You are here: Archive Home > Gondoliers > Review from the Times (London)

Review from the Times (London)

30 Sept 1919, page 9

"The Gondoliers" appeared at the Princess Theatre last night under Mr. Gilbert Miller's direction. It is about a decade since we heard it last, and exactly three since the production. Everybody was saying how splendid it is to hear these old things again. Old! Well not new, but ever young. By "these things" they mean, of course, the tunes you nod and beat time to, and bring out a battered old copy when you get home and strum over. Yes, they are splendid enough. There is not one of them alike, or like any other tune of comic opera, least of all like what their author called the best comic opera in the world - the "Meistersinger," But though they are like nothing else, they are like music. We are taking off our (mental) hat at any moment to a bit of Handel, a cadence of Mendelssohn, (as befitted the as befitted the first Mendelssohn scholar) and at all moments to Mozart's power of gauging the dramatic moment with his music. And in spite of all this the music that has deluged since, is not half so original, in a truly musical sense; that does not devise musical ways of untying knots as this does. For music itself is not in the least comic; it simply moves on a different plane, and the good composer of comic opera makes music laugh with its own jaws, and not with another. Look at that long curley tune about "woman's heart and hand," as if they could never never be separated," and what a blessed thing they couldn't or take "pair of sparkling eyes" running up hill to come tumbling down another way catching in rocks and brambles; and then listening to flutes and things playing with it and laughing at and condoling with it, Only the patter rather bores me; but if Gilbert would write it, what was Sullivan to do else? There is, as George Grove said, "a kink in the brain and heartstrings of composers" that they can't write so simply true nowadays," and so the old school with our dear Arthur as the latest product must go." Well, the modern school can take care of itself, but today we will do justice to out "dear Arthur."

The whole thing, scenery, dresses, chorus work came together without a hitch. Mr. Toye conducted. The audience received everything from the overture onwards with rapturous delight, and we do not remember a single song or hardly a single ensemble that was not encored. The actors are too many to particularize. Some, like Mrs. Briercliffe danced; some like Miss Griffin, sang: others like Mr. Lytton made the kind of face that brings old fashioned words into fashion again. They all knew their work and delighted in it.

Updated 10 December 2003