|Patience > No. 1 Company in Aberdeen
From Aberdeen Weekly Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland), Tuesday, September 12, 1882; Issue 8605.
The advent of the "Patience" Opera in Aberdeen last evening was heralded by one of the finest "houses" which ever assembled within Her Majesty's Theatre. Every part was crowded, the audience being widely representative of all classes of the community, eager to hear and to see this, the latest popular contribution from the pens of the two best known and appreciated modern operatic authors — Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan.
Although "Patience" has not previously been performed in Aberdeen, such has been the interest manifested by the general public in it that the plot — if plot it might be called — has become so familiar that a recapitulation of it at the present moment would be a work of supererogation. It is called an "æsthetic" opera, and broadly taken, it is a remarkably clever, if rather strongly put, "skit" upon the "quite too utterly utter" æstheticism born of late in fashionable metropolitan circles, but happily almost unknown in regions so far north as Aberdeen. Although severely hit off — so severely, indeed, as to appear to most minds ludicrous — there is invariably method and "chic" in the burlesque which is presented. Its main element, of course, is to produce laughter, and so acute is the innuendo in almost every instance that not a point is lost upon the audience.
To compare the opera with any of the other productions of the joint authors would be a matter of considerable labour, and altogether useless. There are passages in the score of "Patience" which suggest familiarity and present somewhat of the style which is recognisable in "Pinafore," the "Sorcerer", and others which might be called sister contributions, to which it would be needless to allude; but the tout ensemble of the opera is novel, fresh, and very entertaining. It is by no means deficient in "caching" airs, a fact which has already been sufficiently well attested. Several of the solos, as well as the choruses, may be described in the characteristic language of the æsthetes themselves as simply "rapturous," and their effect upon the audience last evening was most marked and unmistakeable.
The mounting of the piece is as near as possible faultless, the company act in the nicest of unison, and the stage management is never at fault. The dresses present all the elements of æstheticism, skilfully and curiously handled; while in the matter of general arrangement nothing is more admirable than, taken by itself, is the wardrobe department. The "intensely" costumed ladies may be said to have presented at least a fairly striking model of the "Inner Sisterhood" which sketches in the pages of Punch have rendered familiar. There were the same loose robes, adorned with fantastic floral devices, puffed at the sleeves, the same angular knees and generally exaggerated poses, which, while they may have been æsthetic according to the generally accepted meaning of the term, certainly did not always come up to the beau ideal of grace and refinement.
With respect to the cast, it would be invidious to particularise all the members of the company, each of whom has been assigned his or her part as the result of careful and judicious selection, and musical and dramatic elements are alike adequately represented. The strength of the company, as of all the companies organised by Mr. D'Oyly Carte, apparently depends more upon its selection than brilliancy in one or two characters. Unity is strength, and Mr. D'Oyly Carte appears to recognise the truth and force of the adage. There is not a hitch in the performance from beginning to end. The characters, one and all, understand and ably represent their parts, and are supported in a most complete manner by the surroundings. The choruses of the 20 "rapturous maidens," who declare that they are "love-sick against their will, and that twenty years hence they will be love-sick maidens still," and of the less romantic and more matter-of-fact dragoons form a strong and delightful background to the pictures presented in the opera.
At an early stage the fleshly poet, Reginald Bunthorne to wit, impersonated by Mr. George Thorne, comes upon the scene, clad in a suit of tightly-fitting amber velvet, attended by the æsthetic damsels. The admiring chorus of the damsels, the indignant chorus of the dragoons deprived of their sweethearts, and the aside confessions of the poet are very cleverly intermingled. One of the finest things in the opera is the duet between the Idyllic poet Archibald Grosvenor (Mr. Walter Greyling) and the fleshly poet, which, with its charming refrain. "Hey Willow Waly O," secured for it a most enthusiastic encore.* The patter song, in which the fleshly one puts himself up to raffle, was much appreciated, as was also the charming sextet which immediately followed, and which is one of the finest specimens of Mr. Sullivan's part writing.The first act closes (there are but two acts) with a broad burlesque of an Italian operatic finale, strongly parodying a scene in "'Lucia di Lammermoor."
The gems of the second act comprehend the opening recitative and ballad sung by the somewhat elderly but æsthetic and "massive" Lady Jane; the idyllic poet's nursery rhyme skit, or parody, of "Gentle Jane," and "Teasing Tom;" and the very beautiful song of the fable of the magnet which tried to attract the silver churn; Patience's ballad of love in the truly Sullivanian strain, and the duet between Bunthorne and Jane, in which the fleshly resolves to combat the idyllic one, the latter tit-bit being favoured with a double encore. The scene in which the idyllic poet agrees to become practical on the threat that his fleshly brother will curse him is one of the most amusing in the opera. Grosvenor swears to uphold his practical character by becoming —
The fleshly poet continues as before in his aesthetic character —
This duet scored an immense success. The aesthetic ladies ultimately all become practical, the practical poet marries the dairymaid Patience, the dragoons pair off with the others, and as the curtain falls the æsthetic Bunthorne, having been "crushed again" a score of times, is left standing alone.
Mr W. P. Halton conducted the opera in a manner which reflected most creditably upon his musical ability and taste. His instrument was the harmonium, and with it he very cleverly gave cues and harmonium catches, which must have greatly supported the soloists as well as the orchestra, whose performance of the piece was very gratifying considering the short time they must have had for rehearsal.
The principal female character, of course, is the title role and Miss Pierson as "Patience" sustained her part with singular aptitude. Her voice is tuneful, and in every way suited to the demands made upon it, while her acting is most appropriate throughout. Mr. George Thorne needs no introduction to an Aberdeen audience. Although not musically a strong member of the company, plays the character of Bunthorne to the entire satisfaction and great pleasure of the audience; his make-up and acting being specially commendable. Mr. Walter Greyling was most successful as the Idyllic poet, being possessed of a clear, mellow tenor voice, which he used to the best advantage. Miss Elsie Cameron as the Lady Jane is also deserving of commendation, as are the rapturous maidens, Miss Laura Walsh, Miss Clara Deveine, and Miss Rita Presano. The officers of the Dragoons, Messrs. G. Byron Browne and James Sidney, were most effective in the musical line; while the comic business of the Major was ably interpreted by Mr. Albert James.
* This duet is, of couse, not sung by the two poets, but by Patience and Grosvenor.
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