|Carte > Savoy Theatre > Opening Night from Reynold's Newspaper
Reynolds's Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, October 16, 1881; Issue 1627.
This new theatre, built by Mr. D'Oyly Carte in the precincts of the Savoy, was opened on Monday night. The approaches to the theatre by narrow streets and steep ascents are certainly not of the most convenient; but the construction of the building is admirably adapted for the convenience and comfort, if not in all parts to the safety, of the audience. The subterraneous portions, comprising pit, stalls, and half a dozen front boxes, are only reached by labyrinthic passages, which, in case of sudden alarm, would, we suspect, be completely choked by the affrighted occupants.
The balcony, broad, spacious, and with a noble depth and frontage, is a wonderful improvement on those antiquated, fusty, and most uncomfortable portions of the older theatres, styled "dress circles." Here the seats are of peacock blue stamped velvet, and the rows are sufficiently wide apart. From the dress-circle corridor staircases lead to the stalls. The coverings here are of plush, the same as that used for the seats above. The same colour for the stall and box seats, much darker as it is, harmonises well with the prevailing tints of the interior.
The box linings are of Venetian red. White, pale yellow, and gold are the colour tones used in the building, and the style of decoration is the Italian Renaissance. The modellings are chaste and elegant in character, and for the most part are in pure white on a background of gold. Ornamentation is not overdone; although no part of the theatre is left cold-looking or seeming to want relief. Immediately in front of the proscenium, and over the orchestra, is an arched and gilded ceiling, divided into panels. The effect of this is rich, but not in the least garish or vulgar.
Round the curve of the box balconies the flat surface is covered with yellow plush, and a small beading is fixed with a view to prevent the falling over of opera-glasses. At the back of the circles windows are let into the walls, and this helps to give an appearance of brightness and cheerfulness. The private boxes have yellow silk curtains, and are most comfortably furnished.
On Monday the house was partially lighted by electricity; but we are not prepared to assert that the experiment of thus illuminating theatres is altogether successful. The light was frequently painfully powerful and gave a ghastly look to those before as well as behind the curtain. Vainly may powdered and plastered dames of "a certain age" attempt to conceal the wrinkles and other ravages of time in the fierce light that surrounds them.
The drop-scene is very pretty and effective and the performance of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera of "Patience," preceded by "God Save the Queen," went off with great éclat. New scenery and new dresses were provided for the occasion, and the laughter and applause were as genuine and hearty as on the first night of its representation, some five months ago.
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