|Patience > First Night Review from The Graphic
The Graphic. (London, England). Saturday, April 30, 1881; Issue 596.
OPERA COMIQUE — Patience, or Bunthorne's Bride produced on Monday night, before a densely crowded audience, was a success about the genuine nature of which there can hardly can be two opinions. Often as Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan have wrought together they have seldom done so with happier effect. Words and music fit each other so thoroughly that they might be almost accepted as the emanation from one brain, and that brain taking a view of things quite independent of the ordinary cast of thought. When Mr. Gilbert writes verse or dialogue that would seem altogether absurd but for the assumed gravity of the actors to whom they are confided, and Mr. Sullivan invents music which might be wedded to wholly different utterances, it should not be looked upon as a mistake on the part of the musician, who rather aids than impedes the object his literary confederate has in view; and that — as Corporal Nym would say — "is the humour of it."
After lengthy notices of Patience with which the public has been favoured by our daily contemporaries, it would be superfluous to describe the purport, much more so to unwind the plot, of this new proof of its joint authors unexampled fecundity in a peculiar direction. That it is a satire upon a tendency in certain social circles to counterfeit what can only be counterfeited by exaggeration in ridiculous proportions, under the cloak of an enthusiasm which by a stretch of the imagination alone can be regarded as genuine, need not be told. How Mr. Gilbert has again succeeded in embodying his idea by aid of the shadowy personages with which his fancy teems, but are no more real than the images which delirium paints upon darkness, may at once be guessed by those acquainted with The Sorcerer, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, &c. That, according to his generally adopted custom, he has performed his task without affording reasonable cause of offence to the most sensitive, is so much added to the credit of a burlesque inimitable in its way.
The sham "aesthetic", Reginald Bunthorne, and the idyllic poet, Archibald Grosvenor, presented with consummate address, the one by Mr. Grossmith, the other by Mr. Rutland Barrington, are as harmless types as could well be imagined, while the women, one and all, including the four principals, Ladies Angela, Saphir, Ella, and Jane (Misses Bond, Gwynne, Fortescue and Barnett), the last as imposing and masculine as her three companions are feminine and shy, form a bevy of mad-cap maidens as unobtrusive as they are inviting. The Dragoons, too — Colonel Calverly, Major Murgatroyd, and Lieut. Duke of Dunstable (Messrs. Temple, Thornton and Lely) — a sturdy set of warriors, whose affections are temporarily thwarted, now by the influence of the "fleshly" (why not robust?) poet, Bunthorne, now by that of the "idyllic" Grosvenor, but who, eventually, assuming the garb and gestures of the "aesthetes", so fascinate the aesthetically-given maidens that, though not quite reaching their ideal standard, as represented at the outset by Bunthorne, are unanimously proclaimed "too all but"— harmoniously chime in with the rest; and so does the pretty milk-maid, Patience, who while not destined to be "Bunthorne's Bride", becomes eventually the bride of Grosvenor, his more acceptable competitor. In Patience, charmingly portrayed by Miss Leonora Braham, we have a real touch of nature, which gives light and life to the whole.
Mr. Sullivan's music is too sterlingly good to be dismissed with a bare recognition of its worth; but space compels us to defer our notice until next week. The performance, directed by the composer himself, was admirable from beginning to end; and when, after the fall of the curtain, Messrs. Sullivan and Gilbert appeared, they both enthusiastically cheered.
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