Opera Scotland

Masked Ball 1923Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Ballo in maschera

Cast details are from a programme for Wednesday, 7 March in the collection at the V & A, London.  One for the performance on 10 April is archived in Edinburgh Central library. This performance is reviewed in the Glasgow Herald, where the five principals (including Parr) and conductor are mentioned with enthusiasm. The main four principals (Turner, Williams, Hitchen and Neilson) are confirmed in a brief review of the week's visit in the Greenock Herald of Saturday, 17 February. If the original tour schedule had been followed, three of these performances would have been in Glasgow. However Perth was substituted due to the inconvenient clash with the BNOC visit to Glasgow. The final Edinburgh cast is from a programme in the NLS as reviewed in the Scotsman.

The Glasgow programme describes this group of performances as a 'Special Revival', reflecting the scarcity of this opera at the time. The first performance of this run had taken place in Hull. The staging is clearly set in the Boston version as used in the 1859 Rome premiere. We are now accustomed to the work being located in Sweden, as Verdi originally intended, but that is a practice that has only arisen since the 1950s. Here Gustavus is described as Riccardo, Anckarström as Renato, Mamzell Arvidson as Ulrica, Christian as Silvano, and the conspirators Ribbing and Horn as Sam and Tommaso. The drama. according to the Edinburgh programme, is set in Boston, around 1640, 'with differences continually arising between Royalists and Puritans.' Where this version varies even from the familiar form as used in most recordings is in the renaming of Amelia as Adelia and the page Oscar as Edgar - all very confusing.

The Glasgow Herald devotes most of its column to the work itself - ''This is one of the operas of what might be called Verdi's middle period, a period filled with works which are 'revived' at intervals, but have never finally established themselves in the permanent repertoire, as is the case with the earlier operas, Il Trovatore and Rigoletto, and the later and greatest operas, Aïda, Otello and Falstaff. It is true that the last two are not often performed but their greatness and lasting qualities are universally recognised, and it is only the heavy demands they make on the performers which keep them out of the repertoire of most travelling companies. With the operas of the middle period this is scarcely the case. It would be more correct to say of them that they lack the irrepressible melodiousness of the earlier Verdi and the mature and sustained inspiration of the latest works.

''The first act is on the whole rather tame, but from the beginning of the second act the interest steadily grows, culminating musically at the close of act four in a very fine quintet. The story has some ridiculous (as is so frequently the case in opera), but it provides opportunities for many effective stage situations, and the opera altogether is quite worthy of an occasional revival.

''The performance was very good, and ran its course fluently. The various ensemble numbers were neatly and crisply rendered, and orchestra and chorus did very satisfactory work, Miss Eva Turner, as Adelia, had a part which suited her particularly well, and she presented it in excellent style, both vocally and histrionically. Mr Ben Williams was likewise good as Riccardo. Mr Booth Hitchen was very successful in the important part of Renato, which gave many opportunities for the effective display of his fine voice. His solo in act four was very well sung, in spite of a tendency to waver around the true pitch in some of his notes. Miss Gladys Parr, as Ulrica, was thoroughly good, and a satisfactory cast of principals was completed with Miss Maude Neilson, as Edgar. The smaller parts were all capably filled. Mr Paul Kochs conducted.''

For full details of the Royal Carl Rosa's ten week 1923 Scottish tour, see under the entries for AïdaMaritanaLohengrinCarmen, Tales of Hoffmann or Bohemian Girl.

Performance Cast

Count Ribbing a conspirator (Sam)

Bernard Ross (Mar 7; Apr 10)

Count Horn a conspirator (Tom)

Frederick Clendon (Mar 7)

Harry Mann (Apr 10)

Lord Chief Justice

Jack Wright (Mar 7; Apr 10)

Oscar page to Gustavus (Edgar)

Maud Neilson (Feb 14; Mar 7; Apr 10)

Gustavus III King of Sweden (Riccardo)

Ben Williams (Feb 14; Mar 7; Apr 10)

Mamzell Arvidson a fortune-teller (Ulrica)

Gladys Parr (Mar 7; Apr 10)

Anckarström friend to the king (Renato)

Booth Hitchen (Feb 14; Mar 7; Apr 10)

Christian a sailor (Silvano)

Martin Quinn (Mar 7; Apr 10)

Servant to Amelia

Harry Ashton (Mar 7; Apr 10)

Amelia wife of Anckarström (Adelia)

Eva Turner (Feb 14; Mar 7; Apr 10)

Performance DatesMasked Ball 1923

Map List

King's Theatre, Greenock | Greenock

14 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

7 Mar, 19.15 22 Mar, 19.15

Perth Theatre | Perth

30 Mar, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

10 Apr, 19.15

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