| The Sorcerer > Reviews > Review of the 1877 Production
Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, November 25, 1877; Issue 1827.
After a pompous proclamation — in which the regeneration of British musical art is assumed to date from the production of that amusing trifle, Trial by Jury — the "Comedy Opera Company" reopened this elegant theatre on Saturday night. The attraction which drew an overflowing audience was an original modern comic opera, The Sorcerer, written by W. S. Gilbert, composed by Arthur Sullivan. This proved to be a very amusing work, which may be regarded as a caricature upon serious opera, rather than as a production which conforms to any accepted ideas of comic opera.
There is nothing novel in the notion of a love philtre which causes the wrong people to love each other, but, by laying the scene in the present day, and carrying out his plot amid familiar surroundings, Mr. Gilbert has given it an entirely fresh aspect. In the opening we witness the betrothal of Alexis, the military son of Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre, Bart., to Aline, daughter of Lady Sangazure, whose family is "seven thousand and thirty-seventh in direct descent from Helen of Troy." Alexis, believing that "men and women should be coupled in matrimony without distinction of rank, calls in the aid of a family sorcerer who advertises an infallible philtre. After a most diverting burlesque incantation, the potion is prepared, and being served out to the wedding guests in their tea soon exercises a wonderful effect. Old and young, grave and gay, rich and poor, are seen making love in most extravagant fashion, and the fun only ends when the "family sorcerer" is got rid of.
A baronet, a Grenadier guardsman, a vicar, a notary, and a pew-opener figure in the piece, besides the lady and her daughter and the peasantry, the men being conspicuous for their new smock frocks and ample beards.
Mr. Sullivan's music may not be characterised by any great originality, but the orchestration is clever, and author and composer have worked hand in hand to secure a carefully-finished work, perfect down to the minutest details of representation.
A special company was gathered together, and of the artists Miss Alice May and Mr. George Grossmith, jun., achieved the chief success. The lady's first aria, "Oh, happy young heart," was spiritedly sung and gained a hearty encore; while Mr. Grossmith's incantation song of eighty lines met with such favour that the whole of it was repeated, the patter verses being given with wonderful clearness and effect. Clerical peculiarities of voice and manner were cleverly imitated by Mr. Barrington, and Mr. Temple was good as Sir Marmaduke. An apology was made for the Alexis (Mr. Bentham), who was suffering from illness. There were some good points in the Lady Sangazure of Mrs. Howard Paul, and Miss Warwick and Miss Everard efficiently filled two small parts.
All the actors crossed the stage, and author and composer were also called before the curtain. If the present work is to be compared with Trial by Jury, it must be rated second, since a plot of this slight, fanciful, and fantastic character is better in one act than two.
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