SAVOY THEATRE. The Musical Times 1893 November 1 34(609): 663 [unsigned review]

    IT would be idle to deny that a very large measure of musical and general public interest attended the production of Mr. W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan's new opera "Utopia (Limited)," on the 7th ult. Although difference of opinion has from the first prevailed respecting the intrinsic art value of the world-famous series of works bearing the joint-names of these gifted authors, the unique qualities they possess cannot be gainsaid; and when the fact was published that an unfortunate dispute over a trivial matter had been adjusted, and that dramatist and composer had once more joined hands, the rejoicing was widespread. Eminent English and foreign musiciand and persons of both sexes who have attained celebrity in other walks of life were present in large force on the above-named occasion, and all would have indulged in renewed jubilations had "Utopia (Limited)" proved equal in humour and general freshness to the most successful of the companion works. This, unfortunately, cannot be said, although, of course, as compared with ordinary productions of the opéra bouffe class it stands out sufficiently clear. Mr. Gilbert could not put forward a silly or inane book, and Sir Arthur Sullivan could not pen music otherwise than refined, tuneful, and characterised by musicianly touches. It is only in comparison with such masterpieces of humour and dramatic and musical satire as "Patience," "The Mikado," "The Yeomen of the Guard," and "The Gondoliers" that the libretto of "Utopia (Limited)" seems a trifle dull, particularly in the first Act, and the music for the most part reminiscent rather than fresh. The mainspring of the action is in the caricature of English institutions, or rather of institutions supposed to be peculiarly English. These are introduced on an island somewhere in the South Pacific, which appears to be a very delightful place until the arrival of the King's daughter fresh from Girton, and accompanied by half-a-dozen "imported flowers of progress" as represented by a military officer, a learned Q.C., a Lord Chamberlain, a County Councillor, a company promoter, and a naval captain. These British worthies proceed to remodel the island, and the consequences are disastrous, but, of course, all is made right at the end. The first Act is, or was, much too long, for probably by this time it has undergone the needful compression. The second played much closer, and here occur the best of Sir Arthur Sullivan's numbers. There are, among other good things, a well built up Finale, a song caricaturing a tenor with a cold, an amazingly funny parody of a Christy Minstrel entertainment, and an unaccompanied concerted piece in which the composer is almost, if not quite, at his best. Mention should also be made of the stately dance measure accompanying the beautiful stage reproduction of a Court Drawing-room. From Mr. D'Oyly Carte's company we miss such old favourites as Miss Jessie Bond and Mr. Grossmith, but among the recruits Miss Nancy McIntosh and Mr. Charles Kenningham are highly acceptable; and Mr. Rutland Barrington, Mr. Scott Fishe, Mr. W. H. Denny, Mr. John Le Hay, and Miss Rosina Brandram are all provided with parts adapted to their several abilities.


transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 16 December 2000