Original Australian Cast
Saturday, May 9th, 1885
Initial run: 42 performances

The Lord Chancellor

Mr. Robert Brough

The Earl of Mountararat

Mr. W.H. Woodfield

The Earl Tolloller

Mr. Frank Boyle

Private Willis

Mr. Ernest St. Clair


Signor Brocolini

The Queen of the Fairies

Miss Florence Trevelyan


Miss Emma Chambers


Miss Nellie Stewart


"The first production of a new opera by the famous collaborateurs, Sir Arthur Sullivan and Mr. W.S. Gilbert, attracted, as might have been expected an immense audience to the Theatre Royal on Saturday evening. Iolanthe, or The Peer and the Peri, is the title of the work performed, showing a firm adherence to the lucky initial letter that has been titularly associated with all the greatest triumphs of the composer and the librettist. The story has all the amusing improbabilities and paradoxes characteristic of the author, and his power of inventing novel and effective scenes, and of writing pointed and humourous dialogue, is shown no less in this work than its predecessors. Mr. Gilbert has also adapted the device of alliteration with very happy effect, this ancient variety of poetic rhythm lending itself equally well to the illustration of prose.

The opera is in two acts, the scene of the first being an Arcadian landscape, and the second taking place in the Palace-yard, Westminster.

(There follows a description of the opera's plot.)

Among the artists who made their first colonial appearance on this occasion, Mr. Robert Brough, who represents the Lord Chancellor, claims first mention. He is an admirable actor, and has made a complete and exhaustive study of the part, bringing out every point, and never for an instant allowing the continual stream of humorous speech and action to be contaminated by the slightest approach to vulgarity. His enunciation is remarkable distinct even when the most rapid utterance is required. The songs A Susceptible Chancellor, Said I to Myself - Said I, and When You're Lying Awake, were all given with the utmost aplomb and verve, while the grotesque dance at the end of the trio Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady was irresistibly funny.

Miss Florence Trevelyan, who appeared as the Fairy Queen, made an excellent impression by her distinct and intelligent delivery, and the agreeable manner, in which she used a not very powerful voice.

Mr. Frank Boyle's impersonation of Lord Tolloller may be commended.

Miss Nellie Stewart made a pretty and piquant Shepherdess, and the Iolanthe of Miss Emma Chambers was in some respects good.

Mr. Woodfield gave an excellent rendering of the part of Lord Mountararat, to which he imparted a considerable amount of character, and also sang very effectively.

The rôle of Strephon was undertaken by Signor Brocolini, who did not appear to be in either good voice or quite at ease in his part.

The three principal fairies were agreeably represented by Misses Temple, Kelton and Forde, and Mr. Ernest St. Clair made his first appearance as the sentry, producing a favorable impression. The choruses were well sung, and the grouping and costumes pretty and effective.

The orchestra proved fully equal to the satisfactory rendition of the music, and the beautiful scenery by Mr. Gordon elicited much applause.

The music bears in every part the distinct individuality of the composer, although having no actual resemblance to his other operas. The concerted numbers are cleverly constructed, and many of the melodies extremely pretty, while the orchestration shows an artistic hand and poetic imagination.

Iolanthe will be performed every evening."

Melbourne Age. Monday May 11th, 1885.

The announcement of a new opera by Gilbert and Sullivan at the Theatre Royal on Saturday night was sufficient to attract such crowds of spectators that all parts of the house were filled to overflowing long before the hour for commencement had arrived. "Iolanthe, or the Peer and the Peri", was first produced at the Savoy Theatre, in London, in November, 1882. Like other works from the hands of the same bright-minded authors, it has enjoyed since that time a well-deserved popularity - a fact that we can readily understand now that we have seen the performance for ourselves.

When this play opens the stage is filled with a host of beautiful and tender fairies, dancing their graceful rounds, and singing they know not why nor wherefore. There is only one drawback to their happiness, namely, the absence from amongst them of their sweet sister, Iolanthe, who has been banished for the last five and twenty years for having married a mortal.

(There follows a description of the opera's plot.)

The cast on Saturday night deserves particular mention, various names appearing in it for the first time here. Foremost amongst these stands the name of Mr. Robert Brough, a talented member of a talented family, recently arrived here from London. Mr. Brough played the part of the LOrd Chancellor. We hail this gentleman's appearance with great satisfaction. He is a genuine comedian, who impresses himself on his audience by no other than the most legitimate means. With a voice of no very great weight, either in singing or speaking, he yet possesses clear and penetrating tone, and such exemplary clearness of utterance, both in speaking and singing, as gives him special value in such parts as this of which we speak. He is free from all conventional tricks of feature or gesture, and makes the humour of his lines speak for itself, without extravagant emphasis or inartistic inflexion. He is free in his bearing, and, above all, intelligent in manner. It was this last named qualification which was the first to attract the goodwill of the audience, and this feeling grew in favour of the actor, until his every entry found some hands to applaud, which made him amongst the principals who were called at the end of the first act the mark of a very storm of appreciation. The song "When I went to the Bar", was encored. Another song, "When lying awake", is the most elaborate to re-demand. The trio between the Chancellor and the two prominent lords, "If you go in, you're sure to win", is a very spirited measure, having a dance at the end of each verse as well as a musical refrain, and Mr. Brough, be it known, can dance as well as he can do everything else. The trio was boisterously encored.

Mr. Woodfield, as Lord Mountararat, appeared to singularly good advantage. Mr. F. Boyle made his first theatrical public appearance here as Lord Tolloller, and used his light tenor voice which we have already described to good effect in the progress of the work.

Private Willis has one song to sing, "When all night long a chap remains", and Mr. Ernest St Clair, who played the part, and made his first appearance here, sang it so well as to gain a hearty encore. Mr. St Clair was altogether an efficient representative of the part allotted to him. We cannot compliment Signor Brocolini upon his singing on Saturday night, as it was most unexpected out of tune.

