Opera Scotland

Trovatore 1923Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Trovatore

A near-complete cast for the performance of Trovatore that opened the Glasgow season on 19 February appears in the Glasgow Herald's review the following day. The main roles also appear in an unusually lengthy review in the Aberdeen Press and Journal of 5 April. A much shorter notice in the Glasgow Herald of Monday 19 March, gives an enthusiastic account of the previous Saturday evening. Company information is from a programme for w/c 5 March in the collection of the V&A, London.

The Herald particularly anticipates the change of artistic direction of the company:- ''The season that has just commenced has a further interest in that the company are now appearing under the artistic direction of Madame Doris Woodall, and Carl Rosa patrons will no doubt be on the watch night by night for signs of her controlling hand.

''Her influence seemed to be noticeable last evening in a greatly improved ensemble. The opera chosen for the first performance was Verdi's Il Trovatore, a work which is open to all the dangers that wait on overfamiliarity. Further sources of trouble lie in the simplicity of the score, which may so easily and so obviously become untidy in performance. In the production last evening both dangers were on the whole very happily avoided........

''Madame Woodall took the part of the gipsy with real distinction, sustaining the interest of the part at a higher level than usual by reason of a wealth of well-considered detail. With the exception of one or two notes at the top of her range she sang with finely coloured quality of tone and admirable diction. Mr John Perry was in his best form as Manrico, and Miss Eva Turner also sang well, though with less satisfaction at the beginning of Act IV, than in the earlier scenes.''

The Aberdeen critic is very enthusiastic about the Carl Rosa performance in general, contrasting it with what he sees as the norm. - 'It was a performance as fine as one is likely to hear anywhere. Given a certain number of good voices, a popular success in Il Trovatore by the easy route of unrestrained vigour and geniality is certain. In such a performance almost any kind of acting will do. Such things as dignity, repose, economy or precision of action are unnecessary. They do not pay, and so it is unreasonable to look for them. Conductors and singers of experience know exactly what is expected of them and they make sure that none of the essentials are missing.'

By contrast 'there is another kind of performance, one that takes the opera seriously, and searches its possibilities - the kind of performance the Carl Rosa Company gave last night. The pleasure it gave to a hardened critic, and the white heat of enthusiasm to which it stirred the huge audience (pit and gallery were crammed) seem to constitute sound arguments for a revaluation of the classics.'

'It is easy for the superior person to poke fun at Il Trovatore, but he cannot sneer away the fascination of its joyous, full-blooded, melodic strength.'

'The opening impressed us. The vaulted courtyard and the dim light were an ideal setting for the horrific tale which Mr Bernard Ross (Ferrando) told with a clarity of diction and a point which made the subsequent action almost intelligible.........The Miserere scene was a triumph for all concerned, but particularly for Miss Turner. The chorus voices had the proper colouring - the chorus usually sounds like anything but a penitential psalm - the tenor solo did not smack of the concert platform, and Miss Turner's magnificent singing and acting completed a rarely impressive and artistic reproduction of the famous scene. And so on to the end: it was all good, sincere work in which conductor, principals, chorus and stage director participated with equal credit.'

'We have had few more attractive Leonoras than Miss Eva Turner, and it is but fair to say that much of the evening's success was due to her singing and acting. Technically we have had perhaps finer singers in the part, whose execution and phrasing especially in the broken passage-work, have impressed us more, but the glorious quantity and quality of Miss Turner's voice, and the directness and sincerity of her style compensated for many niceties. Her acting of the part was unconventional. It was more intimate in style than usual; dignity was not awanting in the calmer moments, but wherever her heart was concerned the grand lady gave place to the loving, unselfish woman. It was a rarely human interpretation of a part that is too often merely a lay figure.'

'Mr Perry's Manrico was more soldier than minstrel, although he looked ascetic enough above his shining armour for any arty movement. He was not all fire-eater as some Manricos have been, but a soldier who carried himself as a brave soldier should.......Mr Perry sang the music with fine taste, alike in heroic and lyrical passages.'

'Mr Hitchen was an excellent Count, with a style adroit and flexible enough for his heavy task. His heroics were tempered and instinct with life; in his most menacing moments he never forgot to be the aristocrat.'

'Miss Gladys Parr's Azucena was less fierce and sinister than usual; she relied upon intensity rather than violence of expression and succeeded beyond the ordinary. Her singing was a fit complement to her acting.'

For full details of the Royal Carl Rosa's 1923 Scottish tour, see the entries for Aïda, Maritana, Lohengrin, Carmen, Tales of Hoffmann or Bohemian Girl.

Performance Cast

Ferrando captain of Di Luna's guard

Frederick Clendon (Feb 19)

Bernard Ross (Apr 4)

Inez confidante of Leonora

Bessie Nichols (Feb 19)

Leonora a Duchess, lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon

Eva Turner (Feb 19; Mar 17e; Apr 4)

Count di Luna a young noble of Aragon

Appleton Moore (Feb 19; Mar 17e)

Booth Hitchen (Apr 4)

Manrico a chieftain under the Prince of Biscay

John Perry (Feb 19; Mar 17e; Apr 4)

Azucena a Biscayan gypsy woman

Doris Woodall (Feb 19)

Gladys Parr (Mar 17e; Apr 4)

Ruiz a soldier in Manrico's service

Jack Wright (Feb 19)

Performance DatesTrovatore 1923

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

19 Feb, 19.15 3 Mar, 14.00 17 Mar, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

4 Apr, 19.15

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