The Sorcerer.

Music and Drama 1882 October 21 4(3): 7, col. 2-3 [by Frederic Archer]

    The revival of this work at the Bijou Opera House on Tuesday last proved quite an important event, and great credit is due to Mr. McCaull, for the conscientious care bestowed on its production. Mr. Jesse Williams is also entitled to honorable mention for the uniform smoothness which characterized the musical rendering of an opera that is not by any means free from executive difficulties.
    "The Sorcerer" was specially written to inaugurate the first season of the London "Comedy Opera Company" in 1876. It did not achieve a success, and the director decided to close the theatre and bring the enterprise to a sudden termination, when Arthur Sullivan, as a dernier resort, suggested that it be tried for one week longer, and he would exert his social influence in the hope of turning the tide. He did so, and the Duke of Edinburgh and various leaders of fashion attended, with most encouraging results. The box-office receipts steadily rose, and, although no extensive profit was realized, previous losses were recovered, and the contemplated collapse was averted. The next production, "Pinafore," however, soon filled the theatre to its utmost capacity, and each subsequent work by the same authors has been received with unbounded enthusiasm.
    The fact, nevertheless, remains that "The Sorcerer" is by far the most meritorious work of its class Gilbert and Sullivan have produced. The libretto is novel in idea, epigrammatic in style, and pervaded by a delicate vein of satire, that is exceedingly fascinating, and the music, although not altogether free from plagiarisms, in more than one instance, affords evidence of real power, notably in the finale to the first act, which reaches the level of grand opera. The performance, on this occasion, was exceedingly good, and honestly deserves warm commendation.
    One cause for regret, however, was the substitution of "rough and ready" instrumentation for Sullivan's delicate scoring that abounds in delicious effect of color and charming conversational episodes, features which do not exist in the version which was used on Tuesday evening owing to the inability of the management to obtain the original orchestral parts. In London, too, it has been customary to adopt the "Brisk Dance" from the same composer's incidental music to "Henry VIII." by way of introduction, but Mr. Wermig (the principal first violin at the Bijou) has concocted a medley overture made up of material existing in the work itself, and has done his work fairly, although he appears to have an absorbing predilection for the cornet. It must be admitted, however, that the work as a whole suffers from indifferent scoring.
    Miss Lillian Russell, whose vocal capabilities have greatly improved, was admirable as Aline,

[...]
 

Nevertheless, that matter of orchestration urgently needs attention.

FREDERIC ARCHER.




 

transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 12 October 2002