Opera Scotland

Tales of Hoffmann 1923Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tales of Hoffmann

The tour

The Royal Carl Rosa's 1923 Scottish tour, ten weeks in total, began with single weeks in Dundee and Greenock. Longer visits to Glasgow and Edinburgh were to follow.

In the event, scheduling problems involving clashes with BNOC meant that the central belt visits were shortened by a week each, and Perth and Aberdeen included instead.

The number of different operas produced on the tour is astonishing, 22 in total, often only receiving one or two performances each. Hoffmann, however, clearly hugely popular, was given seven times.

Management issues

The Directors were still billed as Mrs Carl Rosa and Mr Alfred Van Noorden. Herbert Godfrey was Managing Director, H Chiswell Billing the Manager and Paul Kochs and Charles Webber the Conductors.

Richard Cliffe is described as Stage Manager, with the Ballet trained by Madame Buckstone Clair. Principal Dancer is Winifred Madeline. Mr M Harwood is described as 'Costumier', which seems more likely to be a form of wardrobe supervisor rather than designer.

Since the company's previous visit there had been a significant management change, with the leading dramatic mezzo Doris Woodall being given overall control of artistic direction, perhaps the first time a woman had been given such a role with a European opera company. She would continue to sing some of her major roles for a short while.

It is unfortunate that in May, just after the end of this Scottish leg, the company was declared bankrupt, though operations were restored in time for the next Scottish visit which started in Glasgow on 25 February 1924.


The opera, which had taken many years to gain popularity, was receiving only its second-ever performance in Dundee, but the Courier & Argus critic was highly enthusiastic. 'Of the 1919 cast only two members, we think, remain. Miss Eva Turner, who appeared last night in two acts instead of one, and Mr Frederick Clendon, who exchanged the part of Coppelius for that of Spalanzani in the first act, and repeated his performance of Crespel in the second act.

'Miss Turner was in great form last night, and was easily the best of the principals. Her solos and duets with Hoffmann in the first and second acts were grandly sung, and she acted with a sense of the difference between the two characters which was wonderfully artistic. It was difficult to believe that the sultry part of Giulietta and the demure and delicate part of Antonia were played by the same lady. But they were, and with equal success.'

'Miss Gladys Parr as Hoffmann's friend Nicklaus showed to great advantage. She wore her male attire with commendable swagger, toned by modest discretion, and she sang remarkably well. Miss Maude Neilson's fresh, pretty voice suited the part of the Doll, Olympia, to perfection, and her fine song was excellently given.'

Mr Ben Williams 'was at his very best in the duets with Miss Turner and the trios. His top notes are extremely good, and his performance was one of great power and merit.'

Hoffmann was, at this time, an everpresent feature of the Carl Rosa repertoire, and attempts were, it seems, being made to improve its presentation.

Booth Hitchen and Appleton Moore both now sang all three baritone villains (Lindorf in the Prologue still seems to have been cut, however). Frederick Clendon sang two tragi-comic parents, while Parkyn Newton appears to be singing two of the character tenor roles. And Eva Turner has added Antonia to the Giulietta she had sung previously, though she was already taking on some of the heavier Verdi and Wagner roles that would be the mainstay of her great career.

Note also the presence of two young mezzos - Gladys Parr, always a great friend of Dame Eva's and destined to live nearly as long, is also taking on more parts.

Olive Gilbert, after a few years singing the major mezzo roles, would go on to a career devoted more to West End musicals - Ivor Novello in the thirties and a long run in The Sound of Music in the sixties.


The Dundee week, commencing 5 February, included: Mon Aïda, Tue Maritana, Wed Lohengrin, Thu Carmen, Fri Hoffmann, Sat Mat Faust, Sat Eve Bohemian Girl.

The Greenock week, commencing 12 February: Mon Aïda, Tue Mignon, Wed Masked Ball, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Cav & Pag, Sat mat Maritana, Sat eve Carmen.

