|Carte > Savoy Theatre > Opening NIght
After having been more than once postponed, in the hope that a little delay would perfect the electric lamps, destined eventually to light all parts of the house, the opening of the new Savoy Theatre took place last night. To have delayed longer was impracticable. It was necessary that the "run" of Patience should not be broken by an interruption of a single night, and at the conclusion of Mr. D'Oyly Carte's occupation of the Opera Comique on Saturday Messrs. Sullivan and Gilbert's opera was at once transferred to the Savoy. Notices were distributed about the Savoy Theatre last night that the arrangements for the lighting of the stage by electricity would not be perfected for a few days. Just before the commencement of the performance Mr. D'Oyly Carte came on the stage and made a similar statement. He added that an attempt would be made to light the auditorium that night with the Swann incandescent lamps, and he warned the people that should any accident happen and the electric lights go out, the theatre would instantly be flooded with light from the great central sunburner.
A few minutes after Mr. Carte had disappeared the thirty-eight incandescent lamps placed around the dress circle, upper circle, and gallery were set in action, the gas was at once extinguished, and a blaze of illumination proclaimed "the light of the future."
Its effect on colour was very slight, only the gilding with which the ceiling is profusely decorated at once losing its lustre and. becoming a yellow-white. On the colours in the lades' dresses in the stalls, and on the appearance of the house, its effect was, however, very striking. The light is by no means so trying as that previously exhibited at Covent-garden and elsewhere. In colour it very nearly approaches that of gas, though it indisputably brings out details more clearly.
When the performance began, by some plan of "shunting" the current, the lights were lowered, and in the course of the evening various experiments were tried to determine the exact amount of brilliancy desirable. This electric light, enclosed in tiny pear-shaped glass bowls, was also used to illuminate the lobbies, and in a few days the whole of the stage and even the artists' dressing rooms will be lighted by it. The rest of the house being last night finished and filled, a far fairer idea of it could be gained than could be gathered at the private view on Saturday.
The theatre itself is convenient. Double exits exist to all parts of the house, and one at least of each of the lobbies and stairways is wide and commodious. The stall seats are not unduly crowded, the ventilation – sorely tried last night by the crowds which filled all parts of the theatre – seems fairly good, and even in the upper gallery capital sight and hearing can be obtained.
The upholstery and the general decorations of the theatre, executed by Messrs. Collinson and Lock, of Fleet-street, are not only pleasing to the eye, but are in thoroughly good taste, a virtue which cannot always be claimed for our London theatres. In fact, the Savoy has just pretensions to be as luxurious and comfortable as any of our new theatres, themselves models of luxury and comfort which would have astonished play-goers of even half a century ago.
There is little need to speak in detail about the performance. Patience has now passed out of the hands of the critic. It has been accepted by the public, and it has proved, financially speaking, by far the most successful of any or the operas of Messrs. Sullivan and Gilbert. To its production at the new theatre its authors had devoted as much care and pains as they did to its first performance. The work had been redressed, new scenery specially painted for the electric light by Mr. Henry Emden had been provided, and the author was present in the theatre, while the composer, for the night only, conducted in the orchestra.
Mr. Grossmith as the fleshly poet, and Mr. Rutland Barrington as the idyllic poet, retained the parts they created, though Mr. Barrington unfortunately was suffering from a severe cold for which suitable apologies had been made. Miss Alice Barnett was still the robust exponent of Lady Jane, Miss Leonora Braham was a bright Patience, and Messrs. Browne, Thornton, and Lely as the officers of Dragoons, Misses Bond, Gwynne, and Fortescue as the æsthetic ladies completed the cast. The opera was preceded by Sir Michael Costa's arrangement of "God save the Queen," and Mr. Arthur Sullivan on taking his seat in the orchestra was very warmly cheered.
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