Opera Scotland

Fidelio 1924Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Fidelio

The Carl Rosa company was in the habit of coming to Scotland in February and running its tour through the early spring. In early 1924, from 28 January to 19 April they toured Aberdeen, Perth, Greenock, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Fidelio had not been seen in Scotland for many years, but the presence in the company of a great dramatic soprano and excellent heroic tenor, in Eva Turner and William Boland, together with conductor Charles Webber's extensive experience in Germany, seem to have made it a rather obvious choice for revival.

Such was the success of the run in Glasgow that the company cleared its original schedule to insert three further performances in the final week, including the last Saturday night, which would usually have been given over to lighter material. The Scotsman of Monday, 7 April, lists the cast: 'On Saturday evening an excellent rendering was given of Beethoven's Fidelio, the third performance of this opera during the concluding week. The principal parts were admirably represented by Messrs William Boland, Appleton Moore, E Gilding Clarke, and Freferick Clendon, and Misses Eva Turner and Maude Neilson.'

After that run in Glasgow, the production was well run in for the opening night in Edinburgh on Monday, 7 April, and the Scotsman was also able to devote more space to a performance on its home turf: 'The Leonora, or Fidelio, last night was Miss Eva Turner. Within the last few years she has given many fine performances in Edinburgh, but, so far, she has done nothing so fine as her Leonora. In the great aria in the first act, ''Thou monstrous fiend,'' and in the music of the prison scene, she displayed an impressive dramatic quality, while her voice has gained greatly in beauty since she was last in Edinburgh.'

'Mr William Boland, as Florestan, was also excellent, and his singing of ''Brightly dawned my life's young morning'' was a very distinguished piece of vocal art. Pizarro had an excellent representative in Mr Appleton Moore, and the Rocco of Mr E Gilding Clarke was also good. Miss Maude Neilson made an attractive Marcelline, and Mr J C Jenkins was an effective Jaquino. Mr Frederick Clendon, as the Minister of State, was, as in everything he undertakes, thoroughly artistic.'

'The opera abounds in ensemble numbers, and these were all very well done, while the prisoners' chorus also called for nothing but praise. The important orchestral work, saving a slight unsteadiness in the Overture, was admirable in its rendering, and particularly in the prison scene, the orchestra rose to the demands of a great occasion, while the Leonora Overture, No3, played between the second and third acts, was equally satisfactory. Mr Charles Webber conducted, and the point and vitality of the performance as a whole did him great credit.'

'The mounting of the opera was artistic, although an objection might perhaps be made against Florestan's subterranean dungeon being provided with a window. There was a large audience, and a gratifying display of enthusiasm followed the fall of the curtain.'

To arrive in Dundee on 22 December 1924 was unusual. To stay for a two week season even more so (indeed a unique event in the history of Carl Rosa performances in Dundee). In that era Christmas Day was not a holiday, and the company mounted a performance of Il Trovatore. On New Year's Day, Maritana was on offer. Unusual works being presented were La TraviataMarriage of Figaro and Fidelio. This fortnight in Dundee was not connected to visits to the other Scottish centres, as they left Dundee after Saturday, 3 January 1925, reappearing in Glasgow on 9 March.

A programme (for 7 April at the Lyceum) is archived in Edinburgh Central Library.

Repertoire for the two Dundee weeks was as follows:

First Week: Mon Carmen, Tue Tannhäuser, Wed Tales of Hoffmann, Thu (Christmas Day) Trovatore, Fri Traviata, Sat Mat Faust, Sat Eve Bohemian Girl.

Second Week: Mon Aïda, Tue Butterfly, Wed Marriage of Figaro, Thu (New Year's Day) Maritana, Fri Fidelio, Sat Mat Samson & Delilah, Sat Eve Faust.

Fidelio was by no means a complete novelty in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but this seems to be the first time it was performed north of the central belt. The most notable change since the spring tour is, of course, the arrival in the company of Ethel Austen to take over most of the roles vacated by Eva Turner, who had moved to develop her career at La Scala, Milan, under the guidance of Arturo Toscanini.

Cast details are compiled from reviews in various Dundee newspapers of Saturday, 3 January 1925. There is also a programme for the performance of 7 April in the archives of Edinburgh Central Library.

Performance Cast

Jaquino Rocco's assistant

John C Jenkins (7 Apr)

William Peacock (2 Jan)

Marzelline Rocco's daughter

Maude Neilson (5, 7 Apr)

Eveline Birks (2 Jan)

Leonore Florestan's wife, disguised as Fidelio

Eva Turner (5, 7 Apr)

Ethel Austen (2 Jan)

Rocco gaoler

E Gilding Clarke (5, 7 Apr)

Appleton Moore (2 Jan)

Don Pizarro prison governor

Appleton Moore (5,7 Apr)

Flintoff Moore (2 Jan)

Florestan a Spanish nobleman

William Boland (5, 7 Apr; 2 Jan)

Don Fernando the King's Minister

Frederick Clendon (5, 7 Apr, 2 Jan)

Performance DatesFidelio 1924

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

7 Mar, 19.15 20 Mar, 19.15 1 Apr, 19.15 3 Apr, 19.15 5 Apr, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

7 Apr, 19.15 16 Apr, 19.15

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

2 Jan, 19.15

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