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OPÉRA COMIQUE

The cruise of few ships on and off the stage has been more eventful than that of H.M.S. Pinafore. Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan’s popular opera counts its performances by thousands. At the Opéra Comique, its original home, it has been given 508 times up till to-day. Not to speak of other theatres in London and the provinces, it has also appeared in the graver arena of a court of law. In America it has been all the rage for many months. It has been given at three or four theatres in the same city simultaneously, and even church choirs have not disdained to indulge in its gay melodies instead of the solemn chants of the familiar hymn-book. On one occasion Sir Joseph Porter, with his sisters and his cousins and his aunts – not to speak of Captain Corcoran and his merry crew – appeared in a real ship on a real lake, an enormous audience watching their performances from the shore.

To all the honours at home and abroad a new one was added yesterday afternoon, when Pinafore was for the first time performed by children, under the direction of Mr. R. Barker. As a rule, the appearance of children on the stage is accompanied by a more or less painful impression. It suggests an exertion of physical and mental faculties wholly unsuited to the youthful frame. But no such unpleasant idea is connected with the rendering of the popular play at the Opéra Comique. The children employed in it evidently comprehended and enjoyed the harmless fun of the piece, and their genial humour yesterday proved contagious to the audience, in which, also, the youthful element was conspicuous.

It would be invidious to apply detailed criticism to a cast every member of which was evidently intent upon doing his or her best. But it may be said that Miss Effie Mason, the very young lady who performed Little Buttercup, entered into her part with a humour and intelligence not very common among more experienced artists. Dick Deadeye (Master William Philips) also was a most effective villain, and Master Edward Pickering fully realized the prodigious dignity of a First Lord of the Admiralty. Master Harry Eversfield (Ralph Rackstraw) and Miss Emilie Gratton (Josephine) were a pair of lovers as graceful and sweet-voiced as can well be imagined, and Master Augustus Fitzclarence, the extremely diminutive “Midshipmite,” added greatly to the general humour of the scene.

A well-trained chorus completed a performance, which, to judge by yesterday’s success, promises to be foremost among the enjoyments of the Christmas holidays.


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