REVIEW OF THE FIRST NEW ZEALAND PRODUCTION OF 'THE SORCERER'
The large audience which on Saturday night patronised the first performance of the "new comic opera company" evinced considerable interest in the result. When we state that the company is almost wholly made up of amateurs, and that the project from the first was an emanation of what is somewhat vaguely called "local talent", the real success of the performance will cause as much surprise as satisfaction...The piece selected had also the merit of being a musical burlesque in the best sense of the term. The form and treatment of the subject both by the librettist and the composer are typical of English manners and modes of feeling.
The "Sorcerer" is indeed a burlesque of Mephistopheles in "Faust", but the Satanic prototype is transformed into a "mercurial" commercial traveller, who represents an eminent firm in St. Mary Axe, London, of which firm this redoubtable person is also a member. The way in which this volatile dramatic being contributes to the fun, as well as the development of the plot, is very skilful and, indeed, unique....He mixes the potion in a teapot, all drink, and all fall desperately in love with the "wrong" person. The fun created is excellent for its point and refinement. It leads up to the chorus which forms the finale to the first act. The idea of making a teapot do duty for a bell to summon "hosts of ghosts" is really grotesque. The incantation scene is incredibly comical. The second act abounds with the ludicrous mistakes of the dramatis personae, who remain under the influence of the love potion until John Wellington Wells repents of the evil he has wrought, and disappears beneath the stage amid the usual red and blue fire.
The libretto is by Mr. W. S. Gilbert, a veteran playwright, and the music is by Mr. Arthur Sullivan, a young composer, who has achieved a high reputation for this class of music. The style of the libretto is rather above the average of merit of literature of this kind. The music is very light, flowing, and occasionally sparkling. It allies itself closely with the language it illustrates. This by itself is a rare merit, for Offenbach has proved how great a discrepancy there may be between good music and the subject of it.
The greatest individual success was, to our own thinking, that of Miss Isobel Hunter, as Constance. She is graceful, self-possessed, and artless. He voice (soprano) is nicely modulated, and without apparent effort she succeeded completely in the part allotted to her. Her singing, "When he is here," was vigorously applauded. Mr. Riccardi, as Dr. Daly, sang the music superbly, but we are not at all certain that he portrayed the kind of vicar indicated in the libretto. Mr. Gilbert had in his mind a somewhat rubicund and jolly country parson. Mr. Riccardi's impersonation was somewhat lymphatic and sentimental, but the "make-up" was faultless. The moment he appeared the truthfulness of the portrait to the general conception of decorous clergyman was recognised. The ballad "Time was when love and I," and the song, "Engaged to So-and-so," were fine examples of Mr. Riccardi's fine musical culture and skill. Both were applauded. Miss Leaf, as Aline, sang with extraordinary vigour and entire success. Her rendering of the air, "Happy young heart," earned for her applause that was again and again renewed. She attired the part very richly and with great taste and propriety.
Mr. Crain, about whom there was a good deal of curiosity, was unfortunately hoarse. It was only the fact that the performance had been postponed the previous night, and he would not allow himself to be the cause of a second postponement that he was induced to sing at all. He acquitted himself satisfactory under the circumstances. He sang the pretty ballad "For Love Alone", very successfully, but his hoarseness increased as the performance progressed. The choruses were very good, consisting of between thirty and forty voices. The audience would have the finale to the first act repeated, but the demand threw the orchestra out of the run of the score. The effect was unpleasant, but the audience alone was in fault....The orchestra was not quite in accord with the spirit of the musical composition. There was a rigour in the "timing" which had the worst effect upon some of the more buoyant movements of the music...
New Zealand Herald. May 26th, 1879.
NEWS OF THE DAY: GIANT MUSHROOM
A mushroom weighing 1 lb 3 ozs was on view yesterday at the shop of Robert Brewin, and attracted great attention. This mushroom was grown on the property of Mr. Cunningham, clerk of the Police Court. One farmer was heard to say that Ponsonby soil must be good, if Mr. Cunningham has many more like this one. We believe this gentleman has a few fully as large as the one on exhibition.
New Zealand Herald. May 24th, 1879.
NEWS OF THE DAY: THE RICCARTON SCHOOL
A meeting was held last night in the schoolroom, Riccarton, respecting the dismissal of Mr. Wilson, the head teacher. The reason assigned for his dismissal was that he refused to comply with the direction of the Board that he should instruct the children in military drill. The whole correspondence relating to the matter was laid before the meeting, but Mr. Wilson denied that the drill question was at the bottom of the affair, and made certain charges against the Rev. C Bowen of having endeavored to induce him to over-ride the Act by introducing religious instruction into the school.
Christchurch Press. Tuesday June 17th, 1879.
COLUMN COMMENT: ELECTRIC LIGHT FOR LIGHTHOUSES
For lighthouse purposes the electric light apears to be in the main well adapted. The difficulties necessarily attendant at the outset upon maintaining an illuminating agent of this novel and, we may add, apparently capricious character, appear to have now been in great measure overcome, for from records recently made public we learn that it is a very rare occurrence for the lights to fail, and that the machinery works with great regularity and efficiency. As regards cost, it appears that at present the expense of the electric light is considerably greater than that of the best oil or gas light, but it must be borne in mind that the former yields a much more powerful light, and, taking this elemant into consideration, that the increase in the power of light obtained from electricity is much greater than the relative increase in cost.
From Nautical News as featured in the New Zealand Herald.
HERALD REVIEW: CHIARINIS CIRCUS
Expectation during the last week has been on tiptoe in anticipation of the opening of Chiarini's Royal Italian Circus. The reputation which the proprietor acquired for the excellence of his stud and the elegance of his performances, during his tour of the Australian colonies and New Zealand, seven years ago led intending patrons to anticipate a treat of no ordinary kind, and apparently those who were present last night were not disappointed. The horses introduced were really splendid animals, in good condition, extremely pretty, and docile to a degree not often witnessed. It might have been expected that they would be a little fresh, on account of the long spell of idleness they had on the passage from San Francisco, but, on the contrary, they were well in hand. They all showed the excellent training which they had received, and in many instances the approval of the audience was evidenced by loud and prolonged applause. We are afraid to say how many persons were present, but it was a very large number indeed.
New Zealand Herald. Saturday November 1st, 1879.
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