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"H.M.S. PINAFORE" AT THE ULSTER HALL.

From The Belfast News-Letter (Belfast, Ireland), Tuesday, November 8, 1881; Issue 20697.

LAST evening, at the Ulster Hall, there commenced what promises and deserves to be a highly successful engagement. "H.M.S. Pinafore" was represented by Mr. D'Oyly Carte's splendid opera company, and, after a lapse of some twelve months, was enthusiastically welcomed. This favourite opera is now in its third representation here, and is looked upon as an old friend. It still retains its attractions in spite of the brilliancy of the more recent of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's productions. Indeed, out of a comparison with "Patience," or the "Pirates of Penzance," the nautical opera must come with flying colours.

It would be difficult to decide in which of the works the quiet humour that makes them so charming is most apparent. Whether the situation of the Slave of Duty in the "Pirates of Penzance," warning the pirate King that in half an hour he would exterminate the crew, or Patience exhibiting such intense unselfishness as to refuse the hand of her Reginald so long as be remained in the least degree interesting to the rapturous maidens, is more ludicrous than the idea conveyed by Josephine of the First Lord of the Admiralty teaching her father to dance a hornpipe on the cabin table could scarcely be determined. The same humour pervades the entire of the three plays, but in "Pinafore," perhaps, it is more incongruous, more understood, and less expressed than in the other two operas. "Pinafore," too, has the charm especially of being appreciated by all classes equally, and of presenting a wonderfully attractive picture of what can easily be considered compatible in nautical life.

The company last evening was selected with the care usually displayed by Mr. D'Oyly Carte, and was the strongest that has yet performed "Pinafore" in Belfast. The important part of Captain Corcoran was filled by Mr. F. Cook in a manner deserving of the highest praise. In appearance and manner Mr. Cook admirably suited the character, and his cultured baritone made the various items in which he took part highly enjoyable. From the conclusion of his opening song to the drop of the curtain his singing was warmly applauded, and in many instances encored. The pretty serenade, "Fair moon, to thee I sing," was given with delightful tenderness and purity of tone; and the famous "Merry Maiden" duet between the captain and Dick Deadeye had to be twice repeated before the demands of the audience were satisfied.

In the triangular seaman Mr. Fred Billington was recognised as an old favourite, while Messrs. Lackner and C. M. Blythe filled their original parts of the boatswain's mate and carpenter's mate respectively in their inimitable style. "The British Tar," a trio between the two latter and Ralph Rackstraw, was highly effective, but in the choruses with the female voices the voice of the latter scarcely blended perfectly. The part, however, was taken for the evening by Mr. Le Hay, who was cast as Sir Joseph Porter, owing to the indisposition of Mr. Leumane. All the necessary dignity of demeanour in Sir Joseph was capitally maintained by the study of the part.

No better choice could have been made than of Miss Marion Grahame as Josephine. Her voice is one susceptible of treating with the required sympathy the music assigned to the part. Miss Bessie Armytage as Little Buttercup deserves more than a word of praise. The finest balance was observable in the chorus, and the different effects were well brought out.

"Pinafore" will be presented this and to-morrow evenings, and on the three following evenings "The Sorcerer" will be produced. The opera will be preceded by Mr. Alfred Cellier's musical burletta, "In the Sulks."


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