|Patience > No. 1 Company in Belfast
The Belfast News-Letter (Belfast, Ireland), Tuesday, September 11, 1883; Issue 21265.
THE performance of "Patience" by Mr. D'Oyly Carte's company at the theatre last evening was unquestionably the best we have ever had in this town. Indeed, it is well known that all of the companies which are associated with the same management improve annually; though, unhappily, so much cannot be said respecting other companies that visit us from time to time. Mr. Carte's principle is, however, decidedly the most rational to work upon: as the public grow accustomed to any comic opera they grow proportionately exacting regarding its production, so that though a company may seem admirable when seen for the first time in a new and attractive work, yet upon its repetition the members will appear tame and even deficient. It is thus necessary, if the public are to continue interested in a comic opera, to do more than merely maintain the original level of excellence in the company selected for its representation.
The few changes in the "Patience" company certainly cause the interest of this charming work to be at any rate maintained, though the present is the third visit of the opera to this town. Miss Fanny Edwards, who was the original Lady Jane in the provincial cast, has now resumed her part – or perhaps we should say her middle-aged part. It would be impossible to praise too highly the manner in which this excellent artiste both acts and sings as the too faithful damozel. The quiet vein of humour, perceptible on her first appearance in the opera, is maintained to the close of every scene, the stolid earnestness of her pursuit of the over-weighted Bunthorne being suggestive of the principles of life formulated by one of Mr. Anthony Trollope's heroes in the phrase, "It's dogged as does it." The rich mezzo soprano of Miss Edwards was heard to greatest advantage in the well known ballad at the opening of the second act. Its quality is even more sympathetic than when Miss Edwards appeared in this town two years ago.
The part of Richard [sic] Grosvenor, taken last year by Mr. Arthur Rousbey, has now been entrusted to Mr. Walter Fisher, an extremely accomplished actor and an excellent vocalist – his representation of the part of Hector with the first "Madame Favart" company will still be favourably remembered in this town. His acting last night was all that could be desired; it was very humorous, particularly as regards the working out of the minor details. His recitation of the idyll of "Gentle Jane and Teasing Tom" was a capital bit of parody. Mr. Fisher did not, however, sing the music assigned to him so well as we expected. But it must be remembered that he has only [just] joined the company. In a few weeks, when he becomes thoroughly at home in the music, he will be, beyond doubt, the best representative of the part in the provinces.
Miss Ethel M'Alpine's voice has also improved both in quality and power since last year. Her singing of the waltz in the second act was full of tenderness, and her acting was, as before, humorous in its unconsciousness. The simplicity of this Dresden China dairymaid was capitally rendered. The rapturous maidens looked as graceful as ever in their clinging draperies – which, by the way, did not cling to figures universally attenuated – and sang charmingly.
With regard to the other characters in the piece not much remains to be said. Mr. Thorne and Mr. Bunthorne are intimately associated in the minds of the theatre-goers of this town. In this part Mr. Thorne is inimitable. We should not care to see it represented by any other artist. The Colonel of Mr. Byron Browne was as consistent as ever; while the parts of the Duke and the Major were respectively taken with great advantage by Mr. Sydney and Mr. Halley. The piece was admirably mounted. Nothing, indeed, could be more satisfactory than the production of this most graceful of all the comic operas which owe their existence to Mr. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan.
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