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From The Times Saturday, Wednesday, June 12, 1907.
It was impossible that a note of regret should be altogether absent from the wholly successful revival of Iolanthe, which began its third series of performances at its old home last night; for it is announced that at the end of its present run the Savoy Theatre will no more know the graceful works for the sake of which it was founded. Whether it was altogether a wise proceeding to accept the verdict of the majority in making choice of a work for the last revival may be doubted, for every one could have foreseen that one of the pieces more recently revived would be chosen, rather than one of the older Savoy classics, which are practically unknown except to country admirers of the genre. As every one knows, it was originally intended to give the most successful of all, The Mikado, but there was grave objection to that, and the first of the series, The Sorcerer, was also deemed inadvisable, although it was not anticipated that the feelings of the clergy would have been wounded by Mr. Gilbert’s gentle satire. That the Navy would resent the revival of Pinafore is hardly to be thought of, but perhaps the choice that has been made was the best possible, for the House of Peers is fair game at present, and, besides, its members may be credited with enough sense of humour to allow Iolanthe to pass.
The many humours of the opera, though not a word of the dialogue seems to have been altered, at all events since the revival of 1901, are as fresh as on the day they were written, and this, as well as the unusually high standard of English diction, may be taken suggesting that the superintendence of the author has been exercised to an extent that some of the former revivals have sadly missed. The cast, too, has bean enriched by the engagement of Mr. Henry Lytton, the admirable Strephon of the former revival. The Lord Chancellor of Mr. Workman is a masterpiece, and the whole audience were of one mind as to the double encore for the dancing trio, and the “Nightmare” song was sung with marvellous glibness. Mr. Wilde’s charming singing of the tenor music is combined with a demeanour of some distinction, and even Mr. Charles Manners did not sing the sentry’s song better than Mr. Overton Moyle. Miss Jessie Rose is a charming Iolanthe, and Miss Clara Dow sings the part of Phyllis with some skill. Miss Louie René acts and speaks effectively as the Fairy Queen, but her singing of the music was considerably less good than that of either of her predecessors. Without the presence in the stalls of Sir Eyre Massey Shaw the famous appeal “O Captain Shaw” would hardly have won the encore it did.
The mounting of the opera is as elaborate and beautiful as it was 25 years ago (save only that the effect of electric lighting which added to the bulk of the fairies’ costumes was omitted); the peers were made up with a care that has never been surpassed. It is a thousand pities that a fine tradition such as the Savoy Theatre has started and so long maintained should be completely lost; but, after all, so gloomy a prospect is possibly not likely to be realized, for the enthusiasm of the audience showed that there is no diminution of interest in the charming work of Gilbert and Sullivan. At the close Mr. Gilbert appeared, and after him Mr. Cellier, who, as usual, conducted the performance. Finally, Mrs. D’Oyly Carte made her bow to the audience.
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