Music and Musicians. The Sunday Times 1898
September 25 3938: 6, col. 4, pgphs. 2-4 [unsigned review]
How time flies! When "The Sorcerer" and "Trial by
Jury" were first revived at the Savoy, Mr. Gilbert's "young lady of fifteen"
– suposing her to be still in existence – was only a year old. It is reasonable,
therefore, to assume that to her and all of her generation the present
revival will afford the equivalent of a genuine novelty, and I hope that
Mr. D'Oyly Carte will reap the full benefit of a shrewd managerial move
liberally carried out. The older patrons of his establishment ought certainly
to be glad to renew acquaintance with two favourite specimens of Gilbert
and Sullivan opera that time seems powerless to rob of their pristine freshness
and fragrance. Comparisons will be made, of course. Some will say
that George Grossmith, Rutland Barrington, and Richard Temple were an imitable
trio, and that "The Sorcerer" without them cannot possibly be like the
original "Sorcerer" of the Opera Comique days. But here I for one shall
immediately join issue, and declare that Walter Passmore, Henry A. Lytton,
and Jones Hewson are so little, if at all, inferior to their distinguished
predecessors that the humour of Mr. Gilbert's creations and the fascination
of Sir Arthur Sullivan's music lose absolutely nothing in their hands.
Mr. Gilbert has made a few alterations in the dialogue
and mise en scène of "The Sorcerer," but practically everything
is the same as in 1884, when the opera was revised by both author and composer.
Of the cast which then appeared, Miss Rosina Brandram alone remains at
the Savoy to renew, "en vraie grande dame," her unapproachable assumption
of Lady Sangazure. This is as perfect in its way as ever. Wholly excellent,
too, is Miss McAlpine's embodiment of Mrs. Partlet, the pew-opener; it
reminds me exactly of the quaint original of Miss Everard. Miss Ruth Vincent,
as Aline, was too nervous to do herself justice on Thursday; it was a pity
she could not borrow some of the assurance and dash of the new Alexis,
Mr. Robert Evett, who, however, may be counselled to use greater restraint
in the use of his undoubtedly fine tenor voice. The rôle of the charity
girl, Constance, is scarcely in Miss Emmie Owen's line, but to so intelligent
an artist no part can come amiss. In the grotesque incantation scene Mr.
Passmore is extremely diverting, and Mr. Lytton obtains the reward of industry
by the effect that he makes with his own flageolet obbligato in the second
of the Vicar's songs. Altogether the performance leaves behind a delightful
sense of smoothness and efficiency.
Dear old "Trial by Jury" once
more furnishes the concluding section of a most agreeable musical evening.
I do not remember a more engaging Plaintiff than Miss Isabel Jay – a pretty
girl with a pretty voice – or a more truly forensic Judge than Mr. H. A.
Lytton, and really it seemed the most natural thing in the world for them
to pair off at the end. Mr. Cory James as the Defendant and Mr. Jones Hewson
as the Counsel are both capital, and Mr. Passmore cuts some very whimsical
capers as the Usher. Needless to add that the Savoy chorus fairly revel
in their duties as bridesmaids and jurymen, helping to carry the clever
travesty through with the buoyancy and "snap" which it so essentially requires.
Both pieces are conducted with original ability and judgment by Mr. François
Cellier, than whom no one has the true traditions of Savoy comic opera
more completely at his finger-tips. To Mr. Cellier, as well as to Mr. Gilbert
and Mr. D'Oyly Carte, are due the honours of this singularly successful
revival, and from the cordial warmth with which recognition thereof was
made on Thursday I should imagine the present bill will not require alteration
for many months to come.
transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 6 April 2001