Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1919Carl Rosa Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

The senior management of the Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company during the spring tour was headed by two 'Controlling Directors', Mrs Carl Rosa, widow of the founder and Walter van Noorden, who had conducted them in earlier years. The Artistic Director was the experienced bass Arthur Winckworth, still active on stage, and the General Business Manager was Henry Barrett Brandreth. Conducting duties were divided between Henriquez de la Fuente and Herbert Ferrers. By the time of the winter season, a new General Manager was in place, Mr H B Phillips.

The week commencing 27 January was the last week of opera to be seen in Dundee  for several years. Her Majesty's, a beautiful, atmospheric, popular - and profitable - theatre since 1885, was about to be purchased by a London-based cinema company. This event caused widespread outrage, but was a fait accompli, never to be reversed.


Three Dundee Critics

Dundee Advertiser: Wednesday, 29 January 1919  (p3)

Carl Rosa Opera - Wagner's Tannhäuser

'From The Tales of Hoffmann to Tannhäuser is like the change from a sparkling shallow stream to a deep river. The Wagnerian tide is sometimes murky, if not muddy, but always it has within it the suggestion of power - a power at its height likely to carry one beyond one's depth. With Offenbach's tuneful music we please and amuse ourselves. Wagner's music moulds us to its own purpose.

'Last night's performance opened, of course, with the famous overture. So finely was it played under Mr Herbert Ferrers' leadership, so carefully was every delicate nuance attended to, and so overwhelming were the effects of climax at the end and elsewhere that some dread was aroused that the rest of the performance might be on a lower level.  Such a fear proved to be quite groundless.  Acting and singing were throughout satisfying in a high degree, and a very excellent performance resulted.

'The title role was taken by Mr William Boland, who has made great strides in his art since he last visited Dundee.   He is almost, in voice, figure, and gesture, an ideal representative of the character.  It would be easy to indicate where he made his chief points, whether of force or tenderness. But it is complimenting him more highly to say that one forgot his work of detail, in the massive total effect that was attained.  The Elizabeth of the cast was Miss Beatrice Miranda, who, as most people are aware, is a niece of our townsman, Mr S C Hirst.   Miss Miranda is now playing heavier dramatic parts than formerly. Her style has broadened without losing its grace, and her voice has gained in power and brilliancy.  In the tournament of song scene she bore herself with splendid dignity, and towards its close was very impressive, where she interposes between Tannhäuser and those opposed to him.  Very beautiful in tone and feeling was the delivery of the celebrated Prayer.

'Mr Hebden Foster was satisfactory in every respect as Wolfram; while the Landgrave, as rendered by Mr Arthur Winckworth, was appropriately dignified in bearing and vocal manner.  Miss Dorothy Taylor sang with much charm the lovely song of the Shepherd Boy.  The chorus has much to do in Tannhäuser, and did most of it excellently; though there were one or two cases of defective intonation. The audience was again large and discriminatingly appreciative.'


Dundee Courier & Argus: Wednesday, 29 January 1919  (p2)


 'The only German opera of the week, Wagner's Tannhäuser, attracted a big audience to Her Majesty's Theatre last night.  The best known of the great musical dramatist's works, it has tremendous claims on popularity.   Its wonderful overture is known wherever music is known, and the critic of dramatic construction may well admire the variety and appropriate continuity of the scenes, especially in the first act, where we run the whole gamut of emotions, from gay to grave, from freshness to despondency.

'We do not think there ever was a performance of Tannhäuser in Dundee, and we believe we have seen them all, that more nearly attained perfection.   There were possible faults to find, and possible criticisms to make, but there was an all-round dignity, and we may almost say majesty, about the whole performance which was eminently satisfactory.   We never, for instance, saw the first act so deftly stage-managed.  It is difficult to do, and it was admirably done.

'The company did full justice to the work.  The male chorus was not quite so true in tone as it might have been, but allowance for this must be made at this time.  The ladies of the chorus sang brilliantly, and the March movement in the second act was spiritedly given.

'The principals were all good.  Miss Beatrice Miranda, in whom we in Dundee feel that we have almost a personal interest because of her local connections, made a most dignified and gracious Elizabeth.   Both in voice and in style she has improved since we last heard her.   Her Greeting to the Hall of Song was magnificently sung, with fulness of tone, brilliance of execution, and a commanding power about it that carried everything before it.   The Prayer in the third act was a beautiful specimen of artistic devotional singing, and all through Miss Miranda sang and acted with a full sense of the beauty and dignity of the role.

