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PRODUCTION OF "FAUST" IN MELBOURNE.

The following criticism of this important musical event will be read with interest :—

The first performance at the Princess* Theatre of, Gounod's " Faust," which took place last Saturday evening, attracted an audience so numerous as to fill every part of the theatre, not a seat being vacant notwithstanding the increased price of admission. The production may be looked upon, in the light of an experiment, which, if not altogether successful from some points of view, has at least proved what may be core by clever stage management, beautiful scenery and correct and handsome costumes and appointments. Ha\'ing once witnessed the present presentation of "Faust" at tbs Princess' Theatre, the public will never again tolerate the careless and inartistic methods of placing the eperaonthestage that have hitherto passed muster,, and the result will probably be to oblige operatic raauagers in future to considerably raise the standard of efficiency in the production of legitimate opera. The cast on Saturday was as follows:—Miss Nellie Stewart appeared as Marguerite, Miss Fannie Liddiard asSiebel, Miss Alice Barnett as Martha, Mr Leumane as Faust, Mr Knight Aston as Valentine, and Mr Federici as Mephistopheles. Miss Stewart decidedly carried off the honours among the vocalists, surprising everyone by the excellence of her.sjnging and her appropriate and sometimes powerful acting. Although her voice "has scarcely resonance enough it is sweet in quality, dhd' "she retains it in full power to the conclusion of the opera. Mr Jleuaiane may also be mentioned as having succeeded beyond expectation in the aiduous'roZe of Faust, the only drawback to his sneress being the euforced omission of the high C in thecavatina. Miss Liddiard iooked well in her page's attire, and gave a fairly efficient rendering of her music The assignment of the part of Martha to Miss Burnett must be considered a decided mistake, not because she docs not sustain it in a satisfactory manner, bat because the assumption of a female character in legitimate opera by a lady whose height exceeds _at of the male characters imparts a very undesirable impression of burlesque. On Saturday evening Mr Knierht Aston's performance was somewhat dis* appointing through a flatness of intonation, probably as painful to himself as to his auditors, no doubt the result of constant rehearsal. On subsequent evenings he regained command of his voice, singing very acceptably and giving an impressive rendering of the death scene. The tragic and appalling occurrence of the sudden decease of Mr Federici from heart disease at the conclusion of the performance will be fresh in the memory of all, and must conmiaad universal sympathy and regret, Mr Federici achieved considerable success both in England and 'America in comic opera, but he was also an excellent musician and the composer of several songs of more than average merit, «nd before his association with comic opera, had successfully appeared as a vocalist at some of the best concerts |n London, including the Monday popular Concerts at St. James's Hall, It Seems art act almost of irreverence to criticise the performance of au actor who aasoniy iu-t been carried to his grave, aevertheiess, it is oalv his due and his proper tribute to say that he both saug tad acted on Saturday night in a truly artistic manner, and that he has never heea seen to "greater advantage than he »as on that occasion. His death created Aterrihle feeling of consternation, first in toe eoaipanv, with whom be had but a few fciautes before been in association, and "wxt, of course, in the public mind. The iadieace knew of the occurrence, for his death Jook place actully beneath W" stage, after-he arul Mr Leumane had Msceuded thrAfcgb the trap. It was one « those many tragedies which have happened in connection with the history of the stage, audit will not soon be torgotton. Ihe theatre was closed on Monday evening ont of respect to the memory of thedeceasea artist. On Tuesday and each subsequent |^ cn ,tng Faust was again performed, Mr ***- Clair taking the part of Mephistopheles *t a few hours notice. The management •hay consider themselves most fortunate to having been able to secure the services ol a gentleman competent to undertake so ™portant a role with only a few hours for Preparation. Mr St, Clair proved himself actor and vocalist, receiving ?"i«i applause and being called before the g*"S&in, together with Miss Nellie o*ew_rt and Mr Leumane. The scenery, £**_*d by Mr Gordon, has never been fussed for beauty and tnithfvlness of _*«' ans * fcbe —-diajval costumes worn nw_r? wn ether principal? or chorus, are S-r-*_ o£ co - -cfc design and skilful :«aauj_ct_ce. The orchestra and chorus

were both augmented, and Gounod s superb instrumentation-was heard for the first time with all the requisite instruments. The scene at the fountain, and the spinning song that follows, at thecommencement of the fourth act, which have hitherto been omitted in representation, are restored, and a transposition of scenes effected in the same act, the cathedral scene preceding the death of Valentine, a more effective finale being thus secured.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP18880329.2.9

Bibliographic details

PRODUCTION OF "FAUST" IN MELBOURNE., Press, Volume XLV, Issue 7025, 29 March 1888

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843

PRODUCTION OF "FAUST" IN MELBOURNE. Press, Volume XLV, Issue 7025, 29 March 1888

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