Opera Scotland

Mefistofele 1912Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Mefistofele

The Carl Rosa continued to revive unusual works to display in the provinces.  Perhaps the most challenging parts of this opera were the massive choral sequenses that began and ended the evening.


An Edinburgh Review

Scotsman: Wednesday, 21 February 1912  (p8)

Carl Rosa Opera Company - Boito's Mefistofele

'A special revival of Signor Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele drew to the King's Theatre last night a large audience.  who from time to time manifested with unmistakeable enthusiasm their appreciation of what was, judged in its entirety, a noteworthy performance.  The piece may be regarded from different standpoints, and the standpoint qualifies the judgment.

'The Faust  legend attracted the attention of musical composers so various in style and temperament as Spohr, Berlioz, Gounod, and Boito,  It was Boito's misfortune that, whereas even when a musical student at Milan Conservatoire the subject of Faust had appealed to his poetic imagination and artistic energies, Gounod anticipated him in 1859 by a popular opera in which the tragic episode of Marguerite was enshrined for all time.

'Boito had a much more serious view of the struggle between Dr Faustus and Mephistopheles;  his work, as it was first produced in Milan,  in 1868, took six hours in the performance, and opinions on its merits and demerits were so pronounced that the stage was stormed, and street conflicts continued until sunrise.  It was a failure, or at the best, a succès d'estime, because of its inordinate length.  But at the same time it marked the passage of Italian opera from the old mixture of pleasing melodies and choruses, of inconsistent plot and illiterate libretto, and of careless or conventional orchestration, to something higher.  Boito was an admirer of Wagner, but no imitator.  He was a poet as well as a musician; and his Shakespearean arrangements of Falstaff and Otello for the rejuvenated Verdi are recognised as dramatic masterpieces.

'The Carl Rosa Opera Company has always been run on the lines of meeting public taste, and so far as possible of raising it.  It is difficult to believe that the great majority of opera-lovers will not always prefer Gounod's melodious and dramatic Faust to the somewhat fantastic and philosophic version of Goethe's legend to which Boito devoted many years of labour, and which was reproduced with much elaborate scenery and dressing last night.  But there is a musical minority who are not satisfied to have annual and perennial repetitions of old favourites;  and to such the revival of Boito's masterpiece will make its chief appeal.

'Revised by the veteran composer in 1875 for performances at Bologna, the work came to London in 1880, and had a temporary success, being produced by the Carl Rosa Company when Mr Carl Rosa was alive, and being after withdrawn.  Apart from its interest as foreshadowing the tendencies - later developed by Verdi,  Ponchielli,  Mascagni,  Leoncavallo,  and Puccini - of the Neo Italian school, the opera is distinguished by a fine spectacular appeal.  Thus in the Brocken Scene, where the Prince of Darkness conjures up the witches and other powers of evil, the effect last night was most impressive;  when the curtain fell it had to be raised again three times, Mr Goossens, the conductor,  Mr Beale, the stage manager, and Mr Winckworth being specially called to the front.

'Mr Winckworth was essentially the predominant figure in the production.  This was not wholly due to such attractions as are involved in a dramatic presence, a sonorous bass voice, and a careful style of verbal utterance;  it is inherent in the drama, in which the chief figure is Mephistopheles.  ''Here's the Earth'' was one of the most striking pieces in the drama.  Mr Frank Christian was Faust, and Miss Ina Hill Margaret; and they were heard at their best in the pathetic prison scene.  Mr Christian has a good deal to learn in the art of voice-production;  but he excels in dramatic delivery.  Miss Ina Hill made her best appearance of the Carl Rosa Company;  she rendered the part of the German maid with appropriate simplicity at first, and later with fine emotional intensity and with vocal art of a high order.  Mr Charles Neville and Miss Claude Albright filled double parts to the satisfaction of the audience.  The opera is set for repetition on Saturday afternoon.'


Scotsman:  Wednesday, 26 February 1912  (p6)

The Carl Rosa Opera Company

'On Saturday evening the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company concluded its fortnight's engagement at the King's Theatre.  There was a matinee performance in the afternoon of Boito's Mefistofele, which had been given with so much success earlier in the engagement.  A fine afternoon may have operated somewhat against the attendance, for there were more vacant seats than one is accustomed to see on such occasions, but the performance was thoroughly enjoyed, and elicited frequent expressions of warm approval.'


The Carl Rosa Scottish Tour - 1912

The tour lasted seven weeks:  Aberdeen 1 week (His Majesty's);  Dundee 1 week (Her Majesty's); Edinburgh 2 weeks (King's);  Greenock 1 week (King's);  Glasgow 2 weeks (Theatre Royal).

The thirteen operas performed were: Benedict (Lily of Killarney);  Nicolai (Merry Wives of Windsor); Thomas (Mignon);  Wallace (Maritana); Wagner (Tannhäuser,  Lohengrin);  Verdi (Trovatore); Gounod (Faust);  Goldmark (Queen of Sheba);  Bizet (Carmen);  Boito (Mefistofele); Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana).

The performance schedule was as follows

Aberdeen, w/c 29 January:  Mon 29 Mignon;  Tue 30 Tannhäuser; Wed 31 The Merry Wives of Windsor; Thu 1 Feb Faust; Fri 2 The Queen of Sheba; Sat 3 m Carmen;  Sat 3 e Il trovatore.

Dundee, w/c  5 February:  Mon 5 Mignon;  Tue 6 Faust;  Wed 7 Carmen;  Thu 8 Cav & Pag;  Fri 9 Queen of Sheba;  Sat 10 m Tannhäuser;  Sat 10 e Trovatore

Edinburgh, w/c 12 February:  Mon 12 Mignon;  Tue 13 Carmen;  Wed 14 Trovatore;  Thu 15 Lohengrin;  Fri 16 Queen of Sheba;  Sat 17 m Tannhäuser;  Sat 17 e Faust.

Edinburgh, w/c 19 February:  Mon 19 Cav & Pag;  Tue 20 Mefistofele;  Wed 21 Lily of Killarney;  Thu 22 Merry Wives of Windsor;  Fri 23 Mignon;  Sat 24 m Mefistofele;  Sat 24 e Maritana.

Greenock, w/c 26 February: Mon 26 tbc; Tue 27 tbc;  Wed 28 Trovatore;  Thu 29 Mignon;  Fri 1 March Mefistofele;  Sat 2 m tbc;  Sat 2 e Carmen.

Glasgow, w/c 4 March:  Mon 4 Tannhäuser;  Tue 5 Mefistofele;  Wed 6 Mignon;  Thu 7 Merry Wives of Windsor;  Fri 8 Lohengrin;  Sat 9 m Mefistofele;  Say 9 e Maritana.

Glasgow, w/c 11 March:  Mon 11 Cav & Pag;  Tue 12 Faust;  Wed 13  Queen of Sheba;  Thu 14 Mignon;  Fri 15 Mefistofele;  Sat 16 m Carmen;  Sat 16 e  Trovatore.

Performance Cast

Mefistofele the devil

Arthur Winckworth (Feb 21)

Faust a learned doctor

Franz Christian (Feb 21)


Ina Hill (Feb 21)

Marta Margherita's neighbour

Claude Albright (Feb 21)

Wagner a pupil of Dr Faust

Charles Neville (Feb 21)

Elena Helen of Troy

Ina Hill (Feb 21)

Pantalis Helen's companion

Claude Albright (Feb 21)


Charles Neville (Feb 21)

Performance DatesMefistofele 1912

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

20 Feb, 19.30 24 Feb, 14.00

Grand Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

5 Mar, 19.30 9 Mar, 14.00 15 Mar, 19.30

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