Opera Scotland

Aïda 1915Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Aïda

It seems surprising that the last Verdi operas should not have roved immediately popular, as is indicated in the Herald notice.  But Aïda has never had that kind of problem in terms of audience popularity.

 

The Opinion in Glasgow

Glasgow Herald: Thursday, 25 February 1915 (p6)

Carl Rosa Opera - Aïda

'The Glasgow opera-goer has not yet shown any great interest in late Verdi, but he is beginning to take kindly to Aïda, which is a kind of bridge between the Rigoletto-Traviata-Trovatore period and the period represented by Othello and Falstaff.  Perhaps in time he may be coaxed to the further side, and so make it worth the while of operatic managers to stage Verdi's most advanced works.  Meantime Aïda is a safe draw.  Mr Manners and Mr Quinlan both included it in their repertory, and the Carl Rosa Company have revived it with conspicuous success.

'Aïda lends itself to handsome staging, and the large audience in the Theatre Royal last night probably admired the brilliant pictures of temple and palace and city gate hardly less than the excellent singing of the principals.  Verdi's characters have black and brown faces, but the passions that move them are the passions that are independent of colour.  Apart from paint and costume, Aïda, Rhadames, Amonasro and  Amneris are Westerns.  The trappings are Egyptian, but the rest is opera, and opera is a characteristically Western product.  That of course is natural.  Composers have probably never attempted to ''think black'' in music, and if they did so their audiences would find them incomprehensible.  Aïda is at bottom an everyday story of love and jealousy, of one man and two women, and the tragedy arising from love's weakness.  If Verdi's vocal and orchestral colour is not the colour of Egypt, it is sufficiently brilliant to make a good substitute, and with the colour goes plenty of melody to make an attractive pattern.

'Mr Hughes Macklin's performance as Rhadames was perhaps a trifle lacking in the heroic note, but it was vocally excellent and dramatically on perfectly safe lines.  Miss Dora Gibson as Aïda sang with the necessary intensity, and was specially good in the solo in the third act.  Miss Christine Oliver made a forcible Amneris; Mr Winckworth was a sonorous high priest, and Mr Hebden Foster as Amonasro and Mr Frederick Clendon as the Egyptian King were in all important respects satisfactory.

'The chorus seemed rather weak in the big finale to the second act, but their performance, along with that of the orchestra and stage band, was generally quite good.  Mr Eugene Goossens was, as always, a careful and an efficient conductor.'

 

An Edinburgh Perspective

The Scotsman: Saturday, 20 March 1915 (p8)

Carl Rosa Opera Company - Verdi's Aïda

For last night's performance Mr Van Noorden had prepared at the Lyceum Theatre a quite excellent production of Verdi's Aïda.  This is a work whose history and character it would be difficult to describe in a few lines.  It marks a long step ahead in operatic music.   It may suffice to say here that it was written ''to order'' of the Khedive of Egypt, to inaugurate his new Opera House, founded in Cairo in 1869.  Its actual production was delayed for two years, and its distinct departure from the old Italian style to something more melodramatic and characteristic of the time, more modern - in short, marked a change in Verdi's outlok, which ultimately asserted itself in Falstaff and Otello, and gave the lead to the Neo-Italian school.

'Last night's production was wholly creditable to the company.  The absence of Miss Doris Woodall, who as billed to play the Egyptian Princess Amneris, was due to delay on the railway on the journey north; but the Carl Rosa Company has great reserves; and Miss Christine Oliver undertook a heavy contralto part with great success, her intonation being always true, and her delivery of the words of the much tried prisoner princess well marked and dramatic.  Miss Dora Gibson, as the ''slave'' to Amneris, and unhappilly equally in love with Radames, the Egyptian war leader, played her part, whether from the point of view of singing or of acting, with consummate art.

'Mr Haigh Jackson, as Radames, maintained his high reputation as a fine dramatic tenor;  Mr Hebden Foster, as the King of Ethiopia, and Mr Arthur Winckworth, as the Egyptian King,  rendered Verdi's dramatic music for all it is worth.

'The piece is essentially melodramatic and spectacular and in this latter aspect the management deserve all praise.  The scenery was a feature of the production of which it was impossible not to take account. So indeed were the ensemble in which chorus, orchestra and the special trumpets in the Thebes scene. The audience, which included the Lord Provost, might in view of the character of the performance have been larger.'

NB.  The listing for Edinburgh of Arthur Winckworth as the King of Egypt is an error.  His part was Ramfis, the High Priest.  In the rview of Mignon it is made clear that the King was sung very well by Walter Underwood.

 

The Carl Rosa Scottish tour - 1915

The Carl Rosa Scottish tour in spring 1915 consisted of three weeks in Glasgow (Theatre Royal), followed by two weeks in Edinburgh (Lyceum).

The fifteen operas performed were by Mozart (Don GiovanniMagic Flute);  Wagner (Tannhäuser);  Verdi (Trovatore,  Aïda); Balfe (Bohemian Girl);  Wallace (Maritana);  Nicolai (Merry Wives of Windsor);  Gounod (Faust);  Thomas (Mignon);  Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana);  Wolf-Ferrari (Jewels of the Madonna)

The performance schedule was as follows:

Glasgow, w/c 22 February: Mon 22 Tales of Hoffmann; Tue 23 Faust;  Wed 24 Aïda;  Thu 25 Jewels of the Madonna;  Fri 26 Carmen;  Sat 27 m Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 27 e Bohemian Girl.

Glasgow, w/c  1 March: Mon 1 Mar Cav & Pag; Tue 2 Magic Flute;  Wed 3 Tannhäuser;  Thu 4 Mignon;  Fri 5 Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 6 m Aïda;  Sat 6 e Maritana.

Glasgow, w/c 8 March: Mon 8 Mar Don Giovanni;  Tue 9 Faust;  Wed 10 Trovatore;  Thu 11 Merry Wives of Windsor;  Fri 12 Aïda;  Sat 13 m Carmen;  Sat 13 e Tales of Hoffmann.

Edinburgh, w/c 15 March: Mon 15 Tales of Hoffmann;  Tue 16 Tannhäuser;  Wed 17 Faust;  Thu 18  Magic Flute;  Fri 19 Aïda;  Sat 20 m Carmen;  Sat 20 e Trovatore.

Edinburgh, w/c 22 March: Mon 22 Cav & Pag;  Tue 23 Tales of Hoffmann;  Wed 24 Mignon;  Thu 25 Merry Wives of Windsor;  Fri 26 Don Giovanni;  Sat 27 m Aïda;  Sat 27 e Tales of Hoffmann.

Performance Cast

Ramfis High Priest

Arthur Winckworth (Feb 23; Mar 19)

Radamès Captain of the Guard

Hughes Macklin (Feb 23)

Haigh Jackson (Mar 19)

Amneris daughter of the King of Egypt

Christine Oliver (Feb 23; Mar 19)

Aïda an Ethiopian slave

Dora Gibson (Feb 23; Mar 19)

King of Egypt

Frederick Clendon (Feb 23)

Walter Underwood (Mar 19)

Amonasro King of Ethiopia and father of Aïda

Hebden Foster (Feb 23; Mar 19)

Performance DatesAïda 1915

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

24 Feb, 19.15 6 Mar, 14.00 12 Mar, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

19 Mar, 19.30 27 Mar, 14.00

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