|Patience > No. 1 Company in Bristol
From The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post (Bristol, England), Tuesday, June 20, 1882; Issue 10639.
No one can charge the Messrs. Chute with any failure in their efforts to provide variety for their patrons. After supplying them with quite a feast of the spectacular and horribly sensational, they provided a very liberal dish of farcical comedy, and, now once more changing the course, they are offering a dessert of opera bouffe, not the opera bouffe of the French stage, but the equally laughable and sparkling, and quite as tuneful, works of our national comic writers, Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan. Last night "Patience," which has scored such a marvellous success at Mr. D'Oyly Carte's London house, and which when presented here last winter drew and delighted large audiences, was performed for the first of six nights on a return visit.
The experience of the piece which Bristol playgoers derived on the last occasion lightens the labour of the critic, so that very little be needed in the way of description. The opera, as the reader will have learnt from the announce bills, is an æsthetic one, and aims at satirising one of the latest and most widely-spread of modern fashionable crazes. It is not intended, as we stated when it was first performed here, to cast any ridicule on genuine æstheticism; on that "science of the beautiful," with all its allied conceptions, for which it has been truthfully claimed that it determines the nature and the laws of beauty, and helps us to distinguish between that which is really beautiful and that which is ugly, between the sublime and the repulsive, or ridiculous. Against the æsthetic science which helps to refine and elevate art, no shaft of the satirist is aimed. That which it is sought to ridicule is the spurious compound of affectation and morbid sensuousness, by the aid of which so many hundreds, who, if challenged, would be unable to specify even the meaning of the designation, have been scrambling for a little social notoriety. In satirising that sickly conceit, Mr. Gilbert has been most pungent, whilst Mr. Sullivan has so gilded the pill by the light, airy, and melodious music with which he has surrounded it, that even those whose follies are caricatured can witness the opera with delight.
It was admirably played last night. With the exception of the title rôle, all the principal parts are filled by the artistes who appeared in them in 1881, and we need hardly say that a twelvemonth's added rehearsals have tended not a little to improve their acting in them, Patience, which on the former occasion was acted by Miss Ethel McAlpine, is now impersonated by Miss Ethel Pierson, who will be remembered as having won much popularity in the rôle of Joesphine upon the second visit to Bristol of "H.M.S. Pinafore." Happily the change brings with it no cause for regret. Miss Pierson did the fullest justice to the music, winning encores in all the principal passages, and she acts with charming grace and piquancy.
Miss Fancy Edwards's Lady Jane was quite up to its whilere standard, and she had to repeat the beautiful aria in the second act, "Silvered is the raven hair," and others of the most salient numbers.
Anything more quaintly humorous or replete with character than Mr. George Thorne's Reginald Bunthorne, the "fleshly poet," could hardly be conceived. In make up, by-play, and facial expression it was perfect. He also had to yield to several encores, as likewise had Mr. Arthur Rousbey, who filled the role of Archibald Grosvenor, the Idyllic poet. He looked and acted the part perfectly, and did the fullest justice to the vocalisation. Mr. G. Byron Browne repeated his fine performance of Colonel Calverley, and had to submit to two or three encores.
The parts of the Ladies Angela, Saphir, and Ella were most satisfactorily rendered by Miss Elsie Cameron, Miss Clara Deveine, and Miss Rita Presano; and Mr. Albert James and Mr. James Sydney, as the Major and the Duke of Dunstable left nothing to desire.
The charmingly bright and tuneful concerted music in which the opera abounds was faultlessly rendered, and Mr. Sullivan's orchestral music was most effectively rendered by an augmented band. The scenery and mounting are quite up to the performance, and the representation is altogether a very perfect one.
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