Original New Zealand Cast
Monday, June 9th, 1879

Sir Joseph Porter

Mr. Riccardi

Captain Corcoran

Mr. C. Harding

Ralph Rackstraw

Mr. John Crain

Dick Deadeye

Mr. Mr. Hodson

Josephine

Miss Alice Leaf

Little Buttercup

Miss Hunter

Cousin Hebe

Miss Teague


REVIEW OF THE FIRST NEW ZEALAND PRODUCTION OF 'H.M.S.  PINAFORE'

The production of "H.M.S. Pinafore" last night by Mr. Riccardi's company was a decided success, but not so pronounced as it would have been had the inadequacy of the preparatory rehearsal been less observable. There, are, however, so many good things in the composition itself, the aspect of the stage was so enspiriting, the leading performers generally so effective, and the audience so willing to be pleased that the curtain fell amidst very warm applause. Where such a measure of approval is the result of a first representation, there is reason for believing that the subsequent performances will so improve from night to night that after one or two repeats the entertainment will be as perfect as it can be.

There was a large attendance, and the seamen of the war vessels in harbour were liberal of their patronage and approbation.

The chorus was unusually large, and the orchestra thoroughly efficient. It should not be forgotten that in performances of this kind, where the chorus has to undergo some preliminary training, and where the members of the chorus cannot constantly attend rehearsals, there is always a margin upon which errata must be marked, however great the success achieved. Last night some parts of the choruses were remarkably strong and accurate, while other parts were considerably mixed. But they worked through with praiseworthy persistence, and except to the trained ear there would have appeared no great reason to finding fault. The finales were generally good, and a good finish will overcome many defects.

The comic action of the piece was not at first so apparent from the evident earnestness of the vocalists. It consists in the "swell" of the Great First Lord, elevated through Parliament, from an attorney's clerk. How perfectly Mr. Riccardi has got the meaning of the role is really worth seeing. The captain's daughter, Josephine, loves a sailor "before the mast", although her hand is sought by the First Lord, and Hebe, the First Lord's first cousin, has a reversionary interest in the failure of this wooing. Dick Deadeye is a nautical Danny Mann. Little Buttercup, however, discloses the fact that once she kept a "baby-farming" establishment, and "mixed" two blessed, one being Ralph Rackstraw and the other the Captain, upon which Josephine melts in the arms of the "foremast" lover.

The references to contemporary follies and absurdities are sometimes extremely comical, but rather subtle, and their actual scope and purpose are not completely grasped upon a first night.

The singing of the leading roles was excellent, Miss Leaf being in splendid voice, Miss Teague thoroughly conversant with the exigencies of her part, and Miss Hunter almost perfect in her manner of delivering the really clever passages of the libretto which she had to interpret. For it must be recollected, that if correct singing is essential, the point and meaning of the written text is scarely less requisite.

Besides the regular members of the chorus, a considerable number of the men of the Naval Brigade gave their services, and a hornpipe was brought in very appropriately to heighten the scene. A full stage is always grateful to the audience. The constant stir and movement prevent flagging and vacuity.

The libretto is throughout very clever. The manner in which the deck of a large ship was represented was very ingenious. The opera was well mounted. The costuming was all that could be desired. The music is flowing and graceful, with a vein of the "Rule Britannia" running through it, which sustains its national and marine character.

The whole thing is very spirited, and capable of any extent of enlargement. There are two or three duets, two trios, and one sestette of exquisite harmony in the composition. These were all well rendered. There was nothing defective in the performance but what another rehearsal or two can cure.

"H.M.S Pinafore" is sure to be even more popular than even the "Sorcerer". The fact is, that the "Sorcerer" surprised everybody and outran expectation, This opera will reach it to the fullest height, for it is a more solid composition in itself, and appeals to sympathies that are always present with the audiences who come to see and hear it.

New Zealand Herald. Tuesday June 10th, 1879.

NEWS OF THE DAY:

REWI'S VISIT TO AUCKLAND

The Hon. J Sheehan, Native and Defence Minister, being fully occupied in business with Northern natives all day yesterday, Rewi Maniapoto, accompanied by Mr. J.C. Young, Mr. Moss, and the Taupo chief Hitire, paid a visit to the Institute at the Three Kings, where the party were received by the Rev, Mr. Buddle. There are thirteen native boys undergoing tuition at this institute. They were examined in spelling, reading, and arithmetic, and showed very great proficiency, spelling readily very difficult words, and giving the Maori interpretation of their meaning, The sums on the black board were also readily done. A number of the boys repeated the well-known poem, "Sound the Loud Timbrel O'er Egypt's Dark Sea," and one of their number then recited it in Maori. Rewi, who appeared to be highly pleased with the establishment, addressed the native pupils. He told them to receive the instruction which was now being imparted to them by the Rev. Mr. Buddle. The rising generation would greatly profit and be much benefited if they gave heed to the knowledge which they were taught, but people advanced in years, as he was, could not hope for much benefit from it. He again advised them to keep to the school, and attend to the instructions imparted to them. After being shown through the establishment, the party were entertained at lunch by the Rev. Mr. Buddle.

New Zealand Herald. Wednesday June 28th, 1879.

NEWS OF THE DAY:

FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY

The question of the propriety of establishing a Free Public Library in this city, which was discussed and approved some time ago in the City Council, on teh basis of taking ovre the Mechanics' Institute, was yestreday sunmitted to the vote of teh ratepayers, and was decided by the ballot, in the liberal and progressive direwction. The poll was taken by ballot at the Mechanics' Institute, and was presided over by Mr. H. Ridings, Returning Officer. It was certain fromthe first tolast, that the poll would be in favour of the Free Library, but there were a number of persons who interested themselves in the opposite direction. There was little of the animation which would have been manifested had the election been between opposing candidates, but it was creditable to the intelligence of the city that, ina question of this sort, so many votes were recorded. Polling commenced at 9am, and closed at 4pm. In about a quator of an hour afterward the enumeration was completed, and the numbers were posted, Those most genuine of success were astonished at the large majority of voted in favour of a Free Public Library for Auckland. The numbers are:-
    For         ... ... ... ...   723
    Against    ... ... ...    91
    Majority for ... ...    637

New Zealand Herald. Friday June 28th, 1879.

NEWS OF THE DAY: THE GREAT SOUTHERN RAILWAY

The construction of the first section of the Great Southern Railway, extending from Dandenong to Whitelaws's Track, has been begun by Messes. J Falkingham and Sons, whose contract for the work, amounting to £251,271 19s 2d, was recently accepted by Railway Commissioners. The residents in the district, which it is intended to serve for years pressed their claim for railway communication with the metropolis. The department was anxious to satisfy their demand, but the wildness of the country beyond McDonald's Track, at the slope of the Strezlecki Range, baffled the efforts of the surveyors to find a suitable route. The forest growth in the valleys and on the sides of the mountains was so dense that they had literally to cut their way through the scrub until they reached the summit of the range.

New Zealand Herald. May 24th, 1879.

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