Original Australian Cast
Saturday April 20th, 1889
Initial run: 42 performances

Sir Richard Cholmondeley

Mr. Tom Grundy

Colonel Fairfax

Mr. C. M. Leumane

Sergeant Meryll

Mr. Walter Marnock

Leonard Meryll

Mr. William Johnson

Jack Point

Mr. William Elton

Wilfred Shadbolt

Mr. Howard Vernon

Elsie Maynard

Miss Nellie Stewart

Phoebe Meryll

Miss Ida Osborne

Dame Carruthers

Miss G. Ameris

Kate

Miss May Pollard

REVIEW OF THE AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE OF 'THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD'

The Yeomen of the Guard - the latest of the Gilbert-Sullivan operas - is such a distinct departure from the methods hitherto employed in the previous compositions by the same firm, that the majority of people will require to see it a second time before they can quite make up their as to its exact value, It is quite out of place to compare it to the other Gilbert-Sullivan operas, for Sir Arthur Sullivan has evidently set himself to create a new style, with probably a tendency to grand opera. And this tendency is more noticeable in the orchestration than in any other part of the music. Throughout the opera the instrumentation charms the ear into an almost total disregard of the efforts of the vocalists, and if it were possible to give the whole of the orchestral music of The Yeomen of the Guard as a kind of symphony without reference to performers or plot, the effort would be highly agreeable, for the real beauties of the work lie in the orchestration, which is at once tenderly melodious and yet vividly dramatic.

M. Leon Caron shows fine sympathetic judgment in dealing with this orchestral work, and his aptitude in getting the utmost value from his instruments, not only reflects highly on his skill as a musician, but tends to bring about a very high artistic result from the performance as a whole. M. Caron is equally successful in dealing with the solo and concerted music, while the choral work under his Bâton seems to fuse together with the orchestra more than any other portion of the vocal music.

In all his work Sir Arthur Sullivan brings to mind fleeting memories of other operas, and The Yeomen of the Guard is no exception to the rule - yet when these memories are thought over the resemblance beyond the first impression is not further traceable. In his new departure Sir Arthur Sullivan has not given "catchy" airs. This is certainly not for the want of power, for he is one of the master melodists of his time, but he is also one of the master-humourists, and it is in this particular that the "Yeomen" music shines.

A general description of the plat with extracts from the libretto was given in last week's issue of TABLE-TALK and need not be referred to here beyond emphasising the fact that Mr. Gilbert as well as his confrère has opened fresh ground. Miss Nellie Stewart, as Elsie Maynard, gave a picturesque illustration of what is at best a vague and undefined character, and in the hands of a less capable artist would have been allowed to remain vague and undefined. But Miss Stewart had thought out every point which could add life and colour to the part, and presented an animated character, rather pathetic but always interesting. Some very heavy music fell to her, and this she delivered with fine effect. That her voice had never been in better order, was exemplified in the ballad "'Tis done, I am a bride," when the concluding high notes were given with perfect intonation and vigor. But her best effort was in the concerted music in the finale to the last act.

Of Miss Ida Osborne, it is to be at once said that she has never acted so brightly, nor looked so charming, nor sang so artistically as she does in the part of Phoebe Meryll. Certainly the character is one of the best delineated in the piece by the author, and Miss Osborne has caught its exact spirit, and keeps the attention of the audience from first to last. Her opening solo "When Maiden Loves" was sung tenderly and prettily, while the song "Were I Thy Bride" was marked by such dainty by-play that it was one of the successes of the evening.

Mr. William Elton's deliberation of a strolling jester was as neatly finished a piece of character acting as anything he has yet done and at no time was this more evident than at the end of the piece where poor Jack Point, whose heart is heavy with sorrow, in a broken voice repeats his first song, "I have a song to sing," and then falls insensible at Elsie's feet. Mr. Elton's share of the dialogue was characteristic of the jester, but not at all after the usual style of this popular comedian and his perfect subjugation of himself betokens his genius in no ordinary manner.

Mr. Howard Vernon has always been eminently fortunate in his assumption of the Gilbertian creations, and in the present instance he has upheld his reputation remarkably well by his clever representation of the head Jailor of the Tower.

Mr C. Leumane, as Colonel Fairfax, sang very pleasantly, and his efforts were so much appreciated that he received hearty applause, particularly for the ballad "Is Life a Boon," while his share of the concerted music was skilfully managed. The dialogue incidental to the character was also given with great point.

It is to be regretted that Mr. Walter Marnock has very little to do beyond taking part in an occasional trio and quartette. Still Mr. Marnock's magnificent voice was of great value in these concerted pieces, and he made the best of his opportunities.....

Of the stage management as usual, Mr John Wallace is to be spoken of with complimentary emphasis. The Yeomen of the Guard has been produced with more realistic completeness than the firm have ever attempted, and the fashions and the manners of the time are so well illustrated that the representation is like looking into a page of history.

Mr. John Brunton's scenery - Tower Green and On the Ramparts - are perfect examples of his genius as an artist and his thorough architectural knowledge, while the colouring is in his happiest manner.

