Updated 25 June 2005
Mr Arthur Sullivan is at Cairo working at the score of the new comic opera which is to follow Patience, which, however, still proves extremely attractive at the Savoy Theatre. Mr Gilbert in London sends the libretto to Mr Sullivan in Egypt, and it is expected that the opera will be completed by the end of March, or the beginning of April. Lovers of Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan's delightful combinations will naturally be curious to know what the next subject is. They have had a sorcerer in the first opera, sailors in the second, and pirates in the third, while the worshippers of æstheticism have been caricatured in the last. In the next opera they will quit the world of mortals for a time to revel in fairyland. Twenty-five years before the piece commences a fairy has committed the indiscretion of marrying a mortal. This by fairy law is death, but the queen of the fairies commuted the sentence to banishment for life among the mortals, on condition that she leave her husband and never reveal herself to him again. Soon after a son is born unto her. This son is half fairy, half mortal, being fairy down to the waist – a real idol with feet of clay. He is educated as a mortal should be, and called to the Bar, where his progress proves so remarkable, owing to the cleverness and the exceptional integrity with which he conducts his profession, that in a few years he rises to the rank of Attorney-General. True to her promise, the mother, although she sees the father, never allows herself to be seen by him until an incident which shows that the mother's love to her child is stronger than the love for her own life, makes her break her vow. She reveals herself to him, although the penalty for the act is death. The fact is that father and son love the same girl, and the father, fancying his wife to be dead, contemplates marrying the girl. The mother, after having in vain tried in disguise to persuade the father to give in for the sake of his son, as a last resource, unveils her face and tells him, "Behold, you cannot marry. I am your wife?" [sic] The skill and taste with which the fairy, representing the noblest sentiments, is led through the piece, with æsthetic grace, is only what could be expected from the skilful and satirical pen of the author. The climax will be a surprise, but we are not yet permitted to reveal it. Possibly the author himself has not quite made up his mind as to the denouement.
The Era 1882 August 5 44(2289): 8, col. 1 [unsigned]
MUSICAL, ETC., GOSSIP.
The Sunday Times 1882 October 8 Town Edition
7, col. 4 [Country edition page ref. is the same] [unsigned]
THEATRICAL, MUSICAL, ETC., GOSSIP. The Sunday Times 1882 October 15 Town Edition 3105: 7, col. 4 [Country edition page ref. is the same] [unsigned]
It is said that a single performance of "Perola," in order to secure the copyright, will be given at Croydon in November. But others assert with equal confidence that the piece is to be given at the Savoy.
MESSRS GILBERT AND SULLIVAN'S new comic opera will be graced by some of the most remarkable costumes ever seen upon the stage. Several of the characters in the opera are supposed to be peers of the realm, and Messrs Ede and Son, the famous robe-makers to her Majesty, the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury, &c., have been commissioned by Mr Gilbert to prepare robes of the most splendid kind. They will be of the same quality and make as worn by peers on state occasions, and, having seen a specimen robe at the establishment of the above eminent firm, we can testify as to the richness of the materials and the excellence of the workmanship. The robes will be of the finest velvet, of various colours, blue, crimson, green, &c., and they will be trimmed with ermine, while embroidered satin vests and breeches, with silk stockings, and all other details of a state costume, will be included, the most costly materials being employed throughout. Therefore, when those personages appear in the opera they will be dressed in exactly the same style as peers at a real Court ceremonial. Other costumes, in which gold lace, delicate fringes, &c., are used. will be also very beautiful, and Mr Gilbert has personally superintended their production. When we add that the cost of some of those elaborate dresses will not be far short of fifty pounds each some idea may be formed of the splendour with which the new opera will be placed upon the stage.
The noising abroad of some of the particulars that help to make up the new opera which is to succeed "Patience" at the Savoy, has greatly exercised the mind of Mr. Schwank [sic] Gilbert, who has, I hear, bound over the whole of his company to secrecy. Any member detected humming or whistling a bar of the music off Savoy premises, will render himself liable to dismissal.
Mr. Gilbert is a man of as much authority as that Roman centurion, - when he says "Come," the members of his troupe know that they have to come; and when he says, "Do this," they know they will have to do it, or execute another of his orders, - "Go!"
Gilbert and Sullivan's new opera is to be produced some time this month. A wonderful man is Mr. Gilbert. He has quips and conceits in galore, can write the funniest of satirical verses, instruct stage supers better than anybody I know, and can bid successfully against Hebrews at a knock-out sale. Truly he is a remarkable man.
