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Review from The Orchestra, 21 May 1864

A short instrumental prelude suggestive of the charms of fairyland is followed by an andante to which the curtain rises, disclosing a sea-shore with sleeping nymphs. Satyrs enter, and waking the slumberers join with them in a characteristic dance in 2/4 time. After a languid and beautifully slow movement (in which the playing of Mr. Lazarus upon the clarionet calls for the highest praise), this number concludes with a sparkling galop in the key of E. A storm arises which scares away the fairies and washes on shore a shipwrecked mariner (M. Desplaces) who falls exhausted upon a rock. The Queen of the Fairies (Mdlle. Salvioni) then appears, and as a matter of course a long love scene ensues. The descriptive force of the music which accompanies this scene is especially remarkable.

Led by his fair enslaver, the mariner is conducted to the fairy bower, which has afforded Mr. William Beverley an opportunity of which he has not failed to avail himself to the utmost. The result is indeed a masterpiece of scenic art. After being subject to numerous bewilderments at the hands of his supernatural guide, expressed by Mr. Sullivan in music unusually picturesque and beautiful, the stranger encounters other nymphs, who test his constancy with all the fascinating allurements of terpsichorean art. A valse, a variation for Mdlle. Carmine, and a grand pas de trois conclude this number.

An episode of jealousy (agitato in G minor) is followed by the entrance of the entire corps de ballet. The grouping of figures in this scene has been most artistically devised, and its effect is much enhanced by the charmingly appropriate music (common time in F major) which accompanies it. The story, which we have but imperfectly sketched, draws to a close. The mariner succeeds in rendering his fairy preserver mortal by means of a kiss, and is rewarded for his fidelity by her hand. There remain but two pieces, the first of which, a galop in C major, is so bright and spirited that we may expect to hear it in many ballrooms; and the last takes us back to the love scene by the sea-shore.

We cannot conclude without a word of hearty recommendation to Mr. A. Harris, to whom the credit of the superb mis en scene is due. Of the excellent performance of the orchestra it is almost needless to speak. It is sufficient to say that they played the highly elaborated, and in some parts extremely difficult music, which Mr. Sullivan has allotted to them with the greatest brilliancy and finish. Choreographer M. Desplaces; Dresses Mr. James and Mr. Combs; Machinery Mr. Sloman; Appointments Mr. Bruton; other dancers Mdlle. Navarre, Mdlle. Assunta, Mr. W. H. Payne.


Transcribed by Scott Farrell


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