Original New Zealand Cast
Monday, February 27th, 1882.

Colonel Calverley

Signor Riccardi

Major Murgatroyd

Mr. J. F. Forde

Lieut. the Duke of Dunstable

Mr. Armes Beaumont

Reginald Bunthorne

Mr. Howard Vernon

Archibal Grosvenor

Guglielmo (Signor) Verdi


Miss Alice Rees

The Lady Jane

Miss Andrea Novarro

The Lady Angela

Miss Fanny Liddiard


"Last night was marked by what may with perfect justice be considered an event in the annals of New Zealand - the production for the first time in this Colony of Messes Gilbert and Sullivan's latest and already famous comic opera. The public of Dunedin have noted from time to time the appreciation with which "Patience" has been received in England and Australia, and a general feeling of satisfaction was evinced at the news that Mr Williamson had decided to produce the work here at no inconsiderable expense and trouble. Difficulties occurred, however, in making the necessary arrangements which threatened at one time to overthrow the scheme and deprive New Zealanders of a much wished for treat. These were successfully overcome, and the opera was performed for the first time at the Princess Theatre last night, to such a house as has been rarely seen within the walls of that building.

Mr Williamson has, with admirable judgment and foresight, taken advantage of every circumstance and contrivance by which the success of his venture could be rendered more assured, and this must, inevitably weigh heavily in his favour with the public. It is as well to state at the outset that the piece is one to which excellence in mounting and stage arrangements is more than ordinarily essential. It is seldom, if ever, that an opera so well dressed and mounted has been placed upon Dunedin boards and every credit is due to the management and the scenic artist, Mr Alfred Clint.

The curtain rose last night to a house crowed, but critical. A certain amount of doubt existed as to the interest that be excited at this distance over the burlesque of a society craze which, to whatever extent it has been known in England, has here happily remained a sealed topic. This doubt was quickly dispelled as the piece proceeded, the very initial tableau being sufficient by its novelty and quaintness of grouping to elicit an unmistakable round of applause.

The music throughout the opera possesses one quality, which is never found lacking in Arthur Sullivan productions - variety. His compositions are generally known as light and tuneful, but not so light as to prevent them materially improving on acquaintance. This description may be aptly applied to "Patience". It abounds in catchy, taking airs, which are yet arranged in a thoroughly masterly manner, and here and there are found concerted numbers and original combinations, which happily relieve the composition.

The merits of both music and libretto have every possible chance of being fairly brought out by being placed in the hands of artists whose ability has been long established. A glance at the cast will show this. It would be hard indeed if names like Riccardi, Beaumont, Verdi and Vernon did not between them turn out effect a little out of the common; and these are further supported by lady artistes of almost equal standing. It is unnecessary, therefore, to say that the singing, with one or two incidental slips that must always be allowed for, was extremely good.

A few remarks must be made, before concluding, on the respective merits of the individual members of the company. Miss Alice Rees (as Patience) makes up and dresses in good taste. Her acting was marked throughout by a well-assumed simplicity. Miss Rees possesses a singularly fresh, clear voice, and a slight harshness, which was noticed at the outset, entirely disappeared as the evening wore on. The score does not allot a very liberal amount of work to the prima donna, but what there is, is of attractive kind; and Miss Rees was encored not only for her duet with Grovenor but also her two solos.

Miss Andrea Novarro, as Lady Jane, of ripe charms, leader of the limp and lovesick, acted with good judgement and precision, making the most of the spirited dialogue that falls to her share, and singing also remarkably well.

The dragoons appear on the stage in all the splendor of scarlet and gold, officered by Signor Riccardi and Messes Armes Beaumont and J.F. Forde. The former as Colonel Calverley sand in his usual excellent style, and secured an imperative encore for his rendition of "When I first put this uniform on". Mr Beaumont, who takes the Dukes part, was not in his best voice, but made, nevertheless, a good impression upon the audience. An attempt is made to improve upon Mr Gilbert's libretto by the introduction of a song for Mr. Beaumont in the first act. The music is by Signor Giorza, and however the innovation might otherwise have been received, the composition is of so pleasing a character as to ensure it a good reception.

Mr Forde as Major Murgatroyd was thoroughly at home, and lent able support.