THE NEW OPERA,
The Musical Record 1882 November 25 217: 153, col. 1
Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan's new comic fairy opera, Iolanthe, or the Peer and the Peri, was produced on Saturday evening, and received from first to last with enthusiastic applause. Mr Gilbert has followed his favourite treatment of story, which, in the Sorcerer, Pinafore, and The Pirates of Penzance, have brought about such marked success. Nor can I say that Mr Sullivan has displayed any marked originality in the music. There are, undoubtedly, many charming items, and the burlesque character of some of the concerted music is particularly happy. We have in the opera a bevy of pretty fairies, a Lord Chancellor, Arabian [sic] Shepherdesses, and Peers, and from these materials the author has produced aomething that, to say the least, is very whimsical. As the opera had been thoroughly well rehearsed, the performance went without a hitch. Both author and composer were called before the curtain, and received with great applause.
“IOLANTHE; or, The Peer and the Peri,” has at last come out at the Savoy Theatre. The plums of Mr. Gilbert’s dialogue are somehow apt to get into the papers almost before the piece is fully known, and by this time a good many have been published. It appears to be the general opinion that the triumph which was achieved by “Pinafore” and “Patience” will scarcely be matched by the new play. The subject is not quite so happy as in either of these, and perhaps the music is not quite so taking. Nor has Mr. Gilbert struck any new vein which hereafter he may hope to work profitably. His reputation is not enhanced, but then it is not diminished, by the new play. His satire often takes an excellent direction. After the praises that in popular literature have not seldom been lavished on the virtues of the poor, it is very cheering to be told, to the accompaniment of Mr. Sullivan’s music, that:
“Hearts as pure and fair
The company at the Savoy Theatre must be glad that Iolanthe is at
last produced. They have been having a hard time of it. On Thursday last
week they rehearsed till two o'clock in the morning, and the dress rehearsal
on Friday did not conclude much before that hour. The first act took from
eight till eleven to rehearse. The repetitions were constant. When Mr.
Sullivan was not stopping his band Mr. Gilbert was stopping his artists.
By both gentlemen the minutest details of note and gesture were unerringly
followed, and, where necessary, corrected. The "peers of the realm" required
special drilling in the carriage of their robes, articles of attire to
which they were evidently unaccustomed. The ladies of the chorus, too,
did not, at first, "trip" along quite to Mr. Gilbert's satisfaction. Of
such trifling trifles are made.
CARTE has this year sent out ten pretty ladylike girls for £1 a week
and their board. They cannot possibly exist on this sum in New York and
lead honest lives, unless they have means of their own with which to supply
the deficiency. Fancy, £1 a week for clothes, washing linen, stage
make-up and props., cab fares, lunches, doctors’ bills, and all the necessaries
of life, when your correspondent who is with Mrs Langtry writes you very
truly that her laundry bill is 24s. a week, or more than Mr Carte expects
his young ladies to live on. I hope this will prove a warning to
all young English actors who are thinking of coming to America, and that
they will ask good salaries and only come out to responsible managers.
MR GLADSTONE witnessed the performance of Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan's
new opera Iolanthe, at the Savoy Theatre, on Monday evening. As on the
previous occasion when he visited the same house during the run of Patience,
the Premier was recognised immediately on entering, and received an enthusiastic
greeting. The assembled audience rose to their feet and heartily cheered
him as, accompanied by his son, Mr Herbert Gladstone, M.P., he proceeded
to take his seat in the fourth row of the orchestra stalls. The performance
was received, if possible, with increased favour, the presence of the Premier
giving additional piquancy to the political allusions with which Mr Gilbert's
very original and amusing story is interspersed.
MR D'OYLY CARTE will have enough to do in saving
Iolanthe from the
American pirates. Half a dozen companies, it is said, are now forming to
do the new opera, without the slightest moral right to it.
in New York
Sir, – The
offensive innuendoes of your New York correspondent in last week’s Era
would meet with little attention from me in the way of letter writing were
it not that they contain “half a truth.” The young ladies whom I send to
America to sing in chorus receive a salary of one pound a week. This is
the “half-truth.” But they are taken out from England and brought back
again at my expense as first-class saloon passengers, they have excellent
board and lodging and all the necessaries of life provided for them until
their return, and they have the pound a week to spend. For their boarding
I pay by contract at the rate, I believe, of two pounds a week each. Your
correspondent’s assertion that they cannot live honestly, and his implication
that they are sent out to live on prostitution, and that I am not a responsible
manager make up a pretty whole lie.
I am, yours obediently, R. D’OYLY CARTE.
