week commencing 26 April: Mon Samson and Delilah; Tue Un ballo in maschera; Wed Bohemian Girl; Thu Wally; Fri Manon Lescaut; Sat mat Faust; Sat eve Trovatore.

Week commencing 22 November: Mon Cav & Pag; Tue Bohème; Wed Maritana; Thu Faust; Fri Romeo and Juliet; Sat mat Rigoletto; Sat eve Tannhäuser.

Week commencing 29 November: Mon Lohengrin; Tue Samson and Delilah; Wed Puritan's Daughter; Thu Trovatore; Fri Seraglio; Sat mat Madam Butterfly; Sat eve Lily of Killarney.

This repertoire contains many of the standard favourites of the day - perhaps Carmen is the only obvious omission. There are several distinct novelties - not just Verdi (Un ballo in maschera), Gounod (Romeo and Juliet) or Puccini (Manon Lescaut) but also Catalani (La Wally) and even Balfe (The Puritan's Daughter). The fact that the little-known Mozart works, Figaro and Seraglio, were both scheduled for a Friday implies that the local orchestral players would need some extra rehearsals during the week.

A Masked Ball was slow to catch on in Britain, perhaps because of the colonial-era Boston setting foisted on the work by the Neapolitan censors. In the twenties, the O'Mara and Beecham companies used a version located in Naples under Spanish influence, so the King/Governor becoves the Duke of Olivares, Governor of Naples. As well as the O'Mara company, this version was briefly in the touring repertoire of Carl Rosa.

The programme gives timings as follows - three acts of 50, 25 and 45 minutes, with two intervals each of fifteen minutes. Total duration of the performance was therefore 2 hours 45 minutes.

Cast details for 27 April are from a programme in Aberdeen City Library.

Performance Cast

Count Ribbing a conspirator (Sam)

Mr Silverston

Count Horn a conspirator (Tom)

Thomas J Bevan

Oscar page to Gustavus (Edgar)

Eveline Birks

Gustavus III King of Sweden (Riccardo)

John Pegg

Lord Chief Justice

Mr A Locker

Anckarström friend to the king (Renato)

John Olivere

Mamzell Arvidson a fortune-teller (Ulrica)

Florence Cahill

Christian a sailor (Silvano)

Mr Colbert

Servant to Amelia

Miss Fordram

Amelia wife of Anckarström (Adelia)

Dorothy Phillips

Performance DatesMasked Ball 1920

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

27 Apr, 19.30

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