Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1903J W Turner's English Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

J W Turner's Company had initially concentrated on British operas, with the addition of Fra Diavolo and Faust.   By the turn of the century they were adding some more 'standard repertory' pieces, first Trovatore and now Tannhäuser.  Whether they could compete against Carl Rosa and Moody-Manners remained to be seen.

A notable addition to the squad is Mr W Anderson.  A native of Dundee, this was his first season as a principal, and later in the week he sang Mephistopheles in Faust - a part that he would sing regularly over the next quarter-century with much bigger companies.  In Tannhäuser, in future, he was more likely to be heard as the Landgrave.


The View from Dundee

The Dundee Courier & Argus of Tuesday, November 3 1903 gave its opinion:

Her Majesty’s Theatre - Turner’s Company in “Tannhäuser”

'The Sign of the Cross is all very well, and as a directly religious stage medium is probably not to be surpassed.  But as a work of art compared with Tannhäuser the famous contrast of moonlight and sunlight and water and wine simply fails to express the situation.

'Tannhäuser from beginning to end is art in its highest musical form, and we are indebted to Mr Turner for his production.  He might have produced on the first night of his present visit one of the old battle horses of the operatic stage, but he dared to think that his Dundee friends and admirers wished something fresher, and we are sorry to say that so far as the numbers of the audience were concerned his expectations were not fulfilled.  Tannhäuser - the battle of good against evil - is a religious play in the truest sense, and therefore those who flocked to The Sign of the Cross ought to have been, in some measure at least, present in Her Majesty’s last night.

'Tannhäuser is a most important work musically, and therefore Mr Turner deserves the thanks of the music-loving part of the community for producing it for the second time in Dundee.  No doubt the Wagnerian would demand a production on a much more extensive scale, but he must go to London or Bayreuth for this.

'Last night’s production spoke of high endeavour, fairly well carried out.  It is better art to produce Tannhäuser decently - and we do not mean to apply this adjective to last night’s performance - than to produce some other alleged operas practically to perfection.  The demands are so much greater, and the public who have aspirations after higher things ought to see this and be grateful to Mr Turner.

'Last night’s performance was wonderfully satisfactory all round.  The chorus, so important a factor in Tannhäuser, was strong and tuneful.  The “Pilgrims’ Chorus” was steadily and massively sung, the “March” chorus in the second act went with great vigour and precision, and the unaccompanied chorus in the third act was a charming piece of vocalisation.  The band, increased to over twenty players, did fairly well, but the familiar overture might have been steadier and more piquant in performance.  Mr Tom Lawton, Mr Turner’s conductor, worked most energetically, and did the best possible with the forces at his command.'

'Miss Una Bruckshaw, a new member of Mr Turner’s company, made a most successful appearance as Elizabeth.  She has a big voice, and she seemed to realise perhaps more than any other member of the cast the dramatic scope of the character she portrayed.  Her rendering of the great song in the beginning of the second was full of appropriate dignity and fire.  Miss Louise Henschel made a charming and effective Venus, but she should surely not have appeared at least in the same costume in the second act.  Madame Constance Bellamy, a well-known member of Mr Turner’s company, sang pleasantly as the shepherd boy.

'Mr Edward Arthur, who is a popular member of the company, sang capitally as Tannhäuser.  His acting was, perhaps, not sufficiently dramatic, but vocally he was excellent.  His singing in “The Hall of Song” was vigorous and tuneful, and in the third act he sang with much fervour and dramatic effectiveness.  Mr T Griffiths as Wolfram sang delightfully, although with more than a suspicion of vibrato, and gave the popular “Star of Eve” with all necessary finish and culture.  Mr Sidney Clifford made a vigorous Landgrave, and Mr Charles Le Sueur, Mr W Anderson, Mr Jules Schurmann, and Mr Alic Richard sang well as Walther, Biterolf, Heinrich and Reinmar respectively.  Mr Anderson and Mr Richard were greeted with special warmth on their appearance.'


J W Turner's English Opera Company in Scotland - 1903

Further dates and venues to be confirmed.

Dundee, w/c 2 November:  Mon 2 Tannhäuser;  Tue 3 Bohemian Girl;  Wed 4 Lily of Killarney;  Thu 5 Faust;  Fri 6 Tannhäuser;  Sat 6 m Bohemian Girl;  Sat 6 e Maritana.

Performance Cast


Louise Henschel (Nov 2)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

Edward Arthur (Nov 2)

Shepherd boy

Constance Bellamy (Nov 2)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

Sidney Clifford (Nov 2)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

Mr T Griffiths (Nov 2)

Walther von der Vogelweide a knight and minnesinger

Charles Le Sueur (Nov 2)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

William Anderson (Nov 2)

Heinrich der Schreiber a knight and minnesinger

Jules Schurmann (Nov 2)

Reinmar von Zweter a knight and minnesinger

Alec Richard (Nov 2)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Una Brookshaw (Nov 2)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1903

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

2 Nov, 00.00 6 Nov, 00.00

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2023

Site by SiteBuddha