The Queen of the Fairies was played with an excellent perception of the humour of the part by Miss Florence Trevelyan. This lady has a fine stage appearance, an excellent speaking voice and a clear delivery, and a good contralto voice in the lower range, but showing an obvious break in transition to the higher tones. Her song in the second act, "Oh! foolish Fay", was so well sung,and was so entirely suited to her, that she was loudly and deservedly encored.

Miss Emma Chambers brings her good qualities as a very capable actress to the successful performance of the part of Iolanthe, which turns out in the main to be rather more serious than we expected, but which Miss Chambers interprets with excellent feeling and effect.

Miss Nellie Stewart, always ready and accurate, gave a very successful portraiture of the attractive young ward in chancery; she sang well and acted with vivacity, and was heartily applauded throughout the night.

Miss Emma Temple, Miss Aggie Kelton, and Miss Lillie Forde, the leaders of the fairies, deserve to be spoken of with great praise.

Speaking in general terms of the music, it shows all the skill and refinement which were so noticeable in the same composer's "Patience", but hardly so much of the ready invention that there is to be found in "Pinafore". The orchestral portion of the work is in all respects most admirable. The ensemble effects are worked up with all the skill for which Sullivan's music has been noted from the first.

The mounting of the piece is magnificent, the procession of peers in the first act being a most gorgeously dressed affair.

The chorus singing and general go of the work denoted good drill.

New scenery, in the best manner, has been painted by Mr. Gordon, and that artist was twice called on during the evening. In the second act the adjustment of the lights of the windows would admit of improvement as there was at first scarely sufficient brightness in the scene.

The whole of the principals were recalled at the end of the first act. The audience were loud in their praises at this first representation, which finishes at half-past 10 o'clock.

"Iolanthe" is announced for constant repetition.

Melbourne Argus. Monday May 11th, 1885.


The mystery surrounding the extensive robbery which was committed at the Commercial Bank, Collins-street West, on Tuesday night last, the 18th instant, when bullion to the value of about £4600 and £670 in notes were abstracted from the safe in the strong-room, has been satisfactory cleared up by the detective police, who succeeded yesterday afternoon in apprehending Richard Henry Corbett, the eldest son of the caretaker of the bank, with a potion of the proceeds of the robbery in his possession.

Melbourne Argus. September 24th, 1883.


By J.G.D.

(Extract) As a tourist I had two solemn duties to perform at Queenstown, and I was uneasy until they had been accomplished. One was to ascend Ben Lomond, and the other to bathe in the lake.
I felt I must bathe, but then the horrible idea of sinking out of sight of men, and floating for ever in a mummified condition deep down in the lake, "with silence, and water and monsters around," held me back. And I determined that I would not dive into water deeper than 19ft 6in, at any rate; and, indeed, if I found it very cold that I would only bathe constructively, that is putting a part for the whole, only go in up to my ankles. I rose in the morning without calling C., who would have been an awkward witness in case of constructive bathing. I got a sapling carefully measured to 20ft, and set off. Slowly I undressed, and carefully I waded in, sapling in hand, to keep me from going too far. When a depth of 3ft 6in. was obtained I considered I had tempted fate enough, and plunged under, into "the vastness untrodden and lonely". A gasp, a smothered shriek, and I emerged into the blessed light of the sun once more, triumphant. For me the lake had no further terrors, and I enjoyed my swim, defiant of its evil reputation.

Argus. Saturday May 16th, 1885.


William Barnes was executed at the Melbourne Gaol yesterday for the murder of Joseph Bragge Slack at South Melbourne on the 9th September last. Since his conviction the prisoner has been much depressed, and on Wednesday he showed signs of breaking down. He became subject to fits of stupor, but during the visits of the Rev. H. F. Scott, who attended him assiduously, he listened attentively, and showed signs of repentance. On Thursday night he sank into an apathetic state of half consciousness, and it was feared that he would not be able to walk on to the drop. At half-past seven yesterday he refused breakfast, and he had to be supported when an hour later his irons were knocked off and he was conducted to his condemned cell near the gallows. Presently the Rev. H.F. Scott arrived at the gaol, and found him in a most abject condition, but he rallied under the reverend gentleman's ministrations, and asked that his last words should be given as words of warning to all evil doers to give up their crimes before they were brought to die on the scaffold like "Billy Barnes". He said gambling and women had been his ruin. He also told Mr. Scott that on the drop he would say he was guilty, but the clergyman said he need not do so, as he had already confessed. Just as the clock struck 10 the sheriff, Colonel Rede, accompanied by Dr. Shields, the medical officer of the gaol went to the door of the condemned cell and demanded the body of the prisoner.

Argus. Saturday May 16th, 1885.


Five O'Clock Tea

The name of the originator of the now universal custom of partaking of light refreshment in the shape of tea and bread and butter, at some period or periods ranging from 3.30 to 6, or even later, is not known to fame; and whether such an individual actually existed is a matter of extreme doubt. It is more than probable that the custom is due to the late hour in which dinner is announced. Ladies found that the duties which compelled them in the afternoon to give their attention to visiting lists, or the attractions of such fascinating establishments as may be found in Bond Street orin Piccadilly, were very fatiguing; and the hours which elapsed between luncheon and dinner suggested the need of something, and hence perhaps five o'clock tea. The hour of five for tea was obviously chosen as coming midway between luncheon and dinner, which are, on the average, generally fixed at 1.30 and 8pm respectively. But now, so capable of extension has this fashion become, that five no longer indicates the time at which the tea may be expected, but merely acts as a prefix - rather redundant - to the phrase of five o'clock tea.

Table Talk. June 26th, 1885.


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