Opera Scotland

Rigoletto 1955Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Rigoletto

During his years with the Carl Rosa company, Charles Craig sang countless performances of leading roles such as Duke of Mantua, Rodolfo and Faust. He found this period an excellent training ground from which to advance towards his long international career.

The Polish bass Stanislav Pieczora was over six feet tall and slim, therefore natural casting for villains. He spent time working as a doctor before he switched to singing. Like Craig, he moved to Sadler's Wells following the demise of the Carl Rosa company. 

Gwen Catley was a popular musical personality on radio, and she made many recordings. She appeared as a guest artist with Carl Rosa, singing the role of Gilda, largely because of the reputation she gained singing "Caro Nome" twice nightly for two years during the war in London's variety theatres.

Unlike the newly re-introduced Dundee venue, the Glasgow Theatre Royal was a regular feature of Carl Rosa tours. Works shown only in Glasgow were Don Giovanni, Carmen, The Tales of Hoffmann and Tannhäuser. Both cities saw Bohème, Barber of Seville, Cav & Pag, Rigoletto, Trovatore and Faust.


Dundee Press Opinion

Dundee Courier & Advertiser: Wednesday, May 25, 1955

Ovation for baritone in “Rigoletto”

'There are a mere handful of operatic roles which bring a baritone to the front of the curtain calls in precedence over tenor and soprano. Verdi's tragic jester Rigoletto, performed by the Carl Rosa Company at the Gaumont Theatre, Dundee last night, is at the top of this very short list.

'Joseph Satariano, who has specialised in this exacting part for many years, well deserved the ovation he received at the end of a performance which gripped hard with intensity and intellectual force.  He was deeply inside the mentality of the misshapen mixture of emotions - the tenderness, the bitterness and the vengeful nature which results in the violent death of his beloved daughter.  Unlike some other interpreters, his hunchback make-up was restrained, nor did he rely for effect on grotesqueries of voice or gesture.  His emphasis was rather on the psychological play of thought and emotion on his tone colours.  The soliloquy in Act I  “Yon Assassin is Mine Equal”, and the strongly-flavoured emotional music in Act II were examples of his ability to convey dramatic content.  There was a marriage of musicianship with the mental processes of the actor that made it impossible not to be moved by him.

'Gwen Catley, well-known radio and concert singer, came for a guest appearance.  Her silver-thread high soprano and her delicate facility in the coloratura style made her an appealing Gilda.  In the “Dearest Name” showpiece, her filigree artistry created a hush of admiration before the applause. The Duke was Charles Craig, who was also the tenor in La Boheme.  This was from him another evening for fine lyrical singing, with excellent upper register to give a dash to his top notes.  A winsome performance of the famous aria about the heart of women, too.

'Stanislav Pieczora, Polish bass, made a resonant Sparafucile; Julia Bouttell a good Maddalena. The storm scene at the inn was pretty stagecraft - grimly realistic, with a river that looked unusually convincing. Arthur Hammond, the conductor, produced a nice balance of delicacy and dramatic emphasis from the orchestra.


A Second Dundee Perspective

Dundee Evening Telegraph: Wednesday, May 25, 1955           

Brilliant Rigoletto

'The fine performance of Verdi's Rigoletto by the Carl Rosa Company at the Gaumont Theatre, Dundee, last night owed much of its success to the brilliant characterisation of the title role by Joseph Satariano. A lifetime's experience of the part has given him an uncanny insight into the psychological depths. It gave his acting an almost terrifying sense of reality. Vocally he seemed quite tireless. Throughout a wide range his voice retained a pleasing quality of tone.

'Guest star was coloratura soprano Gwen Catley.  Her interpretation of the ill-starred Gilda was a particularly sensitive one. Her singing of the popular “Dearest Name” aria revealed that delicate flexibility of voice for which she is justly famous. Doubtless the tenors in the audience felt a strong desire to burst into song when their favourites, “Woman is Fickle”, and “This One or That One” echoed through the theatre. Charles Craig did full justice to both beautiful arias. He greatly impressed with his effortless singing and the heart-warming quality of his voice.

'Another fine artiste was Stanislav Pieczora, who sang the part of Sparafucile with the resonant power of a true Eastern European bass. In the smaller parts of Maddalena and Count Monterone, Julia Bouttell and Ernest Thomas sang and acted exceedingly well. Others taking part were Esther Martin as Giovanna, James Stuker, Peter Murray, Margarita Rynn, Basil Hemming, and Gene Holley.

'A word of praise must go to the producer for the wonderful storm effects in the last scene, with the impressive background of rippling moonlit water. To Arthur Hammond, the evening's conductor, must go congratulations for the orchestra's fine playing and its sympathetic accompaniment throughout.'


The Carl Rosa Scottish Schedule - 1955

The eleven operas performed during the tour were:  Mozart (Don Giovanni);  Rossini (Barber of Seville);  Wagner (Tannhäuser);  Verdi (RigolettoTrovatore);  Gounod (Faust);  Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);   Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Puccini (Bohème);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana).

The full Scottish tour schedule was:

Glasgow, w/c 2 May:  Mon 2 Bohème;  Tue 3 Barber of Seville;  Wed 4 Cav & Pag;  Thu 5 Faust; Fri 6 Tannhäuser;  Sat 7 mat Bohème;  Sat 7 eve Carmen.

Glasgow, w/c 9 May:  Mon 9 Tales of Hoffmann;  Tue 10 Rigoletto;  Wed 11 Bohème;  Thu 12 Cav & Pag;  Fri 13 Don Giovanni;  Sat 14 mat  Barber of Seville;  Sat 14 eve Trovatore.

The intervening week, commencing Monday, 16 May, was spent at the Globe Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees.

Dundee, w/c 23 May:  Mon 23 Bohème;  Tue 24 Rigoletto;  Wed 25 mat Barber of Seville;  Wed 25 eve Cav & Pag;  Thu 26 Faust;  Fri 27 Barber of Seville; Sat 28 mat Bohème;  Sat 28 eve Trovatore.



Cast details for the Dundee performance are taken from a programme held in the OperaScotland archive.

Performance Cast

Duke of Mantua

Charles Craig (May 24)

Matteo Borsa a courtier

Peter Murray (May 24)

Marullo a courtier

James Shuker (May 24)

Countess Ceprano

Margarita Rynn (May 24)

Rigoletto a jester

Joseph Satariano (May 24)

Count Monterone

Ernest Thomas (May 24)

Sparafucile a professional assassin

Stanislav Pieczora (May 24)

Gilda Rigoletto's daughter

Gwen Catley (May 24)

Giovanna Gilda's duenna

Esther Martin (May 24)

Page to the Duchess

Gene Holley (May 24)


Basil Hemming (May 24)

Maddalena sister of Sparafucile

Julia Bouttell (May 24)

Performance DatesRigoletto 1955

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 May, 19.30

Gaumont Theatre | Dundee

24 May, 19.00

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