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NOTES BY PASQUIN., Otago Witness, Issue 1885, 6 January 1888
NOTES BY PASQUIN.
The management of the Carrie Swain Company made a mistake in not opening in "The Tomboy," instead of "The Miner's Daughter." There was no standing room below stairs, and very few vacant seats in the dress circle of the Princess Theatre on Monday night, when Miss Carrie Swain appeared for the first time in the latter role. There was no necessity at all for the audience to be informed that this piece was specially written for this particular actress. The fact is obvious all through, and to the credit of the diamatist it may be said that he could .scarcely have put together anything better calculated to show off the cleverness and volatility of the star. In «-The Tomboy," as in "The Miner's Daughter," Miss Swain is shockheaded, soarllingly free of movement and glib of t jnguc, and — it is needless to add — wonderf ally " taking "in everything she does. Her singing, too, was in its way a revelation. That she possessed a voice of flexibility and excellent compass was apparent before, bat her rare skill in using it was naver fully shown until she sang "The Tyrolean Maid " in the fourth act of this piece, fairly astonishing the audience by what were vocal tricks, but tricks that few vocalists could ever hope to accomplish. It is well that the action and the fun of "The Tomboy" does not flag throughout five acts and that Miss Swain's vivacity is so well sustained, because the opportunities given to other members of the company are very small for the most part. There is no temptation to narrate the plot of such a piece as this because every spectator must feel that the plot is altogether immaterial and that the piece amuses irrespective of any connected story. There is a story of course, but one so improbable as to be almost laughable. In •' Patience," Mr Reginald Bunthorne's verse is pronounced by a sensible little critic to be nonsense, and the aesthetic maidens respond *' But oh, what precious nonsense I " Similirly"The Tomboy" is nonsense, butnon8 3nse wholesomely flavoured, well served, and therefore very palatable. Miss Swain once more appears as a girl unnurtured, daring in speech and gesture, full of animal spirits, but possessing also generous impulses and a t iserve of honest tenderness. In every phase of the character she is good. Mr Leake, as wily Uncle Robert, a schemer, who hoaxes his 1)1 md sister-in-law and plans to remove off-hand all obstructions to his own pecuniary designs, has a queer and decidedly not a life-like part to play, and plays it well. Miss Fergus and Mr Bryant, as his accomplices, also get what they can in the way of repulsiveness out of their respective characters— although it is evident enough that the male adventurer 13 more fool than knave. Miss Bronton, as the blind Mrs Cobb, had to be lachrymose and more or less stilted, and she acquitted herself well of an awkward task. Neither Mr Forde, as Burns, a mechanic, uor Mr Leopold, as the fussy lawyer, who always likes to "start right," had much scope for the display of that humour which thoy both possess, but they played carefully; and Mr D'Orsay Ogden in a very small part a°uin showed himself a character actor of marked ability. The mention of this gentleman reminds us that there was a second star in the person of "Baby Ogden," a child of some four summers, whose clever acting and delightful appearance brought down the bouse several times. Miss Swain did not seem to be jealous of her diminutive rival— nuite the contrary— but if Baby Ogden thrives and perseveres she may make people fealous yet 20 years hence or less. "The Tomboy " will probably hold the stage for the rest g£ the season. The Carrie Swain company finish their Bunedin season in the middle of next week (a classic phrase), and leave for Timaru and Christchurch. Our next attraction will be Mr George Leitch's company, who follow them with Sims' " Harbour Lights." _ MiNelson Decker, with the successful American drama " Held by the Enemy," will be along shortly afterwards. The Greenwood Family, clever as they are, Slave somehow not managed to do any business at all in Dunedin. I wish them better luck elsewhere. At the last concert of the series, given on Monday evening, they were assisted by a double quartette of Dunedin vocalists—viz., Messrs Chirm, Umbers, Hunter, Jones, Smith, Arbuckle, Ibbotson, and Denjjem. These gentlemen sang Abt's «♦ Evening 1 " and Kucken's " The Rhine." Edwin Booth and Lawrence Barrett have foraied a dramatic partnership, and will, among other enterprises, jointly manage a theatre in New York on the plan of the London Lyceum. Mr Fun-on-the-Bristol Sheridan has entired into partnership with Charles Lauri fchs younger (a noted impersonator of quadrupeds), to run the Opera Comique, London. They have begun badly with a sequel to " Fun on the Bristol," called " Bridget O'Brien," in which Mr Sheridan, of course, continues the adventures of his widow. But continuations are generally disappointing, and this is no ■exception to the rule. The inquiry into the Opera Comique disaster in Paris has been no mere perfunctory business. 