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From The Times, Friday, July 14, 1911.

THE GUILDHALL SCHOOL OF MUSIC

The choice of The Yeomen of the Guard for the students’ opera performance in their own theatre last night was a capital one, for they were able to give it in a way which could be enjoyed without having to make allowances for the fact that it was being given by a company of students. Everything was well within their powers. The performers on the stage entered thoroughly into the spirit of the piece. They evidently enjoyed singing Sullivan’s delightfully buoyant tunes and speaking Gilbert’s crisp and pointed dialogue. The orchestra, too, were able to make the most of the fresh, clean orchestration, and as the opera requires only one scene and a very pretty picture of Tower Hill had been provided, there were no difficulties of stagecraft to be met, no makeshifts to be put up with as there were last year, when the Guildhall School embarked upon the ambitious scheme of giving Weber’s Oberon.

The performance set an example which we may hope that both the Guildhall and the other schools of music will follow further, for now we have to look to such special efforts for any chance of hearing the Savoy comedies and their revival is always welcome. It would be delightful for the audiences and excellent practice for the students if the schools of music could give us a series of them.

The three characters which were conspicuously well filled last night were the two girls’ parts, Elsie Maynard (Miss Winnie Brown) and Phœbe (Miss Nellie Walker), and the Jester (Mr. Paul McAlister). The two young ladies excelled as singers and both acted brightly, and Mr. McAlister, though he was a little inclined to forget his words in the Merryman’s Song and elsewhere, kept the humour alive without ever giving the feeling that he was trying to be funny. Mr. Bevington Rosse as Sergeant Meryll and Miss Florence Riden as Dame Carruthers were both well in the picture, and Mr. Leonard Holloway seemed cut out for the part of the gaoler both because of his name and his big, harsh voice. Mr. Gerald French sang fairly well as Colonel Fairfax; he has a good tenor voice but his diction was poor. He mouthed his vowels in a way which would have been the despair of the the author, and his acting was below the average.

On the whole the ensemble numbers were neatly sung, especially the rapid alliterative ones, which are so telling a feature in Gilbert’s work, but the quartet “Strange Adventure” would have been improved if the soprano (Miss Lottie Minns) had shown a little more restraint. The chorus deserve a special word of praise, for they sang with a precision and spirit which one often misses in the work of professional operatic choruses, and the grouping on the stage was exceedingly effective.

Mr. Landon Ronald conducted the performance, which will be repeated to-day and to-morrow under the direction of Mr. S. Coleridge Taylor.


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