Opera Scotland

Elisir d'amore 1849Italian Operatic Company

Read more about the opera Elixir of Love

The late summer of 1849 saw a Scottish visit by what was billed as the Italian Operatic Company. The tour took in the Theatres Royal in Edinburgh (two weeks) and Glasgow (four), generally performing on three nights of the week.

The repertoire was chosen from major works of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini that are once again familiar today, even if they largely disappeared from sight for an intervening century.

In Edinburgh, prices of admission were: Boxes, 5s; Pit, 3s; Lower Gallery, 2s; Upper Gallery, 1s. No Second Price (i.e. no discounts for people arriving when the show was under way).

The following information is compiled from advertisements and reviews in various editions of the Caledonian Mercury and The Scotsman (for Edinburgh) with the Glasgow Gazette and Glasgow Herald.

The leading soprano, Signora Montenegro, was  billed as 'of La Scala Milan, Vienna, all the Italian Operas, and her Majesty's Theatre, London'. The other ladies were advertised as Madlle Montelli, from the Opera, Amsterdam and Madame Vittorio, from the Opera, Amsterdam.

The gentlemen were Signor Santiago, of the Academie Royale, Paris; Signor Montelli, from the San Carlo, Naples; Signor Bailini, of the Opera, Turin; Signor Vittorio, of the Opera, Amsterdam; and Signor Tommaso, from the Royal Opera, St Petersburgh.

The conductor was Monsieur A Hennin. The orchestra was recruited locally, larger than the theatre's usual band, and was led by Mr A Mackenzie, an excellent local violinist, whose son grew up to become a highly noted composer, Sir Alexander Mackenzie.

The performance schedule for the Edinburgh stay was: Tue Aug 21 Norma; Thu Aug 23 Lucia di Lammermoor; Sat Aug 25 Il barbiere di Siviglia; Tue Aug 28 Lucrezia Borgia; Thu Aug 30 L'elisir d'amoreand last act of La Favorite; Sat Sep 1 La sonnambula.

The Glasgow schedule ran thus: Tue Sep 4 Norma, Thu Sep 6 Lucrezia Borgia; Sat Sep 8 Lucia di Lammermoor; Mon Sep 10 L'elisir d'amore and last act of La Favorite; Wed Sep 12 no perf; Fri Sep 14no perf; Mon Sep 17 Lucrezia Borgia; Wed Sep 19 Norma; Fri Sep 21 tbc; Mon Sep 24 La sonnambula; Wed Sep 26 Don Pasquale; Sat Sep 29 tbc.

Some gaps remain to be filled. It seems unlikely that such popular works as Il barbiere di Siviglia and Don Pasquale should only have received one performance each, with La Favorite appearing only as a makeweight.

In reviewing L'elisir, the Caledonian Mercury of 3 September had slight reservations - 'Madlle Montelli, as Adina, sang very sweetly, fluently, and expressively, and acted very well, but a want of firmness and strength of voice made her lose many effective points.' However, 'Signor Santiago, as Nemorino, well described the different emotions of the fond and jealous lover, from the careless levity and mirth caused by the wine the quack administers as the ''elixir of love'' to the tender sentiments he addresses to Adina. His singing of ''Una furtiva lagrima' was full of beauty and pathos, and was the most touching point of the opera.' 

Donizetti's charming rustic comedy was considered too short for one evening's entertainment on this tour. The programme was completed with the addition of the final (fourth) act of Donizetti's recent tragedy La Favorite. This Parisian piece was sung in the original French, and featured Signora Montenegro and Signor Santiago as Léonor and Fernand. They were reputed to have enjoyed great success with these roles in Paris. The Caledonian Mercury was enthusiastic. 'Signor Santiago gave the mournful ballad ''Ange si pur'' with soul-felt and thrilling expression, and throughout his part the conflicting emotions of grief, love, and honour, and the recollections of byegone happiness, now for ever perished by his monastic vows, were vividly pourtrayed.' Of Signora Montenegro it says 'Her recognition of her lover's voice among the choir at their devotions in the chapel, and her warm appeals during her subsequent interview with him, were given with great feeling and emphasis, and the beautiful duet between them, in which the raptures of love were once more awakened, was given with a power that excited the audience to great enthusiasm.' Balthasar, the prior, was sung by Signor Montelli, who 'rendered his part with dignified and solemn effect.'

Performance Cast

Nemorino a young peasant

Signor Santiago

Adina a wealthy farm owner

Madlle Montelli

Belcore a sergeant

Signor Bailini

Dulcamara a quack doctor

Signor Montelli

Giannetta a peasant girl

Madame Vittorio

Production Cast


Mons A Hennin

Performance DatesElisir d'amore 1849

Map List

Theatre Royal, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

30 Aug, 20.00

Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 Sep, 20.00

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