+Carl Rosa Opera Company (1873 - 1960)

 2. Carl Rosa


 3    Hollander

4. Govan

5.  Leeds

6. Witch
7.  Butterfly

Selected Operas performed by Carl Rosa in Scotland
Year Mon Date Opera Composer Location Venue
1874 Nov 16 Bohemian Girl Balfe Glasgow Prince of Wales
1874 Nov 17 Trovatore Verdi Glasgow Prince of Wales
1874 Nov 20 Don Giovanni Mozart Glasgow Prince of Wales
1874 Nov 23 Faust Gounod Glasgow Prince of Wales
1874 Nov 28 Maritana Wallace Glasgow Prince of Wales
1877 Feb 21 Fidelio Beethoven Edinburgh Royal Edinburgh
1877 Feb 23 Flying Dutchman Wagner* Edinburgh Royal Edinburgh
1877 Mar 2 Siege of Rochelle Balfe* Edinburgh Royal Edinburgh
1877 Sep 20 Marriage of Figaro Mozart Glasgow Theatre Royal
1877 Oct 10 Merry Wives of Windsor Nicolai* Aberdeen Her Majesty's
1880 Mar 17 Carmen Bizet Edinburgh Theatre Royal
1881 Nov 21 Lohengrin Wagner Edinburgh Theatre Royal
1882 Nov 4 Rigoletto Verdi Edinburgh Theatre Royal
1882 Nov 15 Traviata Verdi Glasgow Royalty
1884 Nov 19 Favorite Donizetti Edinburgh Royal Lyceum
1885 Nov 11 Manon Massenet* Edinburgh Royal Lyceum
1889 Nov 15 Lucia di Lammermoor Donizetti Glasgow Theatre Royal
1890 Nov 12 Romeo & Juliet Gounod* Glasgow Theatre Royal
1890 Nov 14 Daughter of the Regiment Donizetti Glasgow Theatre Royal
1892 Apr 26 Rustic Chivalry Mascagni* Glasgow Theatre Royal
1892 May 2 Aida Verdi* Glasgow Theatre Royal
1892 Nov 15 Othello Verdi* Glasgow Theatre Royal
1893 May 1 Tannhauser Wagner* Glasgow Theatre Royal
1893 Nov 15 Pagliacci Leoncavallo Glasgow Theatre Royal
1894 Apr 27 Damnation of Faust Berlioz Glasgow Theatre Royal
1894 May 1 Rienzi Wagner* Glasgow Theatre Royal
1894 May 18 Orpheus and Eurydice Gluck Edinburgh Royal Lyceum
1894 Nov 15 Jeanie Deans MacCunn** Edinburgh Royal Lyceum
1895 Apr 23 Ivanhoe Sullivan* Glasgow Royalty Theatre
1895 Apr 24 Hansel & Gretel Humperdinck* Glasgow Royalty Theatre
1896 Apr 22 Meistersingers Wagner Glasgow Theatre Royal
1896 Nov 12 Valkyrie Wagner* Glasgow Theatre Royal
1897 Apr 30 Bohemians Puccini* Glasgow Theatre Royal
1897 Nov 6 Diarmid MacCunn* Edinburgh Royal Lyceum


1. Carl RosaCarl Rosa Opera Company (1873 - 1960)

1.   Carl Rosa (1873 - 89), musical director and founder of the Carl Rosa Touring Opera Company.

Date: ca 1880
Photographer: Unkniwn

2.    Carl Rosa and his wife, Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa

Date: 1 January, 1869
Photographer: unknown [Original image out of copyright]

3.    The climax of Act 3 of Wagner's Flying Dutchman at the Lyceum Theatre London/ This was the first performance in English given by the Carl Rosa Company.

Date: 1876
Photographer: Unknown. Lithograph in the public domain

There was a provincial tour with this production in the autumn of 1876, following a revival at the Lyceum Theatre, again with Carl Rosa, Santley revived his role as the Flying Dutchman, this time in English, with Ostava Torriani as Senta.  The opera was given in Edinburgh and Glasgow in February 1877

 4.  Programmme cover or advertisement for the Lyceum Theatre, Govan.

Photographer: Unknown. Image based on original pamphlet in the collection of the Mitchell Library, Glasgow.

The Lyceum Theatre opened in 1897 in Govan Road in the Burgh of Govan. It was owned by Richard Waldon. The opening season was devoted to a production of Carmen by the Carl Rosa Opera Company. This derived image can be found in the 'Glasgow Story' online.

5.    Advertisement for the Carl Rosa 1925 Season in Leeds.

Photographer: Unknown.