'Mr William Boland, whom we have also heard before, sang the music of Tannhäuser with great fervour and effectiveness.  His impassioned song in the second act was splendidly declaimed, and his Narrative in the last act was picturesquely and dramatically given.  That fine artiste, Mr Arthur Winckworth, again lent dignity and force to the stately part of the Landgrave, and his resonant voice and fine method were notable throughout the whole performance.  Mr Hebden Foster in the sympathetic role of Wolfram sang with fine taste and feeling, his “Star of Eve” being sung with all the necessary tenderness and grace.

'Miss May Crowley made an attractive Venus, singing well and acting with restrained feeling.  Miss Dorothy Taylor, as before, sang the Shepherd's Song with delicate charm and much finish.  Mr Frederick Clendon, always a fine artiste, sang the music of Biterolf with force and taste, and other roles were ably filled by Messrs Lovat Crosley, Robert Brookes, and Charles Bloomfield.

'The band, under Mr Herbert Ferrers, was at its best.  The overture was brilliantly played, but, to some of us, the effect was marred by the entrance of late-comers.  We have, we think, known the doors closed during the playing of the overture.  It is not an idea which should be overlooked, for the overture to Tannhäuser is a musical key to the whole work.'


Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post: Wednesday, 29 January 1919

Her Majesty's Theatre - Tannhäuser

'It was the Tannhäuser Overture that made Wagner popular in Britain, and last night this number received the warmest applause.  Considering the size of the band and the few opportunities of rehearsal, the rendering was thoroughly good.  The opera itself was presented with excellent attention to detail. The stage setting was artistic and the singing was on a high standard.  The chorus is certainly not perfectly balanced, and the “Pilgrims' Chorus” lacked body, but “Hail, bright abode” had a vigorous rendering that was fully effective.

'Mr William Boland played Tannhäuser. he held a nice balance between the earthly and heavenly aspirations of that smirched knight.  His full tenor voice rang out splendidly in declamatory passages, and his singing of the “Pilgrimage” was quite impressive.  Miss May Crowley as Venus had not a strong enough voice to stand up against Mr Boland's in concerted work.

'Miss Beatrice Miranda is a true first soprano, brilliant in tone and execution and artistic in finish.  Her rendering of the address to the “Hall of Song” was as exultant as Elizabeth's “Prayer” was tender and appealing.  Mr Arthur Winckworth's deep bass voice made every bar of the Landgrave's music significant, and Mr Hebden Foster as a noble Wolfram sang with admirable feeling and warmth.  A word of special praise was due to “Star of Eve”.  It is some time since we heard the “Shepherd's Song” so brightly sung as it was by Miss Dorothy Taylor.  The other parts were in good hands.'


Edinburgh Press

The Scotsman, Thursday, 20 March 1919

'Wagner had his single representation during the present visit to Edinburgh of the Carl Rosa Company last night with Tannhauser. Effective as a piece of drama, amd with gorgeous musci which is always as clear and intelligible as the moral of the story,  Tannhauser displays no weakening of its hold upon popular favour, and there was not an empty seat in the house. The cast was more or less familiar.  Mr William Boland has appeared in Edinburgh before in the title role.  His interpretation of the character last night showed a general advance in qulaity, both musically and dramatically.  The Elisabeth of Miss Beatrice Miranda, too, is well known, and here, also, was the gain in effectivenes which comes to the thoughtful artist.  The Venus of Miss Eva Turner, one of the most interesting artists in the Carl Rosa company, was another fine performance. The Wolfram of Mr Hebden Foster and Mr Arthur Winckworth's Landgrave displayed their familiar excellence, and the remaining characters were all good.  The one defect of the performance was that a disposition to take the opera at too great a speed interfered somewhat with the tunefulness and precision of the orchestra.  Mr Herbert Ferrers conducted.'



Glasgow Press in Winter

Glasgow Herald, Monday, 8 December 1919

A review in the Glasgow Herald (8 December) discussed a performance by the Phillips section of the Carl Rosa Company in less than flattering terms, "but later performances showed much improved form.  That the harping, for example, of the minstrel knights in the tournament in Tannhäuser had to be done by a piano in the wings was fatal to illusion.  A ballet of four, too, can barely be called adequate.  There are, however, some good singers in the company, and these are able to carry the performance through with a large measure of success."


The cast for Wednesday 22 January is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library. Further details are compiled from reviews in the Dundee Advertiser, Dundee Courier & Argus and Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post (all in Dundee City Library).  A programme for the performance of 19 March also survives in the archives of Edinburgh Central Library.


