The new comic opera, by Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan,
entitled "H. M. S. Pinafore," has been prompted by a true feeling for burlesque
by author and composer. It is the same kind of thing that has been done
in "Trial by Jury" and the "Sorcerer," but still it is very amusing, while
much of the music is very charming. To hear so-called grand opera imitated
through the medium of the most trifling lyrics, is funny, and this Messrs.
Gilbert and Sullivan know how to do most successfully. Those persons who
incline to an entertainment of a strong flavour will pooh-pooh such trifling
as is provided in "H.M.S. Pinafore;" but those who can appreciate that
subtle satire which is to be found, both in the libretto and the music
of this comicality, will not accuse the management of impudence for making
this the sum total of the bill.
In most respects the piece is well acted. As Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. George Grossmith, junr., plays excellently and consistently. He makes up after the authenticated portraits of the great Nelson, and his good introductory song seems levelled at the gentleman who is respinsible for the present efficiency of the navy. As Captain Corcoran, Mr. Barrington, too, plays effectively. This gentleman is by no means a robust vocalist; his voice is continually giving symptoms of weakness, and these manifestations do not beget confidence. He has, however, a quiet style of his own which, if it never startles by its brilliancy, never offends by treading near the margin of vulgarity. Mr. Temple, as Deadeye, makes the most of his opportunities, which are not of the most favourable description. Mr. Power, as Ralph Rackstraw, the able seaman, who has got mixed up by the baby farmer, labours with the best of intentions; while Mr. Clifton does excellent justice to not a very important part, and sings an excellent satire on the proposition that a man must necessarilty virtuous to be English. The words and music of this are excellent, and are revived as a wind-up chorus. To Miss Howson is entrusted the part of the Captain's Daughter. This young lady's singing voice is not a bad one, but her articulation is very faulty, while her speaking voice is not of the most agreeable quality. Miss Everard's Buttercup, the Bumboat Woman, is very good, but this lady fails to sing as well in this as she did in "The Sorcerer." Some of the choruses in this work are execrably sung; but the piece, as a whole, is very well done, and will, doubtless, remain in the bills for some considerable time.
transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 17 November 2001