In Leeds, stage opera on a 'grand' scale began with the opening of the sumptuous Italianate Grand Theatre and Opera House on November 18th 1878. Mapleson's Italian Opera Company, 'direct from Her Majesty's Theatre' London, appeared there in the following year with fully staged productions of Weber's, 'Der Freischutz', Gounod's, 'Faust', Mozart's, 'Figaro' and Bizet's 'Carmen'

From the late 1950s until 1962, Leeds' annual ration of Sadller's Wells was supplemented by the Covent Garden Opera (later the Royal Opera) who would typically bring five productions on tour. Their 1961 visit included, 'Der Rosenkavalier', 'Aida', 'Carmen', 'Peter Grimes' and 'La Boheme'. Replicas of the Covent Garden scenery were reproduced in the company's paintshop for smaller proscenium openings in provincial theatres. The productions were usually shorn of the famous singers who had appeared in the principal roles at Covent Garden.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post after 'Der Rosenkavalier', Ernest Bradbury acidly commented: 'A half-sized orchestra  .  .   .lighting in the last act was abominable .  .  .  with the Marschallin picked out in a blue spot like some pantomime fairy princess'.

6.   Constance Willis as the Witch in Carl Rosa's Hansel and Gretel.

Date: 1937
Photographer: Unknown.

7.    Wartime Madama Butterfly  A scene from the 1941-42  Carl Rosa production with Kingley Lark as Sharpless, Parry Jones as Pinkerton Helen Ogilvie as Cio-Cio-San Gladys Parr as Suzuki.      

Date: 1941
Photographer: Unknown.

Carl Rosa Opera Company (1873 - 1960)

Carl August Nicolas Rosa was born in Hamburg in 1842.  He was the founder, together with his wife, the Edinburgh-born soprano Euphrosyne Parepa, of the opera company which has done so much for opera in English.

Trained as a violinist, he was educated at the Conservatorium at Leipzig and afterwards in Paris. In 1863 he was appointed Konzertmeister at Hamburg. Three years later he visited England, appearing as a soloist at the Crystal Palace, prior to a a concert tour of America with Bateman.

In 1871 Rosa returned to England with his wife, and for reasons of health proceeded to Egypt. He came back to London in 1872 where his wife died soon after their arrival. Rosa then threw his whole energies into operatic management.  After opening in Manchester, he arrived in London at the Princess’s Theatre in 1873, where he gathered together the finest operatic material available,with immediate success.

His first London season lasted six weeks, during which time his repertoire included: Figaro, Faust, The Porter of Havre (Cagnoni), Fra Diavolo, Bohemian Girl, Trovatore, The Water Carrier (Cherubini) and Siege of Rochelle. Rosa Hersee and Santley were among the singers.

Encouraged by his success Rosa returned to London the following year and opened at the Lyceum (September 11th to December 2nd). This season was even more successful than the last, and from that the Carl Rosa season became an important annual event.

In 1880 Sir George Grove wrote: “The careful way in which the pieces are put on the stage, the number of rehearsals, the eminence of the performers and the excellence of the performers have begun to bear their legitimate fruit, and the Carl Rosa Opera Company bids fair to become a permanent English institution”.

Over the years, the activities of the Carl Rosa Opera Company have influenced the musical life of every major town in the British isles.

The Carl Rosa Trust was created in 1957. This Trust was able to continue to award scholarships that enabled the support, study and education of notable young singers and instrumentalists and maintained his historic music library and costume collection dating back to 1873.

Although the original company did not survive the funding crises of the mid-20th century, a new Carl Rosa Opera Limited was formed in 1998. The aim was and continues to be, to offer the highest quality productions of music theatre and opera at affordable prices. The company has built firm foundations for its work in the North East of England, offering a wide range of diverse presentations.  Full professional productions of grand opera like La Boheme, sung in Italian, to lighter works, such as the first professional staging for over 117 years of the 1879 The Pirates of Penzance, have followed.

A full list will be found at the following LINK

Carl Rosa Opera Company.

They launched the first season in Manchester in 1873, using the name the Carl Rosa Opera company.  Soon the business grew, and was incorporated in 1887. 

Following a command performance at Balmoral of Fra Diavolo, Queen Victoria conferred the titles 'Royal' and 'Her Majesty's Servants' on the Carl Rosa Opera Company in January 1893.  Hence the names appear for some years as the Royal Carl Rosa Opera on advertisements and programmes, though not always in reviews.   The company became insolvent in 1898, and then in the 1920s, but was again reconstructed, the brand name continuing to prove powerful.

After 1945, it became increasingly clear that subsidy would be needed to finance touring opera; the standards of the company were falling, and the repertory repetitive.  After a period of increasingly public dispute in the 1950s, the Arts Council took the decision to subsidise Sadler's Wells tours, and Carl Rosa Opera gave its last performance, in London in 1960.

[Text based, in part, on Information published by the Carl Rosa Company, Opera Scotland and other material in the public domain, including the Opera Archive and Leeds Net.]