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From The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury, Saturday, November 13, 1880.


A large audience assembled at the Opera House on Monday evening, on the occasion of the first production in Leicester of the new melo-dramatic opera entitled "The Pirates of Penzance." All those who are in any way interested in musical events, or in the introduction of new works for the stage, are aware that this opera is by the authors of "H.M.S. Pinafore," Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan; and they also know that the success it has achieved has quite equalled that gained by the comical nautical musical drama, in which naval affairs are so cleverly hit off.

Of course the two operas are entirely distinct as far as the plots are concerned, but at the same time the construction of "The Pirates of Penzance " reminds us now and again of the composers' earlier work. This remark will apply to the libretto as well as to the musical composition. The idea given by the "hardly ever" incident in the "Pinafore," is introduced in the "Pirates" by the remark made in the last act that the privateers are all gentlemen, or "nearly all," and the circumstances surrounding the policemen's chorus also call to recollection some of the concerted pieces for the sailors in the opera which has had such a great run both in England and across the Atlantic, and the " Conspirators' Chorus" in "Madame Angot's Daughter." There has been no plagiarism on the part either of Mr. Gilbert or Mr. Sullivan, it is true, but the impression given in these particulars is somewhat similar in all three works.

In the "Pirates of Penzance," the dialogue is as smart as in the "Pinafore," while the music, if possible, is much better. Catching as are many of the airs and choruses in the "Pinafore," they do not possess the body of tone to be found in Sullivan's later effort. The scoring in the newer work is decidedly original throughout, the effects produced are frequently very fine, and some of the airs and duets are charming. The duet for Frederic, the pirate apprentice, and Mabel, General Stanley's daughter, is an exquisite number, and must become a great favourite. The choruses are easy; but there is a dash and a tunefulness about them which will make them very popular, while the orchestration is always pretty, fresh, graceful, and interesting. "The Pirates of Penzance" will certainly roam about as long as "H. M. S. Pinafore" sails on the sea of popular approval.

Of the performance of the opera, by Mr. D'Oyly Carte's company, we have little to say except in praise, for there is not an indifferent artiste in the troupe. The part of Major General Stanley is capitally represented by Mr. David Fisher, junr. On Monday evening his interpretation of the song in which he describes all his military capabilities as a Major-General was received with roars of applause, and his efforts in other respects were cordially appreciated. Mr. G. W. Marnock makes a good Pirate King. He possesses a big bass voice, and although now and then he sings out of tune, he fits the character admirably. Mr. Hemsley scores a success as Samuel, the lieutenant, and Mr. G. Coventry gives a very creditable representation of Frederic, singing with commendable taste and judgment. Miss Laura Clement's delineation of Mabel is thoroughly effective. She is a good actress, and her rendering of the music allotted to her is well-nigh faultless. The services of Misses Clara Merivale (Edith), Lucy Millais (Kate), Agnes Mitchell (Isabel), and Augusta Roche (Ruth, a pirate maid-of-all-work) also deserve recognition, and Mr. Marler, as the sergeant of police, makes us believe that he knows a thing or two.

The chorus is well balanced, and contains some capital voices of all parts, the result being most satisfactory. The unaccompanied chorus was one of the finest parts of Monday evening's performance. As far as the band is concerned, little is wanting. In spite of a little unsteadiness, which was excusable, and the occasional undue prominence of a brass instrument, they got through their work on Monday night very well indeed, thanks in no small measure to the precision with which Mr. F. Stanislaus conducted. The stage appointments and dresses are all that could be desired. In all respects the entertainment provided at the Opera House this week in the "Pirates of Penzance" is such as may be thoroughly enjoyed by anybody.

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