Opera Scotland

Tannhäuser 1911Moody-Manners Opera Company

Read more about the opera Tannhäuser

By this time it was an unusual week of opera that did not include the most popular of Wagner's works. However there were changes from the previous tours by this company. Charles Manners and Fanny Moody themselves are conspicuously absent, and the cast is largely of unknown singers.  The company was in terminal decline and would not tour Scotland again.

The new tenor, Frank Christian, had spent most of his career in German houses, but would spend a couple of seasons touring Britain, first with Moody-Manners then Carl Rosa. One note for the future is the arrival of a young Australian soprano, Eda Bennie, in the role of the Shepherd Boy. She would become a leading principal in the twenties, appearing with both Carl Rosa and BNOC.  Florence Morden would be the leading soprano through the war years with Joseph O'Mara's company.

Conductor Harrison Frewin would also be an important figure in the next few years, though his feat at this stage of conducting every single performance, including two on Saturdays, must have been quite wearing.

The cast is from a programme in Aberdeen City Library, supplemented by reviews in the Dundee Advertiser and Dundee Courier.  There is also a brief review in the Glasgow Herald - the Glasgow visit clashed directly with the presence of Carl Rosa, who had to make do with the Grand.


A Dundee Review

Dundee Courier: Friday, March 17, 1911          

Her Majesty's Theatre - The Moody-Manners Opera Company - Tannhäuser

'Like that of The Flying Dutchman, the theme of Tannhäuser is “the self-surrendering love of pure woman, which in death releases the hero,” and the whole opera is a struggle between the senses and the soul, between the earthly and the spiritual.   Musically it marks a decided advance on its predecessors, and the overture is, of course, one of the most familiar and popular works of its kind.   It also contains in “O Star of Eve,” Elizabeth's “Greeting to the Hall of Song,” and her “Prayer,” three of the most easily detachable morceaux from Wagner's operas.

'Last night's performance was again excellent, and again, also, worthy of a better audience.  From the management point of view, this week has been most disappointing.

'Miss Grace Nicoll made a most sympathetic Elizabeth, acting with dignity and expressiveness.  Her voice is scarcely big enough for the music, but her intelligence and spirit carried her bravely through.  She was happier in the “Prayer,” which was artistically phrased, than in the “Greeting,” and in the concerted music she was quite effective.  Mr Frank Christian's Tannhäuser is an earnest and dramatic piece of work.  In the unhappy minstrel's scoffing scenes he played and sang with much point, and his long narrative in the last act was eloquent and forceful.

'Miss Raymonde Amy made a delightful Venus, acting with abandon, and singing with appropriate warmth of tone.  A very fine performance was that of Mr William Farmer as Wolfram.  It is a charming part, full of poetry and pathos, and Mr Farmer filled it with calm and stately dignity.  Vocally he was admirable.  His voice is of fine range and power, and his treatment of “O Star of Eve” was cultured and refined.

'Mr Harry Brindle made a handsome and kingly Landgrave.  His voice is a little light for the music - at least in places - but his declamation in the second act was admirable.  Mr R Cliffe was a forceful Biterolf, and Miss Bennie deserves a word of warm praise for her sweet rendering of the unaccompanied “Shepherd Boy's Song.”  The minor male roles were capitally filled.  The magnificent finales of the first and second acts were rich and resonant in tone and were steadily sung.  The familiar Overture, which was loudly applauded, and the March were vigorously played under Mr Frewin's attentive beat, and the choruses, with the exception, we think, of a passage near the beginning of the third act, went well, the famous “Hail! bright abode” being given with breadth of treatment and fulness of tone.  Complaints, which are quite unjustified, are made as to the indistinctness of enunciation of some of the principals.

'To-night Saint-Saëns' beautiful Samson and Delilah will be played, with Miss Bessie Weir, who took the part once here last year, as Delilah and Mr Albert Bowyer as Samson.  At to-morrow's matinée Carmen, the ever-welcome, will be presented, when Miss Olive Westwood will make her first appearance for the week in the title role.  In the evening Benedict's popular Lily of Killarney will be given for the first time here by the Moody-Manners Company.'


Glasgow Opinion

Glasgow Herald: Thursday,  23 March 1911  (p9)

Opera in Glasgow - Tannhäuser

'The Moody-Manners Company in its present state is hardly able to cope with such a work as Tannhäuser.  The effect of reduced numbers in chorus and band was felt more last night than on the two previous nights, for Wagner makes greater demands on his exponents than Gounod or Donizetti.  The absence of the usual elaborate stage effects detracted a great deal from the success of the Venusberg scene, and the concerted music of the second act lost its impressiveness through lack of volume.  The size of the audience showed, however, that in spite of the fact that works like Samson and Delilah,  and Madame Butterfly have taken a strong hold upon the public, Tannhäuser still maintains the position it has long held as a popular favourite.

'One was glad to renew acquaintance with the Tannhäuser of Mr Wilson Pembroke, who, though not strenuous in his acting, sang with intelligence and feeling.  Madame de Kleno, who took the part of Elizabeth, was a newcomer.  She was hardly strong enough for the more exacting scenes, and did not reveal any new possibilities in the part, but she nevertheless won hearty applause for her two solos.   Mr Harry Brindle as the Landgrave and Mr William Farmer as Wolfram were satisfactory, though they were frequently handicapped by the lack of smoothness in the orchestra.  Miss Florence Morden, whose voice and enunciation were both excellent, made an admirable Venus.

'As already indicated, such parts as the March in the second act failed to arouse the usual enthusiasm owing to the absence of tone.  The opera was well received by the largest audience of the week.'

Performance Cast


Raymonde Amy (Mar 7, 16)

Florence Morden (Mar 22)

Tannhäuser a knight and minnesinger

Franz Christian (Mar 7, 16)

Wilson Pembroke (Mar 22)

Shepherd boy

Miss P Weste (Mar 7)

Eda Bennie (Mar 16)

Wolfram von Eschenbach a knight and minnesinger

William Farmer (Mar 7, 16, 22)

Hermann Landgrave of Thuringia

Harry Brindle (Mar 7, 16, 22)

Walther von der Vogelweide a knight and minnesinger

Frederick Davies (Mar 7)

Heinrich der Schreiber a knight and minnesinger

Mr Clegg (Mar 7)

Biterolf a knight and minnesinger

Richard Cliffe (Mar 7)

Reinmar von Zweter a knight and minnesinger

Mr Rushell (Mar 7)

Elisabeth niece of the Landgrave

Grace Nicoll (Mar 7, 16)

Marianne de Kleno (Mar 22)

Performance DatesTannhäuser 1911

Map List

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

7 Mar, 19.30

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

16 Mar, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

22 Mar, 19.30

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