Opera Scotland

Tales of Hoffmann 1915Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tales of Hoffmann

The substantial number of performances scheduled in each city is a clear indication of the great popularity of Tales of Hoffmann, which had not long been a fixture in the Carl Rosa repertoire.

Offenbach's serious masterpiece took several decades to be accepted in the Carl Rosa repertoire, but now it had arrived it would continue to be produced right up to the end when operations ceased.

In accordance with standard performance practice of the day, the three acts were performed in the order Olympia - Giulietta - Antonia.  More recent editorial decisions following intensive research, has generally concluded, since around 1970, that the correctorder is Olympia - Antonia - Giulietta.  Characters are listed below following the order of this revised practice. 

The cast is drawn from a copy of the programme for 15 & 16 March in the OperaScotland collection.


An Edinburgh Perspective

Scotsman: Tuesday, 16 March 1915 (p8)

Carl Rosa Opera Company - Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann

'The Carl Rosa Opera Company is with us once again.  Whatever may be thought of the abandonment of public sports and amusements in time of war, it is generally agreed that music comes rather as a solace and distraction to minds that are disposed to dwell overmuch on the sadder side of things.  Although the musical profession has in one sense been hard hit, in another sense there have never been so many opportunities for true talent to find its place in the public ear as there has been since the beginning of August.  It reflects high credit on the Carl Rosa management that, despite the experience of past vicissitudes, they should have resolved to continue the running of a great musical concern without interruption.

'There was a large and encouraging audience in the Lyceum Theatre last night, when The Tales of Hoffmann, a fantastic opera, by Jacques Offenbach and Jules Barbier,  opened the first week of the company's Edinburgh fortnight.  Adapted from three of E T A Hoffmann's Tales, and first produced in Paris in Februry 1881, this opera never secured its deserved vogue; and it was only a few years ago,  when it was revived in English in London, that its merits seized the musical public.  It has since been regularly on the boards, and it will be presented three times during the Carl Rosa Edinburgh fortnight.

'The idea of combining in one opera three different operettas, with only the connecting link of Hoffmann himself, the dashing but unhappy student-lover, and his fidus Achates, the youthful Nicklaus, is quite in accord with our latter-day notions of brevity and variety.  It is by no means a pasticcio, but rather an operatic triptych, enfolded by a prologue and epilogue, and taking on a continuity of musical colour by the introduction of the supernatural element in each picture.  The dramatic interest never flags; the music is never dull.  Its prominence in the Carl Rosa Company's repertoire has been justified by experience.

'Last night's performance was in few parts defective and in most parts excellent.  There were changes in the cast since the last visit - as is inevitable in a company that carries 150 artists, and in a season during which colds seem to have been more than usually aggressive to those who make their living on the boards.

'The title-role of Hoffmann was taken by Mr Haigh Jackson, in place of Mr Edward Davies,  who had been called away owing to the death of a near relative.  Mr Jackson has a strong and sympathetic tenor voice, which, with study and cultivation, may yet carry him far.  There are minor faults in his style of production,  which may easily be eliminated, and he possesses the advantages of clear delivery of the words and considerable ease in stage deportment.

'Nicklaus, a contralto part familiar in grand opera - Mercutio, Siebel and the rest recall themselves, in which a boy is reresented by a girl alto - was charmingly played and sung throut by Miss Phyllis Davies.  She acted quietly and well as the friend of the over-amorous Hoffmann, and bore her full share of the honours in the duet ''Lovely night.''   Miss Pauline Donnan made quite a hit as the ''Doll'' in the first part of the opera.  She made the audience realize by her acting when the idea of La Poupée was derived, and in her somewhat elaborate vocal excursions she drew the mean between the humour of the part and the just delivery of the music.

'A special word of praise is due to Mr Hebden Foster, who, as the spirit of evil in the second and third acts, sang with excellent vocal art and with the sardonic accent that Gounod's Faust has  associated to all eternity with the operatic ''Prince of Darkness.''  It remains to mention the Giulietta of Miss Dora Gibson, a sweet and powerful soprano;  and Miss Julia Caroli, who as Antonia spoiled an otherwise tuneful and tasteful rendering of this subtle but sketchy parody of La Dame aux  Camellias by an excessive use of the vibrato device, in order to produce an emotional effect which really resides in the music itself,  if simply sung.  Mr Frederick Clendon's name should be added honoris causa to a necessarily long list.  He is dramatically and vocally one of the best men in the company.

'The piece was beautifully set, Luther's Wine Cellar in Nuremberg being particularly realistic.  Under the conductorship of Mr Ronald Mackenzie, the orchestra played admirably throughout.'


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

Nicklausse Hoffmann's friend

Phyllis Davies (Mar 15)

Nathaniel a student

Archibald Hill (Mar 15)

Hermann a student

Walter Underwood (Mar 15)

Luther an innkeeoer

Tom Hamilton (Mar 15)

Hoffmann a poet

Haigh Jackson (Mar 15)

Olympia a doll

Pauline Donnan (Mar 15)

Spalanzani an Italian inventor

Robert Brookes (Mar 15)

Cochenille Spalanzani's servant

Reginald Gordon (Mar 15)

Coppélius a scientist, Spalanzani's rival

Frederick Clendon (Mar 15)

Antonia Crespel's daughter

Julia Caroli (Mar 15)

Crespel a councillor of Munich

Frederick Clendon (Mar 15)

Franz Crespel's servant

Albert Felton (Mar 15)

Dr Miracle a doctor

Hebden Foster (Mar 15)

Antonia's mother a spirit voice

Phyllis Davies (Mar 15)

Giulietta a courtesan

Dora Gibson (Mar 15)

Schlemil Giulietta's lover

Walter Underwood (Mar 15)

Pitichinaccio Giulietta's admirer

Reginald Gordon (Mar 15)

Dapertutto a sorcerer

Hebden Foster (Mar 15)

Performance DatesTales of Hoffmann 1915

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

22 Feb, 19.15 27 Feb, 14.00 5 Mar, 19.15 13 Mar, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

15 Mar, 19.30 23 Mar, 19.30 27 Mar, 19.30

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