|The Sorcerer > Reviews > Review of the 1878 Touring Company in Dublin
Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (Dublin, Ireland),
Although naughtiness and nastiness have lately had more than their due of public favour, and although Mr. Arthur Sullivan's comic opera, The Sorcerer, which was produced for the first time before a brimming house last night, has no spice of either the one or the other to recommend it, we believe it will have along and prosperous life at the Gaiety. There are portions of it too good, and portions of it too lachrymose for a comic opera. We do not think it will raise Mr. Sullivan's reputation for music, nor Mr. Gilbert's reputation for wit. Whoever compared it with Trial by Jury to its credit had courage; for it has hardly a shadow of the bright, natural, compact, rollicking spontaneity of humour that makes that immortal little bit of buffoonery one unbroken laughing chorus.
For all that, The Sorcerer is sprinkled with the tender little snatches of melody which come as naturally from Mr. Sullivan's pen as the morning carol from the throat of the lark; it is fortified with gay and rattling choruses; its grotesque side, although it is sometimes successfully disguised, is at other times supremely laughable; and it is sung and acted considerably better than it is written.
The idea of the opera is that of a moonstruck military lover, who, in a moment of enthusiasm for equality in love, has recourse to a sorcerer, who administers his patent love potion far and wide among the villagers and of course plunges them head and ears in love with the wrong people — the old marquis with the venerable pew-opener, the stately Lady Sangazure with the patent philtre man, and, finally, the military enthusiast's own young betrothed with the absurd old vicar. The incidents thus produced could not be quite new, but might easily have been more comical. A character for dullness would, in fact, inevitably attach to the business were it not for the outrageous humours of Mr. Wells (Mr. J. H. Ryley), the smart young Cockney sorcerer, whose burlesque of the weird incantations of the melodrama was one of the most laughable things an audience ever roared over.
Mr. Ryley's singing is not his strong point, but very little vocal power would suffice to install his droll charter-song, "I am John Wellington Wells," in the popularity so long and worthily enjoyed by the late "Mo-ri-ar-i-ty." The delightfully funny duet between him and the love-lorn Lady Sangazure (Miss R. Brandram) was, on both their parts, one of the best bits of burlesque in the opera, although its music sounded strangely familiar in our ears. Nothing could have been better in its way than the parody of the ceremonious absurdity of the Louis Quatorze school of politeness in the love passages between this grande dame and the pompous Sir Marmaduke (Mr. Arthur Rousbey), who acted his part in word and deed quite faultlessly. Mr. Furneaux Cook also made a respectable vicar; and the other part: were capably if not remarkably filled.
The chorus was a strong one, the band proved a famous auxiliary; and, if we can only call to mind one sentence of genuine wit in the dialogue, everyone will remember twenty passages of unmistakable beauty in the music.
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