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GILBERT AND SULLIVAN'S COMIC OPERAS.

From The Star (St. Peter Port) 21 July 1881

On Tuesday [presumably a mistake for Monday] evening, under the auspices of Mr. Wybert Rousby, Mr. D'Oyly Carte's Comic Opera Company opened at St. Julian's Hall, with the evergreen favourite "H.M.S. Pinafore", before a very fair and highly appreciative audience, who cheered the most familiar ditties as heartily as if they had been quite new. The characters in some respects, though scarcely so strongly sustained as on previous occasions, were very good interpreters of the author's conceptions. The various points were well made as usual, the Admiral, Captain Corcoran, Ralph Rackstraw, Dick Deadeye, Little Buttercup, and Josephine being the chief supporters of the piece, which has become so familiar by repetition that a more detailed notice of it is rendered unnecessary. Its popularity was little diminished, and it was as well placed upon the stage as on previous occasions. Mr. Ralph Horner was again conductor and accompanyist, and Mr. Herbert Brook was the same courteous acting manager as of old.

On Tuesday evening the opera was under the immediate patronage of the officers of the 1-22nd (Cheshire) Regiment, when by special request the "Sorcerer" was produced for the first time in Guernsey. The following was the cast:–

Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre Mr. T. Joyce.
Alexis Mr. Cadwaladr.
Dr. Daly Mr. Fred Billington.
Notary  Mr. Lackner.
John Wellington Wells Mr. A. Wilkinson.
Lady Sangazure Miss F. Harcourt.
Aline, her Daughter  Miss Ethel Pierson.
Mrs. Partlet Miss Armytage.
Constance Miss Marion Grahame.

This Opera was first produced in 1877, and although it has not attained the same popularity as some of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's other productions, yet its stirring incidents and humorous plot have always ensured it a hearty reception. The design, although not altogether original, is a happy combination of some striking features of well-known plays, deftly blended together and wedded to music of an appropriate character.

The main portion of the plot turns upon the loves of Alexis and Aline, and the desire of the former to make the whole of the villagers as happy as himself, which he proposes to do by the aid of Sorcery. After his own betrothal, he sends for John Wellington Wells, head of a firm of family sorcerers, who supply their wondrous wares "wholesale, retail, and for exportation." In an amusing scene the Sorcerer in a catching patter song, which was encored, describes his wares and his powers; a bargain is struck, a comic incantation scene ensues, (a la the witches in Macbeth) and then the villagers are invited to a feast, and the potion administered, its working becoming visible as the first act closes amidst much merriment.

The second act shows the effect of the spell, all who have partaken of the potion, having become indiscriminately coupled together in a most ill-assorted and ludicrous manner, and the fun which follows gives a good opportunity for some amusing scenes; the vicar, in a doleful ditty, deplores his lonely fate, as all his people want to marry; the proud Sir Marmaduke pairs off with the meek pew opener Mrs. Partlet; Lady Sangazure with the Sorcerer, and so the complications continue until Alexis, desiring to retain her pure and lasting love, induces Aline to drink the philtre, when to his horror he discovers that the spell has driven her into the arms of the worthy Dr. Daly, in whose embrace he finds her. Finding that the scheme has worked so much mischief, Alexis desirous to break the spell attempts to kill the Sorcerer, but that individual filled with remorse prefers to immolate himself, which he does in orthodox stage fashion. His influence being ended, all quit their present partners, for their old lovers, and join in a general dance over the Sorcerer's grave.

The onus of the piece, the great feature of which is the acting, rested upon Alexis, Aline, Sir Marmaduke, Dr. Daly, Mrs. Partlet and John Wellington Wells, and the Quintette by the former, which was very effectively rendered, was warmly encored. The rustic scenes were capitally arranged, especially the betrothal and the village feast, the dresses and groupings being most picturesque. Although in many parts the music was not so striking as that of the "Pinafore", yet there were several effective numbers which were duly noted and received well merited applause; indeed the whole performance, amusing and enlivening from beginning to end, appeared to be thoroughly appreciated by the audience, which was one of the largest and most aristocratic gathered in St. Julian's Hall for some time past. "The Sorcerer" would well bear repetition, but we are promised by Mr. Rousby "The Pirates of Penzance " shortly, another Gilbert and Sullivan treat in store.


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