[With reference to the above, we have reason to believe that our New York correspondent’s remarks were influenced by personal feeling. This, of course, we regret, and we have taken such steps as will prevent a recurrence of such conduct. – ED. THE ERA.]
The SAVOY was, of course, well provided for by Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan's new fairy fantastic opera of Iolanthe, produced here only a month since. The author's sly satire, and the composer's harmonious strains, received ample acknowledgement, and full appreciation was shown of the varied ability displayed by Miss Alice Barnett, Miss Leonora Braham, Miss Jessie Bond, Miss Julia Gwynne, Miss Fortescue, and Messrs George Grossmith, Rutland Barrington, Charles Manners, R. Temple, E. Lewis, and D. Lely.
The long-looked-for and mysteriously announced operatic successor to Patience at the Savoy Theatre saw the light (electric) on Saturday evening last under the title of Iolanthe ; or, the Peer and the Peri, and was presented to a crowded house, receiving an enthusiastic reception which augured well for its permanent success. With such an artistic partnership as Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan it was to be expected that the libretto would be of the serio-comic and whimsical nature associated with their joint enterprise in this direction, and that the music would be wedded to the words in such a manner as to brig out the full spirit of Mr. Gilbert's fantastical lines. Every anticipation for a production worthy of comparison with its predecessors was realised, and it was the opinion of a majority that Iolanthe is the best of the series of operettas for which this talented combination of art and harmony is responsible. The groundwork of the operetta is much the same as in Patience, with the addition of the supernatural agency of fairies, and there is greater diversity of satire and interest. It is needless to say that Mr. Grossmith, as the Lord Chancellor, made the most of his impersonation, and his mock gravity and entertaining songs were inexpressibly laughter-provoking. Miss Alice Barnett, as the Fairy Queen, was peculiarly well suited to her part, which in all probability had been expressly written for her. Miss Leonora Braham sang tunefully, and proved herself a shepherdess of the first water. The Iolanthe of Miss Bond was a good performance, and together with Miss Fortescue and Miss Julia Gwynne, who led the fairy revels with spirited grace, earned the plaudits of an appreciative audience. Mr. Rutland Barrington, with his unrivalled dry humour, was ably aided by Mr. Duward [sic] Lely, and Mr. Temple's Strephon was a fair effort. Numerous encores were demanded, and these, with clamourings for the author and composer, prolonged the performance till near midnight. Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan appear to have created a strong taste for their productions, and there is little doubt that this, their last and best effort, will hold the boards of the handsome little theatre for a long time to come.
I hear that there has been a great demand for early copies of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's new opera, orders coming in from all parts of the country as soon as its issue was announced. In America, the reception accorded to Iolanthe has been of a somewhat mixed character. I have seen some criticisms which have been published there in which the work is very severely handled indeed. Good audiences have, however, been drawn by the performances of it given in New York.
A large audience assembled in the San Francisco Minstrel Hall last evening to witness the début of Mr. Birch as the Fairy Mother and Mr. Backus as the Fairy Queen, "fair, fat and forty," in their version of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe" entitled "High and Lengthy; or, the Steer and the Peri." The graceful forms of Messrs. Birch and Backus arrived in the gauzy costumes of fairy-land, and the litheness of their movements charmed the spectators from the beginning of the opera until the closing transformation scene, which afforded a glimpse of fairy-land, and strangely enough a view also of Hunter's Point. In the first part of the entertainment some capital ballad-singing was done by Messrs. Charles F. Shattuck, Stanley Grey, Gharles Garland, and William Hamilton, the vocal quartet of the troupe. The audience was appreciative and rewarded the artists with a generous share of applause. "High and Lengthy" will be produced every evening and at the Saturday matinées until further notice.
'IOLANTHE' will probably soon be added to the repertory of all the travelling opera companies.
BOUCICAULT wrote to a London friend the other day: "If you want to see 'Iolanthe' presented as it should be you must come to Boston and visit the Bijou."
"IOLANTHE" is being burlesqued by the San Francisco Minstrels, New York, this week. It is called 'High-and-lengthy; or the steer and the deri,' and is given with a 'plaster cast of characters.'
'Iolanthe' Company comprises James A. Gilbert, Chancellor; Harry
Strephon; Myron A. Thomas, Tololler; Chas, W. Allson,
Ararat; Robt. Evans, Willis; Rose Dana, Iolanthe;
Ida Mulle, Phyllis; Amelia Summerville, Fairy Queen. Sig.
Novellis is musical director.
"IOLANTHE" reached its fiftieth performance in New York on Monday evening.
