|The Sorcerer > Reviews > Review of the 1878 Touring Company in Manchester
Manchester Times (Manchester, England), Saturday, June 1, 1878; Issue 1068.
Coincidently with the withdrawal from the boards of the Opera Comique to make room for “H.M.S. Pinafore" – another work by the same authors – "The Sorcerer" is produced at the Prince's Theatre This delightful comic opera is the joint production of Mr. W. S. Gilbert and Mr. Arthur Sullivan, the one contributing the whimsical plot and libretto and the other the sparkling music, and never was the labour of playwright and composer wedded with more successful result.
The opera is based upon an ingenious fancy worked out in the form of a story by Mr. Gilbert in a Christmas number eighteen months ago, wherein the central incident was the employment of the elixir of love, and the comedy was supplied by the results that followed. Here the incident is the same, under altered conditions; and, simple as the idea may appear, it is the source from which Mr. Gilbert's prolific imagination obtains an infinite variety of most grotesque situations and an unceasing flow of drollery.
Without music the play would be found immensely entertaining; but when its attractions are heightened by the Lydian airs and jocund melodies of Mr. Sullivan it is made additionally delightful. The sweets, too, are none the less sweet because of the faint sub-acid flavour which one seems to perceive in the caricature now and again indulged in at the expense of the classical opera. We do not know whether the fun which is made of the love philtre is suggested by a desire to travesty Donizetti's “L’Elisir d'Amore;" but we cannot fail to recognise in many passages a burlesque of the operatic style and orthodox staginess generally.
The cast was an exceedingly good one, and all the drolleries and extravagances of the opera were brought out with excellent effect. Miss Douglas (sic) Gordon was Aline; Mr. George Bentham, Alexis; Mr. J. H. Ryley, vivacious and voluble in the rôle of the Sorcerer; Mr. Arthur Rousbey, Sir Marmaduke; and Miss R. Brandram Lady Sangazure; while Dr. Daly found an efficient representative, in acting as in vocal talent, in Mr. Furneaux Cook, and the parts of Mrs. Partlet and her daughter were sustained by Miss Coveney and Miss Theresa Cummings respectively.
We must also add that the sprightly parody of the forms of law employed in hearing cases of breach of promise, which Mr. Gilbert ironically entitles "Trial by Jury," has lost none of its charms by frequent repetition, and that it is being played by a strong company, who bring out, to the infinite amusement of the audience, the grotesque business of the piece and the sparkling music of Mr. Sullivan with equal success.
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