Opera Scotland

Rigoletto 1910Castellano Grand Italian Opera

Read more about the opera Rigoletto

Cavaliere Castellano's Grand Italian Opera Company was one of a succession of companies of Italian origin that made periodic tours of the UK. All operas were performed in Italian, including Carmen, Faust and even Maritana. Most of the singers were Italian, though there were exceptions. On this tour, for instance, a young English soprano, Miriam Licette, made a great impact as Micaëla in Carmen and was then given the part of Marguerite in Faust - a role she eventually recorded (in English) with Sir Thomas Beecham.

The cast is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library and reviews in the Dundee Advertiser and Courier & Argus.

Further dates to be confirmed.


Dundee Reviews

Dundee Advertiser:  Wednesday, October 26, 1910   (p8)

Italian Opera - Rigoletto at Her Majesty’s Theatre

'After the thrilling performance of Il Trovatore on Monday it might have been expected that a crowded house would reward the Castellano Italian Opera Company at every future opera.  Such an expectation was not fully realised last night.  There was a good dress circle, and the stalls were comfortably filled, but in the upper circle, and in some of the cheaper parts of the house were blanks that might have been occupied with advantage to everybody.  Those who were not present missed a very enjoyable rendering of an interesting opera.

'Though Rigoletto may not be so rich in catchy tunes as Il Trovatore, in every other respect it is a more artistic and satisfactory work.  For one thing it possesses a well-woven plot of great tragic interest.  This is taken from Hugo’s drama Le Roi s’amuse, which also furnished the material for Tom Taylor’s play The Fool’s Revenge - given years ago in the Royal, with the American actor Edwin Booth, as the luckless jester.  Perhaps Verdi felt that, having a libretto of real value to deal with, he could to a certain extent ignore the more popular ear, and depend for success on the dramatic force and intrinsic merit of his score.  If so, his confidence has been justified, for with those who know, Rigoletto has come to be regarded as the most important work of his early period.

'If the opera was better than that of Monday night, its interpretation was also in most respects an improvement on that of its predecessor.  While no one could deny the passion that possessed, and the passionate force that emanated from, the singers in the representation of Trovatore, one felt at times that the modesty of nature was overstepped.  In Rigoletto nothing of the sort was observable.  The representation was throughout highly artistic and without exaggeration.

'In Rigoletto the principal part is that of the jester himself.  Given a competent player and singer in the title role, and success can hardly be missed.  Signor Vail in the part is much more than competent.  His magnificent baritone is equal to every demand made upon it, so that it is hard to say whether he is more effective in tender or in forceful moments.  His duets with his daughter Gilda were informed with the most touching pathos.  To the company Signor Vail is a tower of strength.  The Gilda was Signora Alessandrovic.  This lady’s voice is of the Tetrazzini type - light and flexible.  Her great opportunity comes, of course, with “Caro nome,” and this, one of the most exacting of operatic numbers, served to show that the singer was at her best when most was demanded from her.  The florid runs and arpeggios with which the solo is ornamented were delivered with brilliance and ease, and where the head notes were required they were found to be true and telling.  The Duke of Signor Romani was satisfactory, if not of exceptional excellence.  He looked and played the part well, and made a good deal of “Questa o quella” and “La Donna e mobile.”  Signor Vittori’s powerful bass was of great service in the part of the bravo Sparafucile, and Signora Rocco as Magdalena displayed a fine contralto that we should like to hear again.  In the storm scene (we have no such terrible affairs in Scotland) the famous quartette “Un di si ben” was given so well that a delighted house redemanded it.

'The chorus was much better than on Monday; “Zitti, zitti” at the end of the first act being delivered with tones varied and carefully modulated.  Great improvement was also manifest in the orchestra, under the energetic and watchful conductor, Signor Lietti.  The wood winds were specially excellent, the playing of the flutes in “Caro nome” being admirable.'


Dundee Courier & Argus:  Wednesday, October 26, 1910   (p4)

Italian Opera in Dundee - Rigoletto

'Last night’s audience at Her Majesty’s was not yet so large as it might have been, but it was gratifying to see so well filled a dress circle.  The performance gave unbounded satisfaction, and aroused much enthusiasm, although we scarcely think that in artistic excellence it reached the level attained by Il Trovatore on the previous evening.

'Rigoletto, although earlier in date by a year or two than Il Trovatore, is generally considered a better work.  With Rigoletto Verdi’s “second manner” begins, and shows great advance, particularly in the orchestration, as, for instance, the suggestions of wind in the last act, and the quartette, “Un di si ben” is world-famous.  Like all Verdi’s early operas, it has a most melodramatic story, and there is tragedy of the grimmest in the jester being made to aid and abet in the abduction of his own daughter and in his gloating over her dying body, thinking it to be that of his arch-enemy, the libertine Duke of Mantua.

'The part of Rigoletto, the deformed jester, whom the Duke uses for baser purposes, dominates the opera, and gives scope for both acting and singing of the highest order.  Of his opportunities Signor Vail took full advantage.  His acting showed in vivid colours both his passionate love for his daughter and his hatred for the Duke, and his singing throughout was admirably telling and effective.  He has a magnificent voice of great range, wonderfully equal in quality, and his singing was notably effective in the strong dramatic scenes in the third and fourth acts.  The trying duet with which the opera, as played last night, closes was sung with passion and pathos worthy of all praise.

'Signora Alessandrovic as Gilda, the hapless daughter of the jester, made her first appearance for the week.  Her voice, if not so powerful as that of the prima donna of the previous evening, is sweet and round by quality, and she sings with much excellence of method.  Her treatment of “Caro nome” was instinct with artistic grace and refinement, and was encored with much enthusiasm.

'Signor Romani as the Duke also made his first appearance for the week.  His voice is a little hard in quality, but he has a fine stage presence, and acts with forceful grace.  His “La donna e mobile” was carefully sung, and was loudly applauded, but it lacked the caressing quality that a voice of a different timbre could give it.

'Signora Rocco made an agreeable Magdalena, displaying a voice which promises well for Lola to-night, and Signor Vittori, in the part of the mercenary and bloodthirsty Sparafucile, sang grandly and acted with all necessary truculence.  Signor Quintina’s fine bass voice told well in the small part of Count Monterone, and other parts were well filled.

'The famous Quartette, sung with great brilliance, was encored, and the chorus sang capitally, notably in the “Zitti-Zitti” number.  The band, vigorously conducted by Signor Lietti, played well on the whole, although parts of the accompaniments to “Caro nome” were a little shaky.

'To-night one of the strongest bills of the week will be presented, when these inseparable operatic twins, Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci, will be performed, with Madame Defral as Santuzza and Nedda, Signor Barbato as Turiddu and Canio, Signor Vail as Alfio and Tonio, and Signora Rocco as Lola.  This combination has the reputation of being one of the strongest within the range of the company’s powers.'

Performance Cast

Duke of Mantua

Signor Romani (Oct 18, 25)

Count Ceprano a courtier

Signor Fragari (Oct 18)

Countess Ceprano

Signora Surdicosca (Oct 18)

Rigoletto a jester

Signor Vail (Oct 18, 25)

Count Monterone

Signor Quintina (Oct 18, 25)

Sparafucile a professional assassin

Signor Vittori (Oct 18, 25)

Gilda Rigoletto's daughter

Signora Alessandrovic (Oct 18, 25)

Giovanna Gilda's duenna

Signora Cavezzano (Oct 18)

Maddalena sister of Sparafucile

Signora Rocco (Oct 18, 25)

Performance DatesRigoletto 1910

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

18 Oct, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

25 Oct, 19.00

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