Opera Scotland

Aïda 1922Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Aïda

The Carl Rosa's Scottish tour at the beginning of 1922 was an unusually long one with 21 different operas on display. If the seven renderings of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are regarded as fourteen shows, that totals 105 performances (instead of 98) over the fourteen weeks from 16 January to 22 April embracing five venues. It began in the north-east, with one week in Perth, two in Aberdeen and one in Dundee. There followed an eight week stay in Glasgow, almost a northern headquarters for the company, and two final weeks in Edinburgh.

The most frequently performed operas in the season were Samson and Delilah (11), Carmen (9) and Madam Butterfly (9). Four works received only a single outing - The Valkyrie (in Aberdeen) and Lily of KillarneyBohème and Tosca in Glasgow.

The first week commencing Monday, 16 January, in Perth's delightfully intimate Edwardian auditorium, ran in this order: Mon Carmen; Tue Tales of Hoffmann, Wed Maritana, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Cav & Pag, Sat mat Madam Butterfly, Sat eve Il Trovatore.

In Aberdeen there were changes. Cav & Pag were dropped briefly, but the expanded repertoire saw the introduction of Bohemian GirlFaust and Mignon, as well as some larger-scale works by Verdi (Aïda) and Wagner (Tannhäuser, LohengrinValkyrie).

Dundee had not been visited since 1919 when Her Majesty's became a cinema, but the King's was now available, at least until 1928, when it, too, was acquired by a cinema company. The schedule for the week in Dundee was a fairly standard digest of the existing repertoire - Mon Faust, Tue Carmen, Wed Cav & Pag, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Tannhäuser, Sat Mat Madam Butterfly, and Sat Eve Trovatore.

With eight weeks to fill, it was inevitable that as well as nearly all of the above, a number of works would appear that were not seen elsewhere. These included Lily of Killarney, RigolettoMastersingersBohème and Tosca.


Cast details and comments are for the first performance, as reviewed in the Aberdeen Press and Journal of Thursday, 2 February.

'The story is successful, in so far that it has been the agent of inspiring the scenic effects, the orchestral colours, the wealth of melody, and the massive choruses in which the opera abounds. On these the Carl Rosa Company has concentrated and realised an extraordinarily gorgeous spectacular effect. One wonders how it is possible for an opera company on tour to achieve such a brilliant production. As one scene followed another, the crowded audience was unable to restrain its admiration, and the exquisite flute solo, with its delicate pizzicato string accompaniments at the opening of the Nile Scene, had to be sacrificed to the furore.'

'Not only did the chorus make a harmonious blend in the Egyptian setting, but their singing was the best which we have had. For this we must praise not only the members but Mr Paul Kochs, the conductor, to whom fell the exceedingly difficult task of keeping the large choruses and orchestra together. To his credit be it said that he established a complete sympathy between his vocal and instrumental forces. Never when a soloist was lingering on a high note was the orchestra previous in its entry, and never was there the feeling of orchestra dogging the footsteps of chorus.......The playing of the orchestra also reached a high level. The difficult solo work was given without flaw, the beautifully restrained emotion of the leader's playing at the close of the opera deserving special mention.'

'The company has been undergoing certain alterations, which possibly accounted for a noticeable unevenness among the principals. This defect was most manifest in the earlier scene, and especially in the very fine trio in the first act.......Here is one of the finest ensembles in the opera, giving scope for considerable dramatic illustration. Miss Turner put her whole soul and voice into it. Mr Davies was slightly over restrained in his singing, but Miss Parr failed completely to come through the orchestra. In the big climax at the finish, Miss Turner was audible alone.'

'Mr Lark's Amonasro furnished a further example of the fine character study of which he is capable. He is an actor who can adapt himself to a large variety of roles with a fresh individuality for each. Mr Gwynne Davies' voice appears to have developed since his last visit to Aberdeen. It is marked by a pleasing quality, and he employs it with ease and artistic finish. His range allows him to attack B flat without strain. What is still lacking is a sense of temperament to enable him to forget himself in his part.'

'Miss Gladys Parr was vocally rather overweighted in the exceedingly exacting part of Amneris, but showed that she had a real perception of what was required. She made a personable Princess, and even rose to considerable passion in the Judgment scene. Her weakness in respect of tonal and dramatic interpretation is scale. She deserves praise for the direction of her work.'

'The most successful roles undoubtedly were Mr Kingsley Lark as Amonasro, and Mr Harry Brindle as Ramphis, the High Priest. The powerful tones and clear declamation of the latter raised his interpretation to a high plane, and Mr Brindle has accomplished no more successful piece of work.'

Performance Cast

Radamès Captain of the Guard

Gwynne Davies

Ramfis High Priest

Harry Brindle

Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt

Gladys Parr

Aïda an Ethiopian slave

Eva Turner

King of Egypt

Frederick Clendon

Amonasro King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda

Kingsley Lark

Performance DatesAïda 1922

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

1 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

22 Feb, 19.15 6 Mar, 19.15

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