Melbourne Table Talk. April 26th, 1889.

"The first performance of "The Yeomen of the Guard" in Australia drew together one of the largest audiences of the season at this theatre on Saturday evening, many persons in the drew circle undergoing the discomfort of standing during the whole of the entertainment, rather than forego the pleasure of witnessing the first production of the opera. As will have been gathered from the preliminary sketch of the plot which we published on Saturday, Mr. Gilbert has taken a new departure in writing the libretto. In the dialogue he has adopted the phraseology of the Tudor period, in which the action of the opera is supposed to have taken place, and in the quaint songs and ballads of the opera, he has adhered as faithfully as may be to the models of that period, but with such quips and quirks as are essentially the product of his own pleasantly ironical and sub-sarcastic humour.

In the character of Jack Point, the strolling jester, the author has placed upon the stage a personage who is a compound of Touchstone and Bertuccio, combining the pathos of the one with the sententiousness of the other, only instead of representing his diverting qualities as innate and spontaneous, Mr. Gilbert satirises the professional fool, who made mirth for kings and nobles, as mere mime who conned his jokes by heart out of The Merrie Jests of Hugh Ambrose, and was willing to undertake to qualify a morose and gloomy gaoler to become, after two days' instruction, "the very archbishop of jesters". Into this part Mr. Elton threw himself with equal earnestness and insight, and made it the marked histrionic success of the evening.

Mr. Grossmith, we believe, emphasises the humourous side of the Jester's character, to the detriment of the pathos which underlines it. Mr. Elton develops both. He shows you all the artificial waggishness of the perfunctory buffoon, and at the same time the vein of tender sentiment which runs through his nature, and the acute disappointment which renders him in the end "the saddest and sorriest dog in England." Mr. Elton denoted his acting on Saturday evening that the clowns of Shakespeare would find i him an interpreter capable of continuing the traditions and rivalling the humour of Dodd, and Harley, and the elder Compton. And the ability of his performance was recognised by the audience in awarding him the lion's share of the applause bestowed upon the representatives of the leading characters in the opera when they were called before the curtain at the end of the first act.

Of Sir Arthur Sullivan's music it may be honestly affirmed that it is charming from beginning to end. The orchestration is excellent throughout, and many of the numbers are among the best things he has ever written. That occasionally gives us reminiscences of his earlier compositions is perhaps unavoidable. The recitative and song "I've Jest and Joke", is an old friend with a new face. The trio "To Thy Fraternal Care," with its tripping chorus, recalls to mind the numbers in "The Pirates of Penzance." The song of the jester, "Oh! A Private Buffoon," is couched in musical phraseology which has done similiar duty many times before, and the trio, "A Man Who Would Woo a Fair Maid," bears a strong resemblance to "If you wish in the world to Advance." (Editor's comment: Strange that the reviewer quotes from 'Ruddigore' which would not have a performance in the city for many many years. He possibly had access to a vocal score. ). But they are not the less acceptable on that account, and there is plenty of compensating originality in the other numbers.

Miss Nellie Stewart infused into the character of Elsie an abundance of animation, and perhaps her best achievement was the recitative and ballad "'Tis Done, I am a Bride;" which she sang with feeling and expression, and without any straining after effect. It was deservedly encored. Her share in the duet, "I Have a Song to Sing, O," may also be cordially praised; as well as her part in the trios.

As Phoebe, Miss Ida osborne has been fitted with a part that suits her exactly, and she played it with an archness and piquancy that made it one of the marked successes of the evening. Throughout the whole of the ballad "Were I Thy Bride" the capabilities of the vocalist and the actress are called into continual requisition, and Miss Osborne proved herself quite equal to the demand; and the vivacity of her singing and acting was rewarded by a hearty encore. The same qualities were apparent in the trio of Wilfred, Fairfax, and Phoebe, "To Thy Fraternal Care."

The character of the grim gaoler found a capital exponent in Mr. Vernon, who elevated it into an importance greater than it possesses in the libretto; and the gloom of his countenance, manner and speech, offered a humorous contrast to the "cherry, joyous, bright, and frolicsome" attributes which he supposes to belong to his character.

Mr. Leumane does not shine as an actor, but gives a satisfactory interpretation of the music assigned to Fairfax.

Miss G. Ameris, as Dame Curruthers, failed to make a strong impression on the audience.

Mr. Walter Marnock, as Sergeant Meryll, did not seem to have mastered the music of his part.

The subordinate characters of Kate Carruthers, Sir Richard Cholmondeley, and Leonard Meryll received full justice at the hands of Miss May Pollard, Mr. F Grundy, and Mr. W. Johnson respectively.

