— I have pleasure in recording the brilliant success of the new operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, which Messrs. Sullivan and Gilbert brought out at the Fifth Avenue Theatre on the last night of the old year. They had an enormous audience, drawn principally from "fashionable society," a house such as one rarely sees except on a gala night at the Italian Opera, and all through the performance the theatre rang with laughter and trembled with applause. Author and composer were repeatedly called before the curtain; nearly all the principal songs and choruses were demanded a second time; and the jokes are already in everybody's mouth. A remarkable interest was taken in the production of this new piece. Several days in advance of the performance, the Tribune devoted a column to a hint of the story and a description of certain laughable points; the Herald received by cable the whole of the article in the Daily News of Dec. 29 relative to the representation at Paignton; and the morning after the performance here all the Press discussed it at great length, the Tribune and Herald each allowing their critics as much as a column and a half. It seems to be the general opinion that the new work is in every respect superior to the Pinafore, the text more humorous, the music more elegant and elaborate, and the wit displayed – by both Sullivan and Gilbert – in the travesty of serious opera altogether keener and more delicate. That it should secure such phenomenal popular favour as the Pinafore is, perhaps, not to be expected. Phenomena are not repeated every season. Besides, the Pinafore was almost the first work of its class America had seen. The novelty of such pleasant entertainments is now worn off. I have no doubt, however, that The Pirates of Penzance has started upon a long and prosperous run. The first performance was in most respects a smooth one, and the principal actors – especially Miss barnett and Mr Ryley – were cordially applauded. The tenor, Mr Talbot, was the one weak member of the cast. He was lamentably ignorant of his lines, and on the second night his memory was still worse than on the first. — New York Correspondence of the "Daily News."
transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 18 December 2000