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From The Glasgow Herald, Tuesday, August 3, 1880

THE ROYALTY – “H.M.S. PINAFORE.”

In December last Mr. D'Oyly Carte gave a private performance in London of the well known nautical opera, "H.M.S. Pinafore," the whole of the principal characters and chorus being sustained by children. This fortunate idea of imparting fresh life to Gilbert and Sullivan's marvellously popular bagatelle, after its 500th performance, was originated in the United States, where at one time last year there were at least three juvenile companies acting the clever play and singing the smart music to crowded and enthusiastic houses. When it was announced in London that the management had determined on giving such a novel performance, many staid playgoers feared the result of placing a number of little folks on the stage to perform an exciting opera comique. Luckily no such misgivings were realised, for the juvenile artists at the very first performance went through their work with evident pleasure to themselves, and were quite successful in imparting a feeling of keen enjoyment to a delighted audience. Thus encouraged, Mr. Carte kept the "Children's Pinafore" on the stage for many successive weeks, and he has been further induced to arrange for a lengthened provincial tour, the first performance of the series being given last night in Mr Knapp's Royalty Theatre. The opera is so familiar in all its details that it would be quite superfluous again to refer to its plot or music. It may be mentioned in passing, however, that as some parts of the music in its original form were unsuited for children's voices its re-arrangement was entrusted to Mr. Francois Cellier, who has faithfully and successfully carried out his delicate task.

Last night the large audience, which crowded more than one part of the theatre, fully endorsed the good opinion of the Metropolis as to the merits of the "children's performance." The cast was almost identical with that when the opera was given in London, the principal characters being the same. Of these Miss Effie Mason (Little Buttercup) and Master William Phillips (Dick Deadeye) unmistakably shared the honours of the evening. Miss Mason is precocious little thing, who artistically follows in the walk of her seniors, and who last night showed that by proper study and careful training she may prove a comedienne of no mean order. On making her entreé she received an unusually warm reception; while her singing of "Dear Little Buttercup" was uproariously encored. Throughout the evening everything she did was full of life, and consequently she gained the warm admiration of all present. Master William Phillips, as Dick Deadeye, made a most imposing miniature scoundrel, and in many situations proved that he had a clear notion of his unthankful part. Scarcely less successful were Master Edward Pickering (First Lord of the Admiralty), Master Harry Grattan (Captain), and the other principals concerned did ample justice to their various parts. At the end of the first act all honours were heaped on the performance, the finale was encored, and the chief executants were called amidst enthusiasm seldom witnessed in Glasgow.

The chorus proved one of the most attractive features of the performance. Its members showed a clear appreciation of their situation, which is seldom evinced in our provincial opera companies. Always ready in their attacks, they had learnt their parts so thoroughly that attention could easily be given to intelligent by-play. The orchestra proved the weak portion of the performance, and at times so many wrong notes were played and so many out of tune that one felt vexed for the earnest young artists on the stage. The conductor should see to this, and get his forces under proper subjection. The opera was well put on the stage, the various appointments being all that could be desired. The "Pinafore" is to be repeated every night this week, when the Royalty should see crowded houses.


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