The Carl Rosa Scottish Tours in 1919

The 1919 season consisted of one week at Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Theatre (HMT), then one week at Dundee’s Her Majesty’s Theatre (HMT). There followed four weeks at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal (TR). Following a break of one week, when the company made a detour to Greenock King's Theatre (KT), there were two weeks at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum (RLT), then later still another two in Glasgow (TR). Ten weeks, followed by a further three in December to give thirteen. By now, the Carl Rosa organisation was running a number of separate companies, the Phillips section giving the December performances.


w/c Mon Jan 20 Tales of Hoffmann Tue ToscaWed Tannhauser; Thu MignonFri Carmen; Sat m Madam ButterflySat e Faust. AHMT

w/c Mon Jan 27 Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Tannhauser; Wed Faust; Thu Madam Butterfly; Fri Mignon; Sat mTales of Hoffmann; Sat e Trovatore. DHMT 

w/c Mon 3 Feb Tannhauser; Tue BohèmeWed Madam Butterfly; Thu Trovatore; Fri Tosca; Sat m Mignon; Sat e Tales of Hoffmann. GTR 

w/c Mon 10 Feb Cav and Pag; Tue Faust; Wed Carmen; Thu Tales of Hoffmann; Fri Madam Butterfly; Sat m Tosca; Sat e Maritana. GTR

w/c Mon 17 Feb Bohème; Tue Tannhauser; Wed Mignon; Thu Cav and Pag; Fri Don GiovanniSat m Tales of Hoffmann; Sat e Trovatore. GTR

w/c Mon 24 Feb Carmen; Tue Rigoletto; Wed Carmen; Thu Faust; Fri Tannhauser; Sat m Madam Butterfly; Sat e Bohemian Girl. GTR

w/c Mon 3 Mar Company performing in Liverpool

w/c Mon 10 Mar Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Tosca  ; Wed Faust; Thu Madam Butterfly; Fri Don Giovanni; Sat m Cav and Pag; Sat e Maritana. ERL

w/c Mon 17 Mar Tosca; Tue Tales of Hoffmann; Wed Tannhauser; Thu Bohème; Fri Carmen; Sat m Mignon; Sat e Trovatore; ERL

w/c Mon 30 Jun Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Carmen; Wed Mignon; Thu Cav and Pag; Fri Three Masks; Sat m Madam Butterfly; Sat e Faust GTR

w/c Mon 7 Jul Three Masks; Tue Trovatore; Wed Daughter of the Regiment; Thu Carmen; Fri Marriage of Figaro; Sat m Tales of Hoffmann; Sat e Maritana GTR

w/c Mon 1 Dec Tales of Hoffmann; Tue Carmen; Wed Faust; Thu Cav and Pag; Fri Tannhauser; Sat m Romeo and Juliet; Sat e Rigoletto.

w/c Mon 8 Dec Cav and Pag; Tue Trovatore; Wed Romeo and Juliet; Thu Lily of Killarney; Fri Faust; Sat m Traviata; Sat e Tales of Hoffmann.

w/c Mon 15 Dec Carmen; Tue Tannhauser; Wed Maritana; Thu Rigoletto; Fri Romeo and Juliet; Sat m Cavand Pag; Sat e Tales of Hoffmann


Thirteen weeks @seven performances = ninety-one

Thirteen Tales of Hoffmann

Eight Carmen; Tannhauser; Faust

Seven; Madam Butterfly; Cav and Pag

Six Mignon

Five Trovatore; Tosca

Four Cav and Pag; Maritana

Three Bohème; Romeo and Juliet

Two Three Masks; Don Giovanni; Rigoletto

One Marriage of Figaro; Daughter of the Regiment; Bohemian Girl; Traviata; Lily of Killarney.

The cast for Wednesday 22 January is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library.  Further details are compiled from reviews in the Dundee AdvertiserDundee Courier & Argus and Dundee Evening Telegraph & Post (all in Dundee City Library).   A programme for the performance of 19 March also survives in the archives of Edinburgh Central Library.

Performance Cast


May Crowley (Jan 28)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

William Boland (Jan 28)

Shepherd boy

Dorothy Lawson-Taylor (Jan 28)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

Hebden Foster (Jan 28)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

Arthur Winckworth (Jan 28)

Walther von der Vogelweide a knight and minnesinger

Lovat Crosley (Jan 28)

Heinrich der Schreiber a knight and minnesinger

Robert Brookes (Jan 28)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

Frederick Clendon (Jan 28)

Reinmar von Zweter a knight and minnesinger

Charles Bloomfield (Jan 28)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Eva Turner (Jan 22)

Beatrice Miranda (Jan 28)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1919

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

22 Jan, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

28 Jan, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

3 Feb, 19.15 18 Feb, 19.15 28 Feb, 19.15

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

19 Mar, 19.30

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