|Pirates of Penzance > Reviews > No. 1 'Pirates' Company in Dundee
From The Dundee Courier & Argus (Dundee, Scotland), Monday, May 8, 1882; Issue 8988.
At the Theatre Royal this evening Dundonians are to be introduced to one of Messrs. Gilbert & Sullivan's latest and finest creations, Although the "Pirates of Penzance" did not create such a furore as "Pinafore" did when first produced, many critics give it the preference in point of real merit; and had it preceded that inimitable satire on our navy it is not at all impossible it would have gained an equally wide popularity. As it is it ran for many hundred nights in London at the Opera Comique, and wherever it has been performed it has created the greatest enthusiasm. Both in music and dialogue there is a striking resemblance. There is any amount of puns, and funny songs, and happy hits, which follow each other in so quick succession, that the risibility of the audience is never allowed to flag. The music is pregnant with true Sullivan melody, and many of the songs are catching and abiding. Among these may be named the song and chorus, "I am a Pirate King" and the beautiful soprano solo, "Poor Wandering One." The opening pirates' chorus and the chorus of police are also engaging numbers. The company which Mr. D'Oyly Carte has brought with him, we understand, is a good one. We notice several old names on the list, as Mr. Traverner and Mr. Hemsley, and we doubt not the Theatre will be crowded during the six nights on which the piece is to be run.
From The Dundee Courier & Argus and Northern Warder (Dundee, Scotland), Tuesday, May 9, 1882; Issue 8989.
Last evening commenced a six nights' engagement of Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "Pirates of Penzance" Opera Company. Of the recent novelties which Mr. McFarland has introduced to us, this is at once one of the most important and most satisfactory. The work is essentially both written and composed in Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's best mood, and consequently is pleasing to the ear, inoffensive to good taste, and ever laughter provoking. These gentlemen seem to have a thoroughly profound sense of humour, and it is really wonderful how much comicality and fun they get out of a simple situation, movement of the body, catch phrase, or musical strain. All conspire towards the same inevitable end.
As already pointed out in our yesterday's notice, the opera, both as to libretto and music, has a strong likeness to "Pinafore," and, we might add, that it has many points in common with "Sorcerer." The patter song of "John Wellington Wells," for instance, is immediately suggested by the Major-General's song, "I am the very pattern," &c. Such instances of resemblances occur throughout the work, and when we consider the strong individuality of the authors, we cannot be the least surprised. The fact is more pleasing than otherwise, as one has just the feeling of meeting old friends in new garbs, and such friends!
The company which Mr. Carte has sent round is all round one of the best he has sent this way. The chorus is exceptionally good, particularly in the ladies' voices. The soprano is bright and full, and has the merit — alas! so often absent — of singing in tune. The male voices are also of fair quality, and barring want of weight in the lower notes, form a good base for the concerted pieces.
The leading characters are each and all admirably sustained. Miss Lee's "Mabel" is a competent performance, whether as to action, voice, or conception. Her movements are graceful, and, so far as is necessary in comic opera, her demeanour as the daughter of the Major is lady-like and natural. Her voice is very flexible, and of pure soprano quality, as her rendering of the beautiful, though exacting air, "Poor Wandering One," amply demonstrated. She should, however, keep the tremolo stop off as often as possible. "Ruth" had a good representative in Miss Aynsley Cook, her fine contralto appearing to best advantage in her opening solo. The minor parts of "Kate," "Edith," and "Isabel" were also all intelligently sustained.
The "Pirate King" of Mr. Marnock was in many respects a telling delineation, in others not quite up to the mark. He looked the part to perfection, and, with the exception of a proneness to that most objectionable and absurd tremolo, his vocal efforts were generally satisfactory, though he certainly did not make the most of his principal song, "I am a Pirate King." This is one of the most catchy numbers in the opera, and had it been done with proper gusto would have been certain to receive an encore. He is also a little to stagey in his acting. Mr. Travener gave a good account of the part of Frederic, musically speaking, but was a little stiff in his movements about the stage. Many of the numbers that fell to his lot, from the former point of view, however, were artistically rendered. His finest effort was in the duet with Mabel, in the second act, as indeed in this Miss Lee and he must be said to have made the musical effect of the evening.
The Major had a capital exponent in Mr. Fisher, jr. He is undoubtedly the actor of the company. True, he has a good part, but he is so thoroughly at home in it, and delivers his funniest remarks with so much gravity, that he "orphan" fairly convulses the house.
The police chorus is also very comic, as are also the choruses of girls, all of which were capitally sung. The band played well under the baton of Mr. Robinson, and the dresses and stage appointments are in keeping with the general excellence of the performance. The theatre should be crowded during the week, as all who like to hear a good opera by a good company will doubtless avail themselves of this opportunity.
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