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The Era (London, England), Saturday, March 1, 1884; Issue 2371.


NEW YORK, February 12. — The Princess Ida was produced last night at the Fifth-avenue Theatre, and opinion seems much divided as to its merits. The papers "damn it with faint praise" for the reason that it is supposed to have been written by Gilbert and Sullivan which is its redeeming feature, as, if it had had for its authors any other persons there is no question but that it would have been pronounced a flat failure.

The theatre was crowded, as the play had been thoroughly advertised, and many persons were anxious to see the latest work of the popular collaborators. There was a great deal of applause during the evening from the back of the house, which seems to mark the introduction of the French "claque," and a great many of the airs and ensemble pieces were redemanded. The scenery was very handsome, and many of the costumes decidedly gorgeous. The cast was not a particularly strong one, as Cora Tanner, who has lately left the dramatic for the operatic stage, acted well, but sang miserably, as the Princess; however, there was a large and efficient chorus and an admirable orchestra. The audience of last evening discovered that Princess Ida was built upon the same lines as the other operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, and this similarity caused such a disappointment that, perhaps, they could not properly appreciate its rare merits. The characters are arranged very much as in Patience, and many of the stage groupings vividly recall scenes from it. The opening of the first act, for instance, showing Castle Adamant, with a river at the back, and the girl undergraduates lying on the ground reading their books, caused an involuntary murmur of Patience. The music contains several bright and taking airs, and a few rattling choruses which bring up reminiscences of days gone by. The libretto was certainly a great disappointment to the audience, as it was by no means so humorous as had been confidently expected.

Mr. D'Oyly Carte went into the advertising business very extensively on Sunday morning in a long letter to the Herald, which that journal prominently displayed. Mr. Carte does not speak concerning the critics of your city in that subdued and soft manner so much commended in the Scriptures. He endeavours to give the opera a boost here by asserting that it is far superior to either Iolanthe or Patience, and pours out the vials of his wrath upon the devoted heads of the "pirates" who are endeavouring to steal his property. Some one has said "he who steals my purse steals trash," and Mr. Carte might truthfully apply the same expression to his Princess. However, if he is in earnest about giving the "pirates" "war to the knife, and knife to the hilt,'' he can buckle on his armour, as it is currently reported and generally believed that a party in Baltimore has the opera in active rehearsal, whilst Manager Field produced it last night in Boston "to a large and enthusiastic audience." Princess Ida will probably hold the boards for some time, but instead of making a fortune for any one it will share the usual fate of Uncle John Stetson's ventures. Its success will be one of curiosity.

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