Opera Scotland

Masked Ball 1924Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Ballo in maschera

The Tour

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.

They had brought the little known Verdi piece Un Ballo in maschera into the repertoire for the 1923 tour, with Eva Turner as Amelia. Here it was given being  further performances. Indeed they kept it going for several years, despite her departure to further her career in Italy.

The edition used used was, of course, the Boston version rather than the originally intended Swedish setting that is now generally restored to performance. This nomenclature is still largely the one used even in modern recordings. Thus Gustavus is called Riccardo, Anckarstrom is Renato and the fortune-teller Arvidson is a sorceress called Ulrica. The conspirators Rimming and Horn are simply known as Sam and Tom, while the sailor Christian becomes Silvano. The anonymous translator adds to the confusion by renaming the heroine Amelia as Adelia and the page boy Oscar as Edgar.

Commenting in its issue of Saturday, 9 February, the Aberdeen Press and Journal said: 'The public taste in opera seems to be veering round once more in the direction of new or unfamiliar things. The Mastersingers last week and The Masked Ball last night have filled the theatre more completely than any of the other operas. The favour with which the audience received The Masked Ball seemed to indicate there is still a future for early Verdi opera. Not that this opera is so very early Verdi; it followed Trovatore and Rigoletto and in point of initial success surpassed them both. Half a century ago it was one of the most popular things of the ''grand'' season at Covent Garden; its airs were sung and whistled everywhere. Then it was engulfed in the advancing wave of music drama, while other operas, not its superior in merit, rode gaily on the crest'

'That a work so powerful and fascinating of its kind as The Masked Ball should have dropped from the repertory is one of the mysteries of music.........but its tunes are as fine as anything in Verdi, and generally has a freshness peculiarly its own. The music of Edgar, the page, runs through it like a gold thread, almost Mozartian in style, and possessing a grace and brilliancy foreign to Verdi's style at the time.'

'Mr Williams had some difficult music in the part of Riccardo, and, upon the whole sang it well - those powerful upper notes of his are always attractive. Miss Turner, too, made the utmost use of her high notes. She was less effective in soft and legato passages, and in moments of agitation she was invariably inarticulate. She was no worse, however, in that respect than the others, for, so far as verbal intelligibility was concerned, the opera might just as well have been sung in Italian. If singers would but realise that the only exceuse for opera in English is clear and understandable speech, how much happier our operatic lot would be.'

Performance Cast

Oscar page to Gustavus (Edgar)

Maude Neilson

Gustavus III King of Sweden (Riccardo)

Ben Williams

Mamzell Arvidson a fortune-teller (Ulrica)

Gladys Parr

Anckarström friend to the king (Renato)

Booth Hitchen

Amelia wife of Anckarström (Adelia)

Eva Turner

Performance DatesMasked Ball 1924

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

8 Feb, 19.15

Perth Theatre | Perth

15 Feb, 19.15

King's Theatre, Greenock | Greenock

22 Feb, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

1 Mar, 19.15 17 Mar, 19.15

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