Opera Scotland

Lohengrin 1913Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Lohengrin

Only three performances of Lohengrin were given on the Scottish leg of the 1913 tour, with Dundee missing out altogethe.  It is interesting that the Aberdeen critic ends his remarks with a complaint about the imposition of cuts in the score - a regrettable practice that would remain standard for the next half century, but is seldom remarked on.

 

The Northern View

Aberdeen Press & Journal:  Wednesday, 22 January 1913  (p7)  

'The Carl Rosa Opera Company did well to include a performance of Lohengrin in their week's programme, but apparently the Aberdeen theatre-going public were not of the same opinion.  The scanty audience of last evening not only served to demonstrate the complete lack of discrimination of the mususical public, but was an injustice to what was a laudable effort on the part of the management towards their education.  It is not very easy to explain why Lohengrin does not receive more of the attention it deserves.  There are probably hundreds to whom Wagner is known by Tannhäuser and nothing else, but whether this is so or not, it is certain that Lohengrin is overshadowed by Tannhäuser to judge by performances in the provinces.

'Last night's performance, taken all over, was highly enjoyable and satisfying. What defects there were were simply due to the limitations of an itinerant company. (comprising RienziThe Flying DutchmanTannhäuser,  and Lohengrin);   Lohengrin is the most mature, as it is the latest in date, being completed in 1846 - two years after Tannhäuser.  And not only so, but it is perhaps more representative of Wagner's methods than any of his work prior to Tristand and Isolde.  Lohengrin, in fact, among Wagner's earlier works, may be said to be mature without being advanced.  There is much more evident breaking away from convention and precedent, and foreshadowing of his later and fully-matured style in Lohengrin than is to be found in Tannhäuser.

'The long overture, constructed on well defined themes, has been replaced by the shorter and much more apt  ''Vorspiel''  as a preface to the work;  each act is more decidedly continuous and symphonic from beginning to end;  the treatment of the orchestra is more elaborate, and it is used more freely with deliberate dramatic purpose; and not the least important feature is the use of the principle of leitmotif, which, while nothing like so prevalent in Lohengrin as in Wagner's later works, is calculated and consistent throughout.

'Thus from the purely musical side, Lohengrin is a work of great importance, as being representative of all that is best, while at the same time characteristic in Wagner's early period.  But there are many other features of the work which will always make it an especial favourite - even though they do not possess the high intrinsic value belonging to the music.  This is due to the fact that Wagner was his own librettist, and thus made himself responsible for the whole production, including the very stage directions and such matters, and to this fact is largely due that atmosphere which pervades Wagner's works, and which is so peculiarly fascinating.  In Lohengrin the subject, as in most of Wagner's stage works, is drawn from traditional story and national legend. 

'In Lohengrin also, as he has done once or twice elsewhere,  Wagner has mixed up legend with history, with a peculiar and mystifying result.  To inquire into the correctness or appropriateness of either would be irrelevant, and in the face of such sheer sensuous enjoyment pedantic and absurd. In Lohengrin, for example, where Wagner, in order to introduce Henry the Fowler,  opens the first act with a bit of solid history, and thus assigns a precise date to the piece.  It is idle to inquire whether or not the story of Lohengrin could possibly have been associated with that period, and whether it did not, as has been supposed, originate some two hundred years later after the First Crusade.

'If, further, Wagner has set the whole opera in a background of chivalry and heraldry and such things, we need not stop to inquire whether these things were current at the time of Henry the Fowler, or whether they were not.  Suffice it that Wagner has achieved in Lohengrin a most gorgeous atmosphere of mediaevalism and mysticism.  The splendid mediaevalism of the second act of Lohengrin is a piece of artistry with which few things can compare.

'Last night's performance, taken all over, was enjoyable and satisfying.  Whet defects there were were simply due to the limitations of an itinerant company.  The principals, with the possible exception of Miss Phyllis Archibald as Ortrud,  seemed, one and all, to be a trifle stiff and colourless.  In Wagner this is not amiss, though it may sound like herest to say so; for Wagner's parts are so often inclined to appear overdrawn that a more than usual amount of restraint strikes one as being a good antidote.  But we strongly suspect that the scant proprtions of the audience were accountable for their lethargy and depression, and if so, we cannot blame them.

''Mr Hedmondt's :ohengrin, thus restrained, was pleasing and adequate, and though obviously suffering from a cold, he delivered his trying part with fine effect and good taste.  Miss Ina Hill's Elsa, strangely enough, gave the same impression - that of deliberate restraint without a suspicion of inadequacy, and certainly the part is one which calls for seriousness and dignity as the very first consideration..  Mr Hebden Foster as Telramund was less successful in his singing than in his action, but the part is difficult and at times thankless.  Miss Phyllis Archibald, as we have indicated, was conspicuously sccessful.  She posesses an ease and subtlety that should stand her in good stead in parts like these.  A very distinct success was achieved by Mr (line missing) but less so as regards expression, and were musically requiring dignity and breadth.

'The chorus were well trained as regards precision, but less so as regards expression, and were not so well balanced as they might have been as between the male and female voices.  The female choruses were particularly well done, and so, phe whole, were the male choruses, but they joined forces they lost their proportions.

'The chorus work in Lohengrin is heavy and important, and here we cannot omit to remark the exceeding unfortunate ''cuts'' which seem now to be quite customary, if not necessary.  Large slices of chorus work were cut, which made a decided loss to the beauty and coherency of the work. The male choruses of the second Act are among the finest things of their kind ever written, but last evening we had to be content with the veriest snatches.  The question of ''cuts,'' however, is a difficult one.  For most people Lohengrin is long enough without them and our conductors have to make a difficult choice between undue length on the one hand and a mutilated work on the other.