Mollie Fuller of the Bijou Theatre 'Iolanthe' Company, possesses much talent.
"IOLANTHE" has begun its sixth week most auspiciously.
ABBOTT. Emma Abbott's Opera Company is rehearsing "Iolanthe.'
MAHN. Mr. H. B. Mahn is organizing an "Iolanthe" Company.
SEYMOUR. W. H. Seymour has joined the Barton Opera Company.
ROOM CONCERTS. - Conductor, Mr W.E. Salmon. - On Saturday last the conductor
took his annual benefit. The programme was a good one. By the permission
of Mr D'Oyly Carte, Miss Josephine Findlay and Mr Courtice Pounds (who
respectively take the parts of Phyllis and Lord Tolloller in the Iolanthe
company) appeared, and sang some excellent songs, being encored in each.
Mr W. Robinson (conductor of theIolanthe
company) played some pianoforte solos in good taste. [...]
HASTINGS. On the occasion of the fiftieth performance of "Iolanthe" at the Bijou Theatre, on Monday evening, the treasurer, Mr. E. H. Hastings, assumed the direction of the orchestra with a facility that reminded his friends of his success as a conductor of a college orchestra some years ago.
SAYS a New York paper: 'The Bijou Theatre, of Boston, has accomplished a remarkable thing. In the short space of six or seven weeks it has established itself as a favorite amusement resort for Boston's best and most critical class of theatre-goers, and the house has never been less than full. 'Iolanthe,' as given by the Rice-Collier Company, has been an unequivocal hit, and deservedly so, for it is excellently sung and beautifully staged. It will hold the boards for many weeks to come.
[...] Messrs. Solomon and Stephens have brought out their comic opera, Virginia, in New York with considerable success. On the other hand, the Americans seem by no means universally pleased with Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, which is objected to as being too much like its predecessors.
Musical Gossip. The Pictorial World 1883 February 24 New series 2(26): 219, col. 1, pgph. 4 [by "A.E."]
A very special performance of Iolanthe was given the other afternoon at the Savoy Theatre, when sundry leading members of the theatrical profession were invited to note the effect of the latest experiment in electric lighting. Actors and actresses generally form a good audience. They know the value of applause and they know how to bestow it, and they were not slow to recognise the full effect of Mr. Gilbert's humour or of Mr. Sullivan's music, while the efforts of the various performers were received with every sign of appreciation and goodwill. By way of compliment to the visitors, Mr. Arthur Sullivan himself conducted the first part of the opera, and under the exceptionally favourable circumstances the performance as a whole went even better than usual. On this occasion a still wider application of electricity than had previously been ventured upon was adopted. Electric sparks glittered on the heads of all the fairies instead of being limited as before to theleading members of the band, and the effect thus produced was charming in the extreme. Of course this arrangement involves the carrying of a small battery by each electrically decorated fairy; but the details are all so admirably managed that no inconvenience seems to be experienced. I don't know that any fresh attractions are needed to ensure the continued popularity of Iolanthe, but certainly this application of the electric light is well worth seeing.
SIR, — Paragraphs have appeared in various journals which have given rise to a report that the opera, Iolanthe, is about to be withdrawn immediately, and that a new opera is now in rehearsal. Will you allow me to explain that this is not the case? It is correct that Mr W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan are writing a new opera which will be produced when required; but nothing is as yet decided as to the date of production. Iolanthe will not be withdrawn from the Savoy until the receipts diminish so as to make it desirable to change the programme. I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
R. D'OYLY CARTE, Proprietor and Manager.
ROYAL. — Lessee, Mrs C Rice. — One of Mr D'Oyly Carte's best companies
is delighting the large audiences here again in Iolanthe. The fairy
opera has lost none of its attractiveness, and it is put upon the stage
with more than ordinary care and magnificence. Miss Grahame succeeds Miss
Clement as Phyllis, rendering the music and acting with the consummate
skill of an artist. Miss Haidee Crofton is charming as Iolanthe; Mr Hervet
D'Egville sings splendidly as Strephon; Mr Geo Marler's Private Willis
is still a feature of the opera; Miss Fanny Harrison has many admirers
in the character she retains; Mr John Wilkinson hits off the peculiarities
of the Lord Chancellor to perfection, and is decidedly original; Mr James
Sydney as Earl Tololler and Mr T. W. Hemsley as Earl Mountararat acquit
themselves admirably. The Misses Levison, St. Maur, and Gwynne are charming
Fairies, Mr G. Arnold's bâton is effective in the band, and the chorus
is an efficient one.
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