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The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive   1924 G&S Season

For violent and stimulating contrasts not one of the operas can compare with Patience. First of all, the super-æsthetic maidens (of whom I counted more than twenty), and then the incursion of the very material Dragoons. First, drowsy and æsthetic music; then music as scarlet as the tunics of the singers. After that, the contrast between the robust common-sense of Patience and the perverted intellectuality of the Lady Angela. Bunthorne is himself a paradox, feigning an æstheticism which he does not feel, yet lacking the vigorous masculinity of the soldiers. Finally the ultimate Grosvenor—'the threepenny 'bus young man’—as compared with the original Grosvenor, the exquisite effeminate. The play itself abounds with sudden changes. Towards the end of the first act all seems more or less well. The soldiers have their fiancées once again; only Patience is sacrificed to duty and to Bunthorne. And then the whole situation is revolutionised by the entrance of Grosvenor, and a second act becomes a necessity.

What a second act it is! It is both a necessity and a luxury. What could be more amusing than the Lady Jane and her quite irrelevant 'cello, or her subsequent pursuit and final instantaneous abandonment. of poor Bunthorne? What more popular than ‘The Silver Churn'? What more charmingly diverse from this than 'Love is a Plaintive Song'? Here we have the great charm of Mr. Granville, the never-failing versatility of Miss Lewis, the fascination of Miss Lawson, and the genius of Mr. Lytton at their maximum.

Present-day audiences seem to prefer 'The Silver Churn' to any other number ever written by Gilbert and Sullivan. On one occasion during the past season so sustained was the applause, and so many were the encores, that, when the chorus had finally withdrawn and the clamour had subsided, Mr. Granville's next words, 'At last they are gone,' were so much to the point that they were greeted with a tempest of laughter and applause. It is difficult to assign a reason for the immense popularity of this song, except that its melody is simple without being commonplace, and easily memorable. And it was very well sung by a deservedly very popular artist.

I never expect to hear a song better sung than 'Love is a Plaintive Song,' as performed by Miss Lawson. Her singing is always effortless—or apparently so—and as pure and clear as the note of a bird. Never does her voice 'wobble'; it is always under perfect control, and its quality remains unchanged, whether the volume is increased or diminished, throughout its whole compass.

Patience Patience and Grosvenor
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