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"D" ('Princess Ida' No. 1) Company in Edinburgh
The Era (London, England), Saturday, September 20, 1884; Issue 2400
PRINCESS'S THEATRE. – Lessee, Mr. A. D. M'Neill; Acting-Manager, Mr. W. M'Neill, jun. – After an extended tour, which has already included nearly evey town of importance in the kingdom, Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Princess Ida has at last reached Edinburgh. After the destruction of the Royal, where the visit had been originally booked, those of the public here who are accustomed to swear by Mr. D'Oyly Carte and his companies suffered untold pangs of disappointment, but much satisfaction was felt when it was afterwards known that Mr. M'Neill would take up the date.
Princess Ida while lacking a large measure of the originality and go which still keep previous works of the series in nightly representation on the provincial stage, contains some of the best and brightest things the authors have yet done, and in dialogue and music alike there is much to give pleasure, much to admire. The theatre was packed on Monday evening in every corner, and the performance received with enormous enthusiasm by a thoroughly representative audience.
The nature of the cast demands a company of unususal strength and ability, and Mr. Carte again presents an almost unrivalled assemblage of artists. The most striking performance of the evening was unquestionably the King Gama of Mr. David Fisher, jun., who in the palmy days of stock companies was a prodigious favourite at the Royal. He has done much excellent work for Mr. Carte of late, and on this occasion is admirably fitted, his performance being clever in the extreme. Mr. Fisher gave the pungent lines of his part due comic emphasis and sang the two quaint songs assigned to the king with appropriate humour and praiseworthy distinctness of enunciation.
Mr. Fred. Billington achieved a pronounced success as King Hildebrand, his acting and singing being excellent, and Mr. Courtice Pounds made a very favourable impression as Hilarion. Mr. Charles Rowan was eminently successful as Cyril, and Mr. F. Federici capital as Florain, while the men-at-arms were played with the greatest possible effect by Messrs. C. Prescott, A. Hendon, and L. Roche.
Among the ladies Miss Esme Lee carried of high honours, her tender and sympathetic embodiment of Princess Ida seeming more in harmony with the poetic creation of the Laureate than with Mr. Gilbert's perversion of it. Miss Lee, who looked singularly beautiful in her flowing robes of white and gold, has never before revealed so much artistic power in any operatic impersonation, while her singing delighted all who heard it. Her fine rendering of the invocation to Minerva was a splendid exhibition of vocal ability. To enable Miss Lee to take a long-deferred holiday the part of the Princess was played on Wednesday evening by Miss Josephine Findlay, a clever young artist who has already won creditable distinction in the character with another of Mr. Carte's companies.
Lady Blanche was sustained by Miss Fanny Edwards with all her well-known dramatic skill and vocal power, and with a judicious combination of these forces, mixed with no small measure of delicately conceived humour, she brought the character into rare importance, especially in the second act. Miss Edwards threw marvellous expression into the delivery of her music, and declaimed the "Come, Mighty Must" solo with telling effect, while her share of the "Sing hoity-toity" duet was equally brilliant and successful.
Miss Evelyn Carstairs, who temporarily fills the character of Lady Psyche, played cleverly; and Miss Beatrix Young made a pleasing Melissa. The remaining characters were satisfactorily filled by Misses Lena Monmouth, Christine Wilson, and Louie Henri.
Mr. M'Neill made every possible preparation for adequate representation of the opera, the new and elaborate scenery, by Mr. G. S. Evans and assistants, being strikingly picturesque and effective. The dresses and appointments surpass in magnificence anything ever seen here. A powerful chorus did full justice to the concerted music, of which the opera contains several clever examples; and the band, under the leadership of Mr. P. W. Halton, gave a tolerably satisfactory account of the overture and accompaniments. Mr. C. Reed looks after the stage-management; and Mr. R. Redford fills the arduous post of acting-manager with much ability.
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