We have to accord a very high measure of praise to Mr Vernon for his acting as Reginald Bunthorne, the "fleshly" impostor. The costume of this object of general adoration is a chaste and irreproachable mediaeval suit of russet-brown, tight-fitting, and admirably effective for attitudinising purposes. Mr Vernon is throughout the piece exceptionally spirited in both his dialogue and songs, and probably extracted as much humour out of the part as it was possible for anyone to do. He certainly succeeded in fairly convulsing his audience upon more than one occasion. His singing was also wonderfully correct, when the ammount of bye-play combined with it is taken into consideration, and the character was undoubtedly placed in most capable hands. Encores were readily forthcoming.

Signor Verdi is "intense" after a totally different fashion. He is an aesthete of black velvet, flashing steel buttons, and commanding proportions. This gentleman possesses indisputably a most powerful baritone voice of singularly rich quality, but he was unfortunately slightly out of tune on more than one occasion last night.

A word must be said, in conclusion, as to the chorus, which is thoroughly efficient and well drilled, praise which cannot be often accorded with truth.

Signor Giorza, the musical conductor, has scored an important success in this respect; and the orchestra, led by Signor Tramaglia, are also well together.

"Patience" will, without doubt, enjoy, in Dunedin, a run as successful as the enterprise of the management merits. Not a single seat in the theatre was unoccupied last night; but it is satisfactory to record that every effort had been used to procure additional ventilation, and the theatre did not become uncomfortably hot at any time. It will be necessary for intending visitors to secure their seats in advance for the dress circle."

Otago Daily Times. Tuesday Feb 28th, 1882.


VEGETABLE SOUP - Fry leeks, onion, parsley, carrots cut up fine, turnips also cut up, until they are brown; add two quarts of quite ordinary stock. Let this simmer very gently for three hours; small slices of toast added just as the soup is served. It should not be strained.
GINGER BEER - Put into a bowl 2lb. loaf sugar, one desertspoonful of ground ginger, one spoonful cream of tartar, one teaspoonful essence of lemon. Pour on to the above ingredients four quarts of boiling water and eight quarts of cold water. Stir into this one pennyworth of yeast, leave it twelve hours, take off the yeast and bottle.

Auckland Weekly News. February 24th, 1883.


It is reported that no less than six cases of garrotting occurred on Saturday night, one of which was serious. They have been kept quiet, but the fact leaked out to-day. No particulars are yet available. Another case of assault occurred one night last week, but the man assailed happened to be rather a strong fellow, and left his antagonist senseless, not troubling himself further in the matter.

Christchurch Press. February 27th, 1882.


A fire broke out in a seven-roomed house in Duke Street, near the Great Northern Hotel, yesterday morning at about 3 o'clock. The house, which was totally destroyed, was the property of Mr. James Ashcroft, and was insured in the National Office for £875. The house was occupied by a butcher named Arthur Allen, and he and his son Ernest were the only persons in the house at the time of the fire. Mrs Allean and another son being at Balclutha. Mr. Allen retired to bed at 11 o'clock, leaving a small fire burning in the kitchen range. He was awakened by his son calling out that the place was full of smoke, and on rushing into the passage he found it full of smoke and the back part of the building in flames. Mr. Allen's furniture and effects were insured in the London and Liverpool and Globe Insurance Company's Office for £250. He estimates his loss at this amount. The brigade arrived on the scene very quickly, and rendered good service in preventing the flames from spreading to the adjoining buildings.

Auckland Weekly News. May 27th, 1882.


The way in which passenger traffic on the Auckland and Waikato railway is worked, is giving rise to loud and frequent complaints, and most certainly calls for some interference on the part of the responsible authorities at Wellington. The present state of things at Auckland is simply intolerable. Although Wednesday was a public holiday, no adequate provision appears to have been made to provide for the increase in traffic, the result being over-crowding, crushing, and general confusion. The late down train from Mercer was literally swarming with passengers, all huddled together like sheep in a pen. At Otahuhu, there was a great rush into the the already over-crowded carriage. People had to sit on each other's knees, and stand squeezed together in the gangways, while the platform outside was inconveniently, if not dangerously crowded.

Auckland Weekly News. May 27th, 1882.

Back to the main review listings Return to 'Down under in the 19th Century'