Herr Ernst Denhof’s Operatic Festival Performances at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, March 1912

The Glasgow Herald’s music critic reviewed the Ernst Denhof production of Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolda” on page seven of Tuesday the 26th of March’s issue. The introduction is of particular interest, and reads:


“Opera in this country is the most risky of ventures. We constantly insist on the success of Continental opera, but forget that without subsidy the foreigner in many cases would not be very much better off than the Britisher. The subsidy of course means that the foreigner is willing to pay for his opera; State grants naturally come out of the pocket of the taxpayer. In Britain we still look at the arts as luxuries; and if people want luxuries they cannot expect provision for them out of the public purse. We make an exception in the case of pictures, no doubt because pictures are property. Perhaps some day it will be realised that music and drama have the same claims as their more favoured sister. Meantime operatic experiments are made from time to time, and more fortunes are lost than won. So far as the provinces are concerned, opera at popular prices can hardly be anything but compromise. Mr Denhof and Mr Quinlan may seem solitary pioneers, but as a matter of fact they reflect the improved taste of musical amateurs and the demand for operatic performances as perfect in detail as performances prevailing in the concert-room. Without this real desire for the best the Denhof and Quinlan experiments would have no meaning. The best means high prices, and high prices mean a limited appeal. There are evidently, however, an increasing number of people willing to support good opera. Mr Denhof has not been contented with half measures. He has done everything possible to make his performances perfect, and he has not hesitated to ask prices far beyond anything known in provincial theatres. How far he will be able to go in the future we should not like to say. His production of ‘The Ring’ made a deep impression, and his present tour seems to have hardly less happy results.”