THE DOCTOR OF ALCANTARA.
For the first time in Ashburton an opera was presented, on the boards of the Town Hall last night. Thanks to the management, some scenery was provided from Christchurch, which tended in no small degree to relieve the bareness of our stage ; and this innovation was much appreciated by the large audience that assembled. The laurels won by the company in Christchurch for their rendering of Eischberg’s “ Doctor of Alcantara ” were in no way tarnished by the performance of last night, every performer striving to the uttermost to make the performance the immense success it proved. Mr. Towle presided at the piano, and conducted the instrumental portion of the opera with that accuracy and taste he has been bo long noted for. The opera opens with a charming serenade in which Carlos ( Mr. C. Florence), assisted by a chorus, made a great hit. Three ladies, namely, Donna Lucrezia (Mrs. Charles Florence), Isabella, her daughter (Miss Jenny Thorn), and Inez, her maid (Miss Beatrice), then enter, each thinking the serenade intended for themselves. The scene is an apartment overlooking a river, the night being partially illumined by the rays of a full moon. After some pretty conceited music, the ladies recognize each other, and mutual accusations follow, each, however, being secretly impressed with the idea that the charming melody has been intended to soften her own especial heart. The charming naivete of Miss Beatrice’s acting in the part of Inez in this scene was delicious, and was thoroughly appreciated by the spectators. Miss Thorne sang an aria, “ Beneath the gloomy convent walls,” with great taste, but Inez’s solo, “ When aloverispoor,” was listened to with wrapt attention, and would undoubtedly have been encored had not the succeeding music attracted the attention of the audience. Two porters then enter, bearing a huge basket, and singing a comic duet. The stage is then cleared, the lid of the basket opens, and Don Carlos, the serenader, leaps on to the stage and sings the charming cavatina, “ Love’s cruel dart. ” Lucrezia enters, and thinking Don Carlos smitten by her charms, responds to his ardent passages of love in a most amusing manner. He, poor fellow, madly in love withher daughter, feigns to reciprocate, and is with difficulty persuaded when others approach to again seek the friendly shelter of his basket ; after a charming disentitled, “I Love, I Love.” Lucrezia then sings the ballad of “ There was a Knight,” after which she quits the stage and Don Carlos, tired of his captivity, quits the basket and secretes himself in the house. Doctor Paracelsus and Inez then enter and are carious to know what the basket contains ; they lift it on the balcony overhanging the river, and accidentally topple it over into the stream. Imagine their confusion, when shortly afterwards, Lucrezia enters and informs them that the basket contained the amorous Don Carlos. Terrified by the idea that they have unintentionally committed a murder, they are in the greatest horror, and the acting of both Miss Beatrice and Mr. Alexander at this crisis was worthy of all praise. Don Pomposo (Mr. Marshall), accompanied by the watch which had been attracted by the splash in the river here enter, and the first act is brought to a conclusion by a spirited solo of Mr. Marshall’s, and an admirable chorus in which every member of the Company did their best to render the unqualified success it proved. The second act opened with charming Spanish dance music, a trio following in which Inez, Carlos, and Paracelsus take part. Neither Paracelsus nor Inez know who Carlos is, and lie refuses to explain ; his ballad, “All noble hearts,” displayed the excellent quality of his voice to great advantage, and was vociferously redemanded. Carlos is offered some refreshment, and by mistake Inez gives him soma of the doctor’s drugs, of which he swallows a sufficient portion to render him temporarily unconsciona. Again impressed with the idea that a murder has been committed, Inez and Paracelsus are in desperate fear, and hide the supposed corpse under a sofa. Almost immediately afterwards Don Balthazar, father of Carlos (Mr. Warren), enters, and is put to sleep on the; sofa under which is the body of his son before, however, he is left to his repose, a good night of a particularly ominous nature is sung to him by Donna Lucrezia Isabella, Inez, and Docter Paracelsus, in a manner that deservedly brought down the house. Left to himself he is much annoyed by the groans of his son, and as soon as he slumbers soundly, Paracelsus and Inez enter with the intention of removing the corpse. they cut open the sofa, Carlos recovers, and sings an effective air, entitled “ Oh, Where am I. ” The disturbance brings the other characters on the stage. Carlos declares himself the lover of Isabella, is accepted, and a spirited chorus brings the opera to a successful conclusion. It is impossible to
speak in tun hiyii terms of praise of the acting and singing of Miss Beatrice and Mr. Florence; Mr.- • Alexander’s' Paracelsus was excellent, and so was Mr. Marshall's Don IVmrposq; Mr. Warreu, who took the part-of Senor Balthazar at very short notice, did very well, and Mrs. Florence was an immense success as Donna Lucrezia, Miss Jennie Thorne as Isabella being charming, and singing the music allot;ed to her with great effect. The company, we are glad to hear, iptend re-visiting Ashburton on Thursday week, when that very popular opera “ H. M.S. Pinafore’' will be presented.
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