'The report sets forth that the fire was communicated to the side scenes by a gas pendant which had been placed in an unusual and improper position. The fireman on duty at that point could, however, have easily put out the fire before it spread had his attention just then not been directed to the stage instead or" to his duties. A similar responsibility is laid on the sergeant of the fire brigade, who failed to act with promptness on discovering the fire. Manager Carvalho is held responsible for the arrangement of the gas jets, and also for not having^ a properly organised fire service. The chief machinist is blamed for his neglect to lower the iron drop curtain, and the manager and architect are both censured for 5 the bad condition of the dressing rooms. To Carvalho, the manager, the result has been serious. He loses bis position and gains three months' imprisonment, besides being called on to make compensation ito the sufferers. The father of little Josef Hofmann, the - boy pianist, is to he paid £5000 for the child's Aowncaa tour, and. will then wMfo&ftw him
from- public life for a few years. Critics declare that from what we can learn of the feats of Mozarfc and Liszt at Hofmann's age, they must have been mere, outsiders in comparison. Jenny Lind had at times the most pithy sentences in the tip of her pen. " Inspiration, taste, and sentiment," she wrote from Malvern Hill to a friend not long before her death, "are the Holy Trinity of music." " The greatest artist," she wrote in the album of Christine Nilsson, "is the one who leaves the most souvenirs." Now that the great cantatrice is dead, gossip concerning her is rife. It is said that long before she became Madame Goldschmidt she received an offer of marriage from Dean Stanley. The dean's parents, Bishop Stanley, of Norwich,' and Lady Stanley, were very much in favour of the match, but the Swedish Nightingale, for some reason or other, declined the honour. Among the hundreds of stories about Jennie Lind's kindness of heart and charity, the following has not come into publicity: — After her return to England from America, where she had married Otto Goldschmidt, her husband was cruelly and unjustly libelled by a certain London newspaper, until the diva, in self-defence, brought a libel suit, and recovered £2000 damages. The libel being disproved, and her husband's honour established, she secretly returned, the money to the libeller. It was by an accident, and many years afterwards, that her husband and her lawyer became aware of this fact.
A certain rivalry, largely fostered by the press, has sprung up between Mrs Langbry and the new society actress, Mrs BrownPotter. The returns of the first week of their respective seasons in New York are published, and come out thus : — Mrs Langtry, 18,764d01 ; Mrs Potter, 13,131d01. The two beauties are to be pitted against, each other again in Philadelphia. The sale of the American rights of Sardou's new play to Miss Fanny Davenport came near causing serious trouble at the Porte St. Martin Theatre. It seems that Sarah Bernhardt wished to purchase the American rights herself, and to have them stand in the name of her agent, Maurice Grau. So indignant did she become on hearing that Miss Davenport had bought the play that she threatened to throw up her contract for its production at the Porte St. Martin. Sardou and Duquesnel, however, between them, managed to pacify the angry lady, and the rehearsals of "La Tosca" (the new piece) are being pushed forward actively. M. Sardou, by the way, has an excellent opinion of himself and his work. To a would-be purchaser who remarked that the price was high for a play that was as yet unacted, he made answer :—" After the first performance I shall ask twice as much if it still remains unsold." "And what if it is a failure, M. Sardou ?" " There is no fear of that," made answer the triumphant author, calmly ignoring the fact that his last two pieces— "Georgette" and "Le Crocodile" — were total failures, and that his " Theodora " has never been a sucess when given with any other actress than Bernhardt in the titlG role.
A new dma fide American comic opera is about to be produced at Chicago. It is entitled " Marcella," and it is by Mr G-. B. Brigham, formerly baritone of Miss Lillian Russell's Opera Company. According to the Chicago Indicator, the first act of "Marcella" opens with a picnic scene of salesladies and drapers' shopmen. Lennox Browne tells a' good story of an eminent teacher in Milan, who is reported to have said to his pupils : " Breathe through your bones, inflate your bones," and "although for ordinary purposes people breathe with their lungs, for singing purposes you must breathe with your stomach." The Italian might have been a good voice trainer, but he was not strong on physiology.
NOTES BY PASQUIN., Otago Witness, Issue 1885, 6 January 1888
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