|Iolanthe > Reviews > "E" Company in Derby
The Derby Mercury (Derby, England), Wednesday, August 6, 1884; Issue 8847.
"Iolanthe" and "Patience" were very pleasantly performed at Derby Lecture Hall, on Friday and Saturday respectively, by that one of Mr. D'Oyly Carte's numerous opera companies of which Mr. H. T. Brickwell is the acting, and Mr. Welbye Wallace the stage, manager. "Patience" was not, on the whole, quite so well done as "Iolanthe," but both representations were nevertheless enjoyable. The pieces (under the earnest and skilful auspices of Mr. Wallace) were very creditably staged; the orchestra, if small, proved itself, under the able and energetic conductorship of Mr. Robinson, a considerable improvement upon the time-honoured "grand" piano; and the troupe itself, albeit made up mainly of young artists, showed itself capable of excellent and agreeable things.
Miss Bessie Wilkinson was the prima donna, and displayed the possession of a clear, sweet soprano of no great range or power. Vocally, in fact, Miss Wilkinson was not quite adequate to either of her roles, but she acted in both with much appreciation of their humour. Of the other ladies, Miss Millie Vere was heard to much effect as Iolanthe, her principal song (a very touching melody) being sung with taste and feeling. Miss Isabelle Muncey appeared both as the Queen of the Fairies and Lady Jane, making a greater success in the former than in the latter character. As the Queen, in fact, she is acceptable both vocally and histrionically; as Lady Jane she has neither quite the depth of voice nor quite the breadth of style which is necessary to the successful representation of the role. Miss Lucy Carr Shaw was the Celia of one piece and the Lady Ella of the other, and her well-trained voice and prepossessing manner made a good impression. She is a promising young artist. Miss Freda Bevan as Leila showed powers of comedy which should be cultivated, and Miss Bernard as the Lady Angela did good service with her excellent contralto.
Mr. Albert James was more satisfactory as the Lord Chancellor than as Bunthorne. The former is a clever piece of work, marked by praiseworthy individuality; the latter is somewhat overdrawn. Mr. Fairbanks, again, is more acceptable as Mountararat than as Grosvenor; for the former he is well fitted, but in the latter is not so much at ease. Mr. Thieler, again, is a capital Private Willis, but perhaps the most successful of the gentlemen is Mr. Albert Christian, whose sonorous baritone is used to much advanatage both in Strephon and the Colonel.
The concerted music was all well done, the sestet in "Patience" being particularly good; whilst the choruses were unexceptionally given. The operas, we may add, were both very popular. Both drew a crowded audience, and the encores were numerous and hearty. Perhaps "Iolanthe" was the more favopurably received, not only because more acceptably performed, but because the satire in "Patience" is becoming a little monotonous, and also because the public is particularly ready just now to take up the Parliamentary allusions with which "Iolanthe" abounds. But, in truth, "Iolanthe" has the lovelier music and the more lasting wit. The melodies of "Patience" will always have their charm, but those of "Iolanthe" will have the longer life, and the dialogue of "Iolanthe" will live when the craze of the æsthetes has been forgotten. It would be ungracious to conclude without thanking Mr. Frederic Brown, of Lichfield, for the pleasure he was able to secure for his patrons on Friday and Saturday last.