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THEATRE ROYAL

From Manchester Times (Manchester, England), Saturday, April 1, 1882; Issue 1264.

"Patience, or Bunthorne's Bride," has put the patience of Manchester playgoers to a somewhat severe test. It is not the fault of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan, the authors, or of the company, or, perhaps, of the theatrical managers. Because circumstances have backs broad enough to bear most burdens, it may be fairest to say that circumstances in the shape of fixed engagements are to blame for delaying the appearance of "Patience" in Manchester until the whole country had seen it, and while we here had perforce to be content from time to time with very much less interesting entertainment.

As whimsical as the "Wedding March," as oddly involved as the "Pirates of Penzance", we might truly say that no pen less droll than Mr. Gilbert's own could satisfactorily give an account of the illustrated history which introduces to our knowledge Reginald Bunthorne, his rapturous admirers, the dragoons whom he cuts out, Archibald Grosvenor who cuts him out, and practical Patience, whose innocence and common sense are put in contrast with these strange types of a strange and passing craze.

The opera is a satire, and a clever one, on the once popular movement which, wholly reckless of Baumgarten, men saw fit to call æsthetic. Poetic license must be held responsible for the large liberties the playwright has taken with a propaganda which had a decidedly wholesome tendency, and a name which scholars would still like to regard as significant of the science of the beautiful, in combining caricatures of the author of the "Charmides " and of a less erotic school of poetry with a number of lay figures of, to use a word we doubt the application of, a pronounced "æsthetic" type. It is all very good fooling, however, as was Mr. Gilbert's earlier escapade in the "Wedding March," or Mr. F. C. Burnand's "The Colonel," which was animated by a precisely similar sentiment of derision of the extravagances which attend the development of a new art movement. You cannot help laughing at the oddities of these people, at their dresses and postures and speeches.

There is something irresistibly provocative of merriment in the scenes between Bunthorne and the "æsthical" ladies, between him and Patience, between the stalwart dragoons and all and sundry. When all these evidences of Mr. Gilbert's daring imagination and satiric power are wedded to and illustrated by Mr. Sullivan's delightful music, admiration of the literary and musical genius of the joint authors mingle with the spirit of fun, and leaves a pretty sense of satisfaction.

In all Mr. Sullivan's works the music is invariably tuneful, the fun of the most absurd situation is always seized by the composer, and though everyone feels that burlesque could not be happier nor melody more appropriate, the composer's subjects are so happy, and often so dignified, that adapted to other words they would be admired as serious songs. This is notably apparent in much of the music of "Patience," and its likeness to that of the earlier operas is apparent in other respects. The patter songs are akin to those of "Pinafore" and "The Pirates;" and it is easy to understand that composer and poet were always mindful of the qualifications of leading singers who have become identified with the characters of their operas.

The company which presents "Patience" at the Theatre Royal this week is on the whole a good one, though falling far short of the excellence of Mr. D'Oyly Carte's original company in London; and it may be that it seems to be less effective than it really deserves to be ranked, because, owing to the lapse of time, the music and the situations are thoroughly familiar to the musician and the reader.


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