Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1905Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

The reviewer for the Glasgow Herald ((28 March) said  'In the matter of attendance the Carl Rosa Company began fairly well last night with Tannhäuser.   The Grand Theatre could have held a few more people, but the place had at least a well-filled appearance.

'The Carl Rosa Company must evoke in Glasgow opera-lovers the most pleasant memories.   Somehow in the early Carl Rosa days there was a youthful enthusiasm about things operatic that seems quite lacking at present.  There were great worlds to conquer in those days.  When we look down the line of Wagnerian and other operas produced for the first time in English by the indefatigable Rosa we realise how much we owe to him.

'The company has, of course, changed much in the course of time.   At present it is remarkably strong on its vocal side.   It is a long time since we heard the smaller roles in Tannhäuser filled with such distinction.   In the tournament of song all the singers, without exception, were worth listening to, and, needless to say, this unusual state of affairs added greatly to one's enjoyment.   The solo of the shepherd boy, that opens the second scene of the first act, was also very prettily sung.   The chorus is not a very large one, but it too, is thoroughly efficient.   The difficult problem of first tenor seems to have been satisfactorily solved.   Altogether, the Carl Rosa Company does not depend only on the 'stars'.

'Mr Hedmondt, with diminished vocal powers, may be regarded as a victim to Wagnerian roles.  Yet though his voice is not at all what it was, he is such a fine artist that one almost forgets his vocal limitations.  He is still the best Tannhäuser we have had in Glasgow.  Last night we had again Wagner's minstrel knight, never a little anything, but each thing fully and entirely  as energetic in sin as in saintliness.  Mr Hedmondt's Tannhäuser should not be missed by those who have not seen it.

'Madame Sobrino made vocally a quite convincing Elisabeth, although she did not give the character much colour.  Mr Arthur Winckworth was a splendid Landgrave, and hardly less good was the Wolfram of Mr Lewys James.   The smaller parts, divided amongst Miss Douglas-Wilson, Miss Ethel Pender-Cudlip, and Messrs Frank Arthur, Henry Bateman, Albert Fenton and Edward Davies were filled, as we have already said, with every success.   A better all-round stage performance of Tannhäuser we have seldom heard.  

'Excellent as was the work done behind the footlights,  the performance, as a whole, was considerably marred by a very unsatisfactory orchestra, under Mr Eugene Goossens.   The strings were especially trying.  We suppose from a touring opera company we cannot expect everything.   But the Carl Rosa management really should see to their band.  Last night its thin 'scratchy' tones were an almost continuous annoyance.   With the instrumental on a level with the vocal, the company might even better their former best days."


Six singers are mentioned in the review without specifying roles.  An element of judicious guesswork has been applied, paricularly for the minor minnesingers - two tenors and two basses.  None of the six has been recorded as performing in Tannhäuser during other seasons.

The reason for the orchestral difficulties is clear.   The company's usual Glasgow venue was the Theatre Royal, whose pit band were highly familiar with most of the operatic works toured (and novelties would usually be played on Friday, to provide extra rehearsal time).  Their job was to merge in with the band of players toured by the company.  If, as here, the Theatre Royal was not available, an alternative was sought.  The resident musicians at the Grand were used to playing for music hall and touring musical comedy.  They were not accustomed to having to perform a Wagner score after a couple of hours rehearsal.   This must have been a challenge even for Eugene Goossens.  How they coped with Tristan can only be imagined.


On this return to Scotland after an absence of a few years, Carl Rosa Opera's  performances were as follows:-

Week 1, comm 27 Mar: Mon 27 Tannhäuser; Tue 28 Don Giovanni; Wed 29 Faust; Thu 30 Lohengrin; Fri 31 Rigoletto; Sat 1 Apr m Cav & Pag; Sat 1 Apr e Maritana.

Week 2, comm 3 Apr: Mon 3 Faust; Tue 4 Tristan and Isolde; Wed 5 Rigoletto; Thu 6 Tannhäuser; Fri 7 Marriage of Figaro; Sat 8 m Don Giovanni; Sat 8 e Carmen.

Performance Cast


Jean Douglas-Wilson (Mar 27)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

Charles Hedmondt (Mar 27)

Shepherd boy

Ethel Pender-Cudlip (Mar 27)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

Lewys James (Mar 27)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

Arthur Winckworth (Mar 27)

Walther von der Vogelweide a knight and minnesinger

Edward Davies (Mar 27)

Heinrich der Schreiber a knight and minnesinger

Albert Fenton (Mar 27)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

Frank Arthur (Mar 27)

Reinmar von Zweter a knight and minnesinger

Henry Bateman (Mar 27)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Madame Sobrino (Mar 27)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1905

Map List

Grand Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

27 Mar, 19.30 6 Apr, 19.30

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