'A word of praise must be accorded to the orchestra.  Their playing was generally most enjoyable, and considering their inadequate numbers and the difficulty of the work, highly creditable.  That very uncertain commodity, the wood-wind and brass,  were in particular an agreeable surprise, and went a long way to make what we have already described as a satisfactory and enjoyable performance - barring only those horrible ''cuts.''  The pity is that Lohengrin should so fail to attract anything like a proper house.''

 

A Brief Comment from  Edinburgh

Scotsman:  Saturday, 8 February 1913  (p8)

Carl Rosa Opera Company - Lohengrin

At the King's Theatre last evening the opera was Wagner's Lohengrin.  There was a good attendance.  The part of Lohengrin was taken by Mr William Wegener, who more than sustained the good reputation which has preceded his first visit to Edinburgh.  He combines the quality of robust tone with considerable finish in the lighter dramatic shades;  and his stage presence in a part that is distinctly formal, was in his favour.  Outside of Mr Wegener's Lohengrin the rendering of the opera was chiefly distinguished by its elaborate stage presentment, and by an exceedingly careful rendering of the orchestration, under the direction of Mr Eugene Goossens.

'The Elsa of Miss Ina Hill was vocally good.  Miss Hill is always in tune, and it seems almost hypercritical to suggest that dramatically the part was weak, for Elsa is, after all, a milk-and-water heroine.  But in the duet with Ortrud in the second act, the honours, so far as the depiction of the dramatic contents of the scene was involved, lay with Miss Phyllis Archibald.  She sang and played the part of the vengeful woman with considerable power.  Mr Winckworth, Mr Hebden Foster, and Mr Frederick Clendon filled the parts of Henry the Fowler, Telramund, and the Herald in quite satisfactory fashion, though without any marked distinction.'

 

Carl Rosa Scottish Tour - 1913

This late winter Scottish season conisisted of seven weeks, each with seven performances.  After a week in Aberdeen (w/c 20 Jan) then one in Dundee (w/c 27 Jan), there followed three in Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre (commencing 3 Feb, 10 Feb, 17 Feb) and two in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal (w/c 24 Feb; 3 Mar).  Two performances originally scheduled of Jewels of the Madonna in Edinburgh were cancelled to allow for more rehearsals.  The operas that replaced them were Mefistofele (20 Feb) and Magic Flute (22 Feb mat)

The sixteen operas performed were by:  Mozart (Don GiovanniZauberflöte);  Benedict (Lily of Killarney);  Balfe (Bohemian Girl);  Thomas (Mignon);  Wallace (Maritana);  Wagner (TannhäuserLohengrin);  Verdi (Trovatore);  Gounod (Faust);  Goldmark (Queen of Sheba);  Boito (Mefistofele);  Bizet (Carmen);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana);  Wolf-Ferrari (Jewels of the Madonna).

The performance schedule was:

Aberdeen, w/c 20 January:  Mon 20 Carmen;  Tue 21 Lohengrin;  Wed 22 Trovatore;  Thu  23 Mefistofele;  Fri 24 Magic Flute;  Sat 25 m Tannhäuser;  Sat 25 e Mignon.

Dundee, w/c  27 January:  Mon 27 Tannhäuser;  Tue 28 Magic Flute;  Wed 29 Mignon;  Thu 30 Trovatore;  Fri 31 Mefistofele;  Sat 1 Feb m Carmen;  Sat 1 Feb e Bohemian Girl.

Edinburgh, w/c 3 February:  Mon 3 Tannhäuser;  Tue 4 Mignon;  Wed 5 Magic Flute;  Thu 6 Trovatore;  Fri 7 Lohengrin;  Sat 8 m Faust;  Sat 8 e Bohemian Girl.

Edinburgh, w/c 10 February:  Mon 10 Magic Flute;  Tue 11 Queen of Sheba;  Wed 12 Carmen;  Thu 13 Maritana;  Fri 14 Magic Flute;  Sat 15 m Mignon;  Sat 15 e Lily of Killarney.

Edinburgh, w/c 17 February:  Mon 17 Cav & Pag;  Tue 18 Don Giovanni;  Wed 19 Faust;  Thu 20 Mefistofele;  Fri 21 Tannhäuser;  Sat 22 m Magic Flute;  Sat 22 e Trovatore.

Glasgow, w/c 24 February:  Mon  24 Magic Flute;  Tue 25 Mignon;  Wed 26 Trovatore;  Thu 27 Cav & Pag;  Fri 28 Jewels of the Madonna;  Sat 1 Mar m Tannhäuser;  Sat 1 Mar e Faust.

Glasgow, w/c  3 March:  Mon 3 Lohengrin;  Tue 4 Jewels of the Madonna;  Wed 5 Magic Flute;  Thu 6 Mignon;  Fri  7 Carmen :  Sat 8 m Jewels of the Madonna;  Sat 8 e Magic Flute.

Performance Cast

Heerufer Royal Herald

Frederick Clendon (Jan 21; Feb 7)

Heinrich Henry the Fowler, King of Germany

Arthur Winckworth (Jan 21; Feb 7)

Friedrich von Telramund Count of Brabant

Hebden Foster (Jan 21; Feb 7)

Ortrud Friedrich's wife

Phyllis Archibald (Jan 21; Feb 7)

Elsa von Brabant sister of the missing Count Gottfried

Ina Hill (Jan 21; Feb 7)

Lohengrin a knight

Charles Hedmondt (Jan 21)

William Wegener (Feb 7)

Performance DatesLohengrin 1913

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

21 Jan, 19.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

7 Feb, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

3 Mar, 19.15

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