Review of the first night from Lloyd's Newspaper
Patience; or, Bunthorne's Bride, the æsthetic opera by Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan, produced here last night, shows no falling off, either in words or music, to any of its predecessors at this house from the same united pens. Though the action would, in the opening act, bear reduction, we hesitate to advise Mr. Gilbert to adopt any compression, inasmuch as his book is, both in its dialogue and situations, excruciatingly funny.
The scene of the first act is laid outside a mediæval castle, the owner of which is a young man named Reginald Bunthorne, who, moved by a hungry love of admiration, shams to be poet of the fleshly type of æstheticism. At the rising of the curtain a number of damsels, in flowing draperies, are grouped in various attitudes, indicative of depression. In a charmingly melodious chorus they proclaim themselves to be 20 love-sick maidens, "love-sick all against our will," the object of their adoration being the rapt Bunthorne; and their disgust is extreme when they learn that he has been seen in the dairy of Patience, a milkmaid, "eating fresh butter with a table-spoon,” in consequence of which he is that day not so well as usual. Bunthorne's influence has been so great that the 20 maidens, although they know they are all rivals of each other, are perfectly indifferent to the gay uniforms of a troop of Dragoon officers. The military are very much disgusted with the coolness of the ladies, on whose hearts they thought a year ago they had made an impression. Patience, the dairy-maid, who confesses that she has never loved anyone but her great-aunt, declines the suit of Bunthorne, who thereupon, in aid of a deserving charity, consents to put himself up to be raffled for. He is led on, bound in floral chains, by the love-sick maidens, to the sound of cymbals and old-fashioned instruments. The girls crowd round to purchase tickets for the lottery, when Patience rushes in and declares that she will be Bunthorne's bride, as her love is prompted by no selfish view. Patience's conduct is, however, actuated by disappointment. A short time before, love has been suddenly kindled in her heart by the appearance of Archibald Grosvenor, an idyllic poet, who believes that he is "gifted with a beauty that probably has not its rival on earth." Patience, hearing this, thinks it would be selfish to monopolise this beauty, and therefore shuns him. After Patience has accepted Bunthorne, Grosvenor comes upon the scene, whereupon the maidens turn to him as they had previously done to Bunthorne, who is naturally piqued at the entrance of such a formidable rival. On this situation the first act, which last night occupied an hour and a half, comes to a brisk termination. The action, it should be added, was much prolonged by the number of encores, repetitions being given of a dashing song of the colonel of dragoons; Bunthorne's song, "If you're anxious for the [sic] shine in the high æsthetic line;" a humorous skit on modern affectations; a duet that will probably be called the " willow duet" for Patience and Grosvenor; a delicious unaccompanied sestette, and the finale.
In the second act much further amusement arises out of the rivalry of the two poets; but both are shortly cut out by the three commanding officers of the dragoons also adopting the æsthetic garb and languishing over lilies. In this scene the marionette-like movements of Messrs. Richard Temple, Durward Lely, and Frank Thornton provoked roars of laughter. Bunthorne persuades Grosvenor to become matter-of-fact, and to cut his hair, but in the end he himself is left without a bride. There are some very graceful musical morceaux in this act. Mr. George Grossmith and Mr. Rutland Barrington are truly comic representatives of the two poets, and the three military men found capital interpreters in the gentlemen named, Mr. Thornton in especial showing much ability in developing a comparatively small part. Miss Leonora Braham and Miss Alice Barnett sang with much delicacy and finish, and the minor parts were well sustained. Mr. Sullivan, who was enthusiastically received, personally conducted the performance. Both the composer and the librettist-were called for at the close. The success of the new opera last night was emphatic.
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