Opera Scotland

Lustigen Weiber von Windsor 1915Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Merry Wives of Windsor

Nicolai's sparkling adaptation of Shakespeare was a highly popular repertoire piece until Verdi's version at last achieved recognition after the First World War.  Surely there should be room for both to be performed on a regular basis.  There is far more to Nicolai's masterpiece than the justly popular overture.


Edinburgh Opinion

Scotsman, Friday 26 March 1915 (p7)

Nicolai's Marry Wives of Windsor

'Although the overture to Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor keeps its place on the concert-platform, the opera itself has in recent years been crowded out in the competition between the new music-drama and the old.  Its revival by the Carl Rosa Opera Company in the Lyceum Theatre was at once a tribute to a great piece of musical comedy, and a proof of the versatility of the singers.  First produced in Berlin in 1849, this operatic version of the humours and foibles of Falstaff had an immediate success.  The words were, needless to say, arranged from Shakespeare, the librettist being Mosenthal.

'The three acts deal with the fat Knight's experiences in love-making with Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, his concealment in the clothes basket which is thrown into the river, his thrashing while disguised as the fortune-telling woman of Brentford, and his midnight ordeal in the forest, when he is besieged by the conspirators in the guise of fairies, sprites, and hob-goblins.  Both Balfe before, and Verdi after Nicolai utilised Falstaff for operatic purposes as the central figure;  but it is doubtful if for sheer merriment Nicolai's version does not bear the bell.

'Last night's production was at all points excellent   The cast included some of the strongest and most popular members of the company,  Mr Winckworth being Falstaff,  Mr Hebden Foster Ford, Mr Frederick Clendon Page.  But though in some aspects of the piece the interest centres in the male characters, the two great parts, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, who provide much of the fun of the piece, were, as presented by Miss Elizabeth Burgess and Miss Doris Woodall, a distinct influence in the general success of a performance that suggested that, so long as the standard can be mantained, the opera should be kept on the permanent list of the ''classics.''

'There were special moments, the duet between Mrs Page and Mrs Ford in Act 1,  Falstaff's praise of sack in Act 2,  the lovers' duet in which Miss Pauline Donnan as Anne Page and Mr Edward Davies as Fenton - were associated, that stood out in a performance that was so fine in its general character as to permit of little exceptional distinction.  Mr Hebden Foster sang and acted splendidly as the jealous Mr Ford.  His delivery of the words is always clear and impressive.

'Mr Reginald Gordon made himself as much of an ''exquisite'' in the rôle of Master Slender as the part required.  A touch of foreign accent gave character to the Dr Caius of Mr Walter Underwood.  But, all over, the opera furnished excellent entertainment,  Mr Winckworth, as Falstaff, always predominating.

'Mr Van Noorden, who conducted, secured an admirable rendering of the ever-popular overture, taking it at an engaging speed; and all through the orchestra was efficient without being aggressive.  The scenery was quite in keeping with the general excellence of the performance.  The ballet in the last scene was happily staged in the woodland.'


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

Mrs Ford Frau Fluth, wife of Ford

Elizabeth Burgess (Mar 25)

Mrs Page Frau Reich, wife of Page, Anne's mother

Doris Woodall (Mar 25)

Anne Page Jungfer Anna Reich, daughter of Page

Pauline Donnan (Mar 25)

Fenton a young gentleman

Edward Davies (Mar 25)

Ford Herr Fluth, a Windsor merchant

Hebden Foster (Mar 25)

Page Herr Reich, a Windsor merchant

Frederick Clendon (Mar 25)

Slender Junker Spärlich, an elderly gentleman

Reginald Gordon (Mar 25)

Dr Caius a French gentleman

Walter Underwood (Mar 25)

Sir John Falstaff a knight

Arthur Winckworth (Mar 25)

Performance DatesLustigen Weiber von Windsor 1915

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

11 Mar, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

25 Mar, 19.30

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