There is only one set scene to "The Yeomen of the Guard" at the Savoy Theatre, but Mr. John Brunton has furnished it with two at the Princess's each of them a beautiful picture. The first shows Caesar's keep, from the old Tower Green, upon which state criminals were formerly beheaded; and the second embraces the same great object, with its picturesque adjuncts, as they existed in the sixteenth century - Limehouse Reach, on the Thames, and the many gabled buildings which lined the rivers''s bank on each side. In the first act the action commences at midday and terminates at sunset, and in the second it begins in the moonlight and ends sometime after dawn, so that plenty of scope is afforded for effects which lend additional variety to the scenes.

"The Yeomen of the Guard" will be repeated every evening for some time to come, and is an opera which is likely to grow in favour the better it is known.

The Melbourne Argus. Monday April 22nd, 1889.

NEWS OF THE DAY
BURNING OF THE BIJOU THEATRE
TOTAL DESTRUCTION
FIRE BRIGADE DIASTERS
TWO MEN KILLED
MANY FIREMEN INJURED
DAMAGES ESTIMATED AT £50,000
EXCITING SCENES AND EPISODES

Easter Monday in Melbourne had a fiery close. The day, which had displayed all the Indian summer barminess had hardly begun to die when from the very center of the city a pillar of smoke was seen to ascend which attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of eyes in the city and the suburbs, on the many recreation and picnic grounds, down on the beaches, out in the woodlands, everywhere about the city.
On the East Melbourne Cricket ground a very large attendance were witnessing a very exciting game of baseball. Suddenly the banner of the fire was announced, and a rush was made to the pavilion roof and to the gates, The cry of fire attracted all, and those on the roof saw that all were similarly attracted. So on the M.C.C. ground. From all the rendezvous about the city the people were flocking like long flights of sea-fowl to the meres. Everything was thrown aside as, at the summons of the fiery cross of old, and everybody rallied to the appeal.
In town it was different. At half-past 4 a wildly excited man burst into The Argus office with one shout of fire and another for the telephone. The Palace Hotel was on fire. And even before that in the front bar of the hotel Mr. wilson, with a couple of friends, were enjoying a social glass when a maid of the hotel rushed in with the news that a chimney was on fire. Mr. Wilson's glass was full, and probably remains untasted yet, for he hurried out and found that it was a very big chimney indeed. The fire fiend is a very foul fiend, and takes every advantage he can, and therefore made his assault on a day when it was by no means likely that any preparation would be made for attack. In all establishments of the city every man who could be spared was spared for a holiday. And therefore, probably the hotel and the theatre and the fire brigade officers, and even the police barracks, were as lightly manned as on any day of the year. But the flame shot out through the roof, and there was instant consternation. Whence it came and where it first appeared are matters which as yet are by no means settled. There are many reports, all chronicled in due sequence. There is one certainty, that a terrible and horrible catastrophe has occurred. There are at least two dead witnesses now, one killed by falling through the roof, and another crushed and killed by a falling wall. There are nearly a dozen maimed by the various chances of the fire and the crowd, and it is a marvel and mercy that there are not many more, for the fire happened at a most awkward time of an exceptional day. It was, as near as can be judged, half past 4 - when in the autumn people are beginning on a holiday to turn their steps - when a cry of fire caused all to turn and at once the one to see and the other to escape the crush. By 5 every train and every tram was coming in full, and the railway and pavement of Swanson Street was crowded to their full carrying capacity.

Melbourne Argus. Tuesday April 23rd, 1889.

THE CONDUCTOR OF THE VICTORIAN ORCHESTRA

As already stated in The Argus of Saturday last, the committee of the Victorian Orchestra, acting on the advice of the London sub-committee, have appointed Mr, Hamilton Clarke as conductor of the new orchestral organisation.
James Hamilton Clarke is a native of Birmingham, having been born there in June, 1840. His musical aptitude was exhibited in his early youth, as he was oorganistto one of the churches of his native town at the age of 12. At 19 he appeared as a theatrical composer, with an overturwhich was speedily followed by others, as well as dramatic music. He did not, however, lose his original taste for church music, as in 1864 he was awarded the first prize for anthems by the College of Organists. Leaving England for a visit to the sister isle, he became conductor of the Belfast Anacreontic Society. After spending some time in travel, he returned to London in 1871, and two years later produced a Symphony in F, which was given (under his own conducting) in the Albert-hall. After its performance he received the congratulations of Gounod on his work. In 1878 Mr. Clarke was appointed conductor and musical director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre, in which position he wrote a good deal of dramatic music. A second symphony in G was played in 1879, and later on Mr. Clarke furnished the music for some half dozen ballets. In operatic composition he has been an active though only partially successful worker, having essayed this form of composition no fewer than 11 times. Among the rest of Mr. Clarke's compositions are two cantatas, many overtures, 12 marches, more than 20 anthems (some of which are published by Novello and Co.), several part songs, about 50 songs, numerous organ pieces, and also pieces for flute, violin and pianoforte. His latest work is A Manual of the Orchestra. Mr. Clarke holds a degree of Mus. Bac. Oxon, and as a performer is said to be a very good organist and a fair pianist. As to his conducting and orchestra there will soon be an opportunity of judging from personal observation.

Argus. Monday May 20th, 1889.

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