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"A" ('Princess Ida' No. 2) Company in Derby

The Derby Mercury (Derby, England), Wednesday, June 11, 1884; Issue 8839.


Mr. D'Oyly Carte and Mr. Frederic Brown of Lichfield are to be thanked for the very pleasant performances of "Princess Ida" which were given in Derby on Friday and Saturday last. For the first time in connection with Gilbert-and-Sullivan opera in Derby, the accompaniments were rendered by a small but competent band, conducted by Mr. Ralph Horner, and led by Mr. J. E. Hilton. It was impossible, of course, that full justice should be done to Sir Arthur Sullivan's elaborate and delicate orchestration; but, considering the size of the hall, the number of instruments was not inadequate, and assuredly the effect was infinitely better than that of which the "grand piano" used to be found capable. The reformation was altogether a welcome one, and one in which we hope Mr. Carte will be encouraged to persevere.

The company provided by him was, as usual, of considerable all-round excellence. To be sure, Mr. David James, jun., who has but a small singing voice, supplied a representation of King Gama which hardly sufficiently conveyed the idea of the old man's humorous subtlety. Mr. Charles Goold, too, though he looked and acted well the part of King Hildebrand, was not quite strong enough for it vocally; and Mr. Cecil Burt, though a tolerable actor, was scarcely equal at all times to the vocal demands made upon the representative of Hilarion. On the other hand, Mr. Frank Boyle proved himself an exceptionally good Cyril, both vocally and histrionically, his pseudo-Elizabethan song in the second act being very cleverly given, and his acting throughout being careful and well-considered. Mr. Eustace Thompson did much to secure success for the trios in which the three sons of Gama engage; and the three gentlemen first named, though not flawless, contributed a good deal to the excellence of the general effect. The delightful numbers assigned to the Prince and his companions "went" à merveille, and were, on Saturday evening, both encored, Mr. Hugh Seton, the Florian, assisting materially to obtain that compliment.

Miss Florence Dysart was announced as the Princess; but on Friday it was apparent that she sang her first solo with difficulty — she had evidently a severe cold — and throughout the remainder of the second act the music of the part was sung, from the "wings" and, when necessary, on the stage, by Miss Marie Wynter, the Lady Psyche — Miss Dysart going through the role in dumb show. At the end of the second act, Mr. Benbrook, the acting manager for Mr. D'Oyly Carte, came before the curtain and announced that, in consequence of the indisposition of Miss Dysart, Miss Wynter would take her place in the third act. This was accordingly done; and on Saturday, Miss Dysart being still unable to sing, the afternoon performance did not take place, whilst, in the evening Miss Wynter again officiated in her stead. Miss Dysart looked the part of the Princess most successfully, and her ability to sing it was made manifest even in her solitary vocal effort. All praise, however, is due to Miss Wynter for her exertions both on Friday and Saturday. She has an agreeable, well-trained soprano, and her method is correct and commendable. She acts prettily, and was encored on Friday in "The Ape and the Lady." On Saturday Miss Shirley was the Lady Psyche, and she, too, had to repeat the last named ditty. She is a young lady of much promise. Miss Ada Doree was the Lady Blanche, and on Saturday had to repeat "Come Mighty Must" — a clever melody, usually omitted in the country. She thoroughly realises the character she undertakes, and her share in the dialogue was excellently done. Miss Kate Forster was the Melissa, and she did much to bring about, each evening, the encore which was given to he charmingly quaint duet between Melissa and the Lady Blanche. Her pure contralto was heard to much advantage in the solo at the beginning of the third act, and her acting in every instance was marked by much archness and vivacity.

The chorus was thoroughly acceptable. The dresses were rich and tasteful, the scenery was excellently arranged, and we have already spoken of the accompaniments. The audience on the Friday was overflowing; that on Saturday was not so large as it ought to have been, considering the attractions offered. However, the fine weather and the time of year must be taken into consideration, and, these allowances made, the performances of the opera may be described as thoroughly successful, reflecting great credit on all concerned.

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