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Once again we have Mr Martin Simonsen among us with an operatic company, which is a matter on which lovers of music may fairly congratulate themselves, although it must be confessed that the company is not nearly so strong as the combinations which Mr Simonsen has previously brought to these shores. On comparing these our latest visitors with their predecessors we find a falling-off in strength of orchestra, in choral power, in vocal ability among the principals, and also in the stage appointments. Still, with all these comparative imperfections, the present company are probably capable of giving really enjoyable performances, although they did not as a whole show to great advant ;ge last night, when the season commencea. The opera selected for the occasion was that bright and tuneful work 'Maritana,' and the cast was as follows:—Maritana, MissElsa May ; Lazarill, Miss Florence Seymour; Don Csiar de Bazan, Mr W. Walshe ; Don Josd, Mr W. Gainor; King of Spain, Mr F. England ; Marquis, Mr G. Dean ; Marchioness, Miss Julia Beaumont; Alcadi, Mr C. Raynor; and Captain of the Guard, Mr F. Sceats, It will be seen that most of the principals are strangers to us ; but the leading lady—Miss Elsa May—is a thoroughly established favorite here, and, on her entry in the opening scene, she received a veryjhearty greeting. Miss May has since she was last in Dunedin developed even increased attractiveness in both singing and acting, her voice last evening being remarkably clear and fresh, while the manner in which she filled the part of the gipsy girl was full of charm. Her principal vocal triumphs were achieved in the lovely aria ' Tis the harp in the air,' which was beautifully sung, although the audience did not award the amount of approbation that it deserved, and in the familiar ballad ' Scenes that are brightest,' her excellent rendering of which did receive its due reward in the shape of an enthusiastic encore. Miss May's portions of the various pretty concerted pieces in which she took part—the duet ' Sainted mother' with Lazarillo, the scene commencing 'Oh, Maritana' with Don Csaar, and others—were also all done full justice to. If the rest of the principals could but sing as well as Miss May, the task of criticising their qualifications would be an agreeable one; but unfortunately the prima donna stands in a vocal sense head and shoulders above her present supporters. Miss Seymour, for instance, was quite overburdened in the part of Lazarillo, her principal qualification to assume which being a good stage presence. ' Alas, those chimes !' certainly gained an encore, which is somewhat singular, for it has probably never been sung worse in Dunedin. Mr Walshe made a rather favorable impression as the rollicking, high-spirited Don Creaar, his voice sympathetic, though rather thin. He got through that trying air ' Let me like a soldier fall' with much credit, and fully deserved the hearty encore that was awarded it. His singing of the popular air 1 There is a flower that bloometh' was also highly appreciated. Mr Gainor has a tolerably good baritone voice, and an evidently well cultivated ear, so that the music falling to the lot of Don Jose" was sure to be rendered in an acceptable manner. He is especially to be commended for his singing of the airs 'Now my courage' and 'Of fairy wand.' Mr England's voice is of medium calibre, and told with fair effect in the scena ' Bear me, gentle Maritana,' but his style is somewhat crude. Mr Dean was very humorous in the part of the Morquis, and was well supported by Miss Beaumont as his lady, while the parts of the Alcade and the Captain of the Guard were also fairly filled. The orchestra, though small, did its work in good style under the able conductorship of Mr Harcourt Lee, and some of the choruses went well. ' Maritana' is to be repeated this evening, while on Thursday ' Madame Angot' will be produced.

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Bibliographic details

THE OPERA., Evening Star, Issue 7913, 22 May 1889

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THE OPERA. Evening Star, Issue 7913, 22 May 1889