Gilbert and Sullivan Archive
Opening Night Reviews
The Morning Post remarked on the serious nature of the opera:
"The public does not associate homilies with a libretto by Sir William Gilbert, and such are freely provided in the closing scene in which Selene endeavours to draw moral conclusions from the contact of the fairies with the wicked world."
"Mr. Edward German's music is graceful, and sometimes rises to real dramatic power, as in Darine's song with the charm; it is always pleasing, and there are certain numbers, like Zayda's dance near the beginning of the second act, which none but Mr. German could write."
"Mr. Edward German's music is charming always. The whole score is one of which British musicians may be proud; in its lightest moments it is worthy of serious attention, and it never ceases to be characteristic of Mr. German's unmistakable vein of invention. In his best music one always seems to see the dames of the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries joining hands. The scoring is full of the happiest touches. Without copying Sullivan, it carried on the Sullivan tradition in the worthiest way, and the happy union of progressive taste and a conservatism, which even the most advanced must approve of the music, is one of its sources of strengths. The skill of the choral writing is none the less remarkable because it is unobtrusive. There are but few living composers who could avoid monotony in writing for an exclusively female chorus as successfully as Mr. German has done."
The Daily Telegraph:
"Nobody who heard 'Merrie England' or 'A Princess of Kensington' will doubt for a moment that in Mr. Edward German the Savoy librettist has found a willing and worthy coadjutor. How readily this composer adapted himself to the Savoy manner he showed us when he completed the score of Sullivan's 'Emerald Isle', but he has never, happily, lost his own individuality, and of it he offers the public constant tokens in the music he has written for the new opera. We cannot help thinking that he must have found himself hampered to no small extant by the absence of a male chorus, the more so since the fair inhabitants of the Cloudland which the fancy of his collaborator evolved are seldom off the stage – never, in fact, during the first act – and, however deft the concerted writing, it was inevitable that the ear should yearn occasionally for voices to balance those of the sopranos and contraltos. All the more credit belongs, therefore, to Mr. German for the spirit and success with which he has carried out his share of the work."
Finally, The Standard:
"The choruses – notwithstanding the absence of the male element – and the first chorus in particular, which works up to an ecstatic climax, were quite the most memorable moments of the evening."
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