Glasgow first week, commencing 19 February: Mon Trovatore, Tue Faust, Wed Butterfly, Thu Carmen, Fri Mignon, Sat mat Hoffmann, Sat eve Maritana.

Glasgow second week, commencing 26 February: Mon Cav & Pag, Tue Rigoletto, Wed Tannhäuser, Thu Samson and Delilah, Fri Figaro, Sat mat Trovatore, Sat eve Bo Girl.

Glasgow third week, commencing 5 March: Mon Aïda, Tue Hoffmann, Wed Masked Ball, Thu Daughter of the Regiment, Fri Mastersingers, Sat mat Faust, Sat eve Carmen.

Glasgow fourth week, commencing 12 March: Mon Samson and Delilah, Tue Butterfly, Wed Figaro, Thu Lohengrin, Fri Aïda, Sat mat Rigoletto, Sat eve Trovatore

Glasgow fifth week, commencing 19 March: Mon Mignon, Tue Cav & Pag, Wed Lily of Killarney, Thu Masked Ball, Fri Carmen, Sat mat Thaïs and Talmaae & Daughter of the Regiment, Sat eve Hoffmann.

Perth, week commencing 26 March: Mon Aïda, Tue Figaro, Wed Tannhäuser, Thu Hoffmann, Fri Masked Ball, Sat mat Faust, Sat eve Carmen.

Aberdeen, week commencing 2 April: Mon Aïda, Tue Mignon, Wed Trovatore, Thu Figaro, Fri Butterfly, Sat mat Hoffmann, Sat eve Daughter of the Regiment.

Edinburgh, week commencing 9 April: Mon Carmen, Tue Masked Ball, Wed Lily of Killarney, Thu Daughter of the Regiment, Fri Mignon, Sat mat Hoffmann, Sat eve Bo Girl.

Note on sources

The partial cast for 9 February is assembled from reviews of the Dundee performance; the complete cast for Glasgow on 6 March is from a programme in the Anthony Phillips collection, with a second copy in the collection of the V & A, London. Details of the final Edinburgh matinee on 14 April are from a programme in the NLS and as reviewed in The Scotsman on 16 April.

Performance Cast

Nicklausse Hoffmann's friend

Gladys Parr (Feb 9; Mar 6; Apr 14m))

Luther an innkeeoer

Tom Hamilton (Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Nathaniel a student

Jack Wright (Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Hermann a student

Tom Rowland (Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Hoffmann a poet

Ben Williams (Feb 9; Mar 6)

John Perry (Apr 14m)

Olympia a doll

Maud Neilson (Feb 9; Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Spalanzani an Italian inventor

Frederick Clendon (Feb 9; Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Cochenille Spalanzani's servant

Parkyn Newton (Feb 9; Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Coppélius a scientist, Spalanzani's rival

Booth Hitchen (Feb 9)

Appleton Moore (Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Antonia Crespel's daughter

Eva Turner (Feb 9; Apr 14m)

Jennie Bleasdale (Mar 6)

Crespel a councillor of Munich

Frederick Clendon (Feb 9; Mar 6)

Dr Miracle a doctor

Booth Hitchen (Feb 9)

Appleton Moore (Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Franz Crespel's servant

Parkyn Newton (Feb 9; Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Antonia's mother a spirit voice

Olive Gilbert (Feb 9; Mar 6)

Ethel Freegarde (Apr 14m)

Giulietta a courtesan

Eva Turner (Feb 9)

Eva Colton (Mar 6)

Jennie Bleasdale (Apr 14m)

Schlemil Giulietta's lover

Tom Rowland (Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Pitichinaccio Giulietta's admirer

Jack Wright (Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Dapertutto a sorcerer

Booth Hitchen (Feb 9)

Appleton Moore (Mar 6; Apr 14m)

Performance DatesTales of Hoffmann 1923

Map List

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

9 Feb, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

24 Feb, 14.00 6 Mar, 19.15 24 Mar, 19.15

Perth Theatre | Perth

29 Mar, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

7 Apr, 14.00

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

14 Apr, 14.00

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