|Iolanthe > Reviews > No.1 "Iolanthe" Company in Bristol
The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post (Bristol, England), Monday, November 12, 1883; Issue 11075.
To-night, Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "Iolanthe" Company will commence an engagement with Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's popular opera, which gives them their distinctive title, and in the course of which they will add to the evening representations of the week a special illuminated day performance on Saturday. Of "Iolanthe" as a musical play it can hardly be necessary to say much. In the whimsical character of its story, its witty dialogue, and its more than agreeable music, it shares in the popularity of "The Pirates of Penzance," "Patience," &c.
Mr. D'Oyly Carte's connection with it also gives assurance that it will be carefully and well rendered. He is one of the metropolitans, who, recognising that they have reputations to uphold, rarely if ever send into the provinces anything that is not worthy of their names. "Iolanthe" this week will be sustained by the same thoroughly efficient artistes as supplied the cast when the opera was last performed here, and will of course bring with them the advantage of having since had several months of practice.
The orchestral and other arrangements will also be closely attended to, so that a satisfying performance may be relied upon. The places, we are pleased to learn, are being secured in a manner which promises fashionable houses.
The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post (Bristol, England), Tuesday, November 13, 1883; Issue 11076.
Last night Mr. D'Oyly Carte's opera company commenced a brief return visit to this house with Gilbert and Sullivan's fairy opera of "Iolanthe; or, The Peer and the Peri," and it was gratifying to find the enterprise of the managers rewarded by the presence of a numerous and fashionable audience.
It cannot, we are sure, be necessary to describe a plot with which Bristol playgoers, and especially the readers of this journal, have already been made familiar. We had an opportunity of noticing it in extenso when the opera was first produced in London; and again when it migrated to the Theatre Royal, Bath; and as lately as June last we devoted more than a column to a detailed description of it. It will be sufficient for the present, then, if we say that it describes one of those farcically, fanciful stories which Mr. Gilbert is such an adept at framing for Sir Arthur Sullivan's tuneful illustration.
Its association with fairy lore and its humorous blending of the material with the ethereal in some degree removes it from the category in which "Pinafore," "The Pirates of Penzance," and "Patience" hold places, but there is, nevertheless, no mistaking the paternity of either the libretto or the music. The dialogue exhibits the whimsical fancy, and comical conceits, and the wit and sparkle of Mr. Gilbert's muse, and there runs through it a true Gilbertian vein of good-tempered political satire. The music is characterised by the tunefulness and graceful flow of melody, the cleverly constructed and occasionally grand harmonies, and, quite as much as either, the mastery of instrumentation and orchestral effect which are so generally to be encountered in Sir Arthur Sullivan's operatic writings.
The opera has been produced in as complete a manner as on its former representation. There is an augmented orchestra, well trained chorus, some of Mr. M. H. Barraud's well rendered scenery, and appropriate and elegant costumes by competent costumiers.
The cast, too, if we except the substitution of Miss Esme Lee for Miss Laura Clement in the character of the Arcadian shepherdess, Phyllis, is precisely the same as on the last occasion. As we had anticipated, the additional practice they have had has given the artistes a firmer grasp of their characters, and has enabled them to fill them in with many little effective bits of by play. The result is that the opera goes with increased smoothness and spirit.
The character of Phyllis loses nothing in the hands of Miss Esme Lee. She has a nice, fresh voice, and sings very agreeably, and her acting is naïve and effective. Miss Fanny Harrison's Fairy Queen is still marked by the high qualities which won renown for her on the former occasion. Her rich contralto notes and impressive style thoroughly fit her for the part. Miss Beatrix Young was again a charming Iolanthe, and the minor lady characters of Lelia, Celia, and Fleta were also well filled by the Misses Kate Forster, Mary Duggan, and Evelyn Carstairs.
Mr. Federici has greatly improved since he was last here, and his Strephon last night was a thoroughly artistic performance. Mr. Cadwaladr's voice has also increased in fulness, and he sang finely as the Earl of Tolloller. Mr. Walter Greyling, as the Earl of Mountararat, also quite sustained his former reputation. Mr. Marler was, of course, very effective as Private Willis of the Grenadier Guards, whist Mr. Frank Thornton's Lord Chancellor – a really high class example of character acting – was as amusing as ever. He was heartily applauded and as heartily laughed at, and his songs were vociferously redemanded.
There were many encores, and the choruses were received with marked favour; indeed the opera went with an effectiveness which not only proved very satisfying to last night's audience, but was full of promise for the week.
The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post (Bristol, England), Saturday, November 17, 1883; Issue 11080.
The fairy comic opera of "Iolanthe" has held the boards of this house during the week, and considering the fanciful and amusing character of Mr. Gilbert's conceit, the great beauty of Sir Arthur Sullivan's music, and the perfect manner in which Mr. D'Oyly Carte's numerous and highly efficient company have rendered the work, it is no matter of surprise that it has afforded very pleasurable entertainment to large audiences.
To-day the managers will give a mid-day performance, and from what we hear there is likely to be a fashionable attendance. Such representations are becoming very popular in the metropolis, and there can be no doubt that they afford to dwellers in the surrounding villages, aged persons, and invalids, opportunities which they would not otherwise have of witnessing and hearing the current dramatic productions. The last night performance will take place this evening, and on Monday the popular actress Miss Ada Cavendish will commence a brief engagement.
The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post (Bristol, England), Monday, November 19, 1883; Issue 11081.
The day and evening performances of "Iolanthe" on Saturday attracted very large audiences, and the frequency of the hearty applause and the encores attested that, admirably rendered as it has been by Mr. D'Oyly Carte's company, Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's opera has had a firm hold on the popular favour.
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