MUSICAL. AIN I) DRAMAtIC
A New South Wales pressman says : — George Stephenson is one of the most'genuine fellows in the managerial sphere today ; and if ever entrepreneur had a warm heart, the honest-faced Maorilander has. I. was standing outside the Lyceum one ./teak, wintry night last week, and saw a poor, crippled woman on crutches, accompanied by her little daughter, shivering in the cold whilst open-mouth«_ly gazing at the playbill. G.S. also saw the pair, and with commendable consideration asked the mother if she would like to see the .how. Well, you should have seen the pair's eyes glisten! An afSrmative answer, and the young manager had them, ushered into the best available seats in the stalls. A monetary present to ths cripple added to a kindly and thoughtful action. An interesting theatrical suit was settled in London on May 9 (writes a correspb.t.- I dent in the Sydney " Bulletin ") . In 1893, Mdme Trebelli-Bettini died, , leaving her money and jewels to the Royal Academy of Music. Her daughter — Mdlle Antoinette Charlotte Alexandrina Zelie Bettini contested the will, but lost the "case, and was ordered to deliver to defendants the jewellery, of which she had taken possession. **The' defiant damsel fled, however, , to South Africa, and has toured that country and Australia ever since. The matter haa at last been compromised by the now Mdme Dolores * paying £1000 to the R.A.M., and all is peace again. The sweet-throated Dolores has had lucrative offers to sing in England, which she will now accept. ....... How many of those who pay for their entrance to the " pit " have any idea of the origin or "meaning of the word? A contributor to "Notes and Queries" gives this explanation :— When the early Lon don players were forced out of the innyards they removed across the river and erected permanent playhouses on the model of the neighbouring amphitheatres, where bulls- and bears had long been baited. But the stages still remained easily removable, as in the inn-yards, so that, when the drama was temporarily under a cloud, the centre of interest could be transferred to the ground floor, which became a cock-pit or a bear-pit for the time being. The cocks, bulls, and bears have long since left theatrical London, but the "pit" remains. In an article published in a. recent* number of the. "Monde Artiste," Mdme George Herwegh, the wife of the German poet of that name, givse. her impression of Wagner, whom as a man sh© describes- as the incarnation of vanity* -selfishness, and heartlessness. But the laiSy, in referring to the first performance of "Rheingold," in lo_*4, declares that those who saw the. little man with the hooked nose and the old woman's chin sit down to the piano to go through the opera by himself completely lost sight of his strange appearance, and only the man of genius remained before them. It is stated that ths melody of the song known as "Auld Bobin Gray* ' was composed ninety-two years ago, by the Rev W. Leeves, rector of Wrigton, Somersetshire, and published in »a book of sacred airs, ai copy of which is now in the Bodleian Library. The Scotch, however, appear to have" purloined the tune, so says a musical I writer, " to . dignify' the paltry verses of 'Auld Robin Gray,' thus degrading the English clergyman's music to the wretched dialect spoken north of the Tweed." The rescue* of this beautiful tune fi*om its "degrading" surroundings has, it seems, recently been effected by the rector of Stockton, Warwickshire, who has readapted.it to church use. London "Punch" is seriously alarmed- at the phenomenal increase of musical critics, and proposes the following examination paper, which all aspirants to that responsible office must pass: — 1. Explain who were (a) the Bonn Master, (b) the Bajreuth Colossus, (c) the unfortunate Brabantian nobleman. 2. Distinguish between Johann : and, Richard Strauss; Brahms and Braham*,
Cesar Franc and Cesar Cvi, and state the nationalities of Grieg, Ondricek, Siloti, Campobello, Broccolini. Ternina and Giulio Perkins. 3. Did Gluck writ. "Orphee aux Enfers"? 4. Account for the strange fact that the same pianist has supplied more than one firm of pianoforte manuf act_r_rs with testimonials stating that their instruments were superior to all others. 5. Who observed of an inferior performer that he played the easiest passages with the greatest difficulty ? » Here is a good etory retailed, by a wellknown American actor (says " The New York dipper"). A "heavy man," whose natural humour inclined him more to comedy than, to the line of parts he was pourtraying, waa condemned to meet the dramatic fate of all bad men in melodrama — death during the last act. Two soldiers in the play were assigned to shoot him, but, unfortunately for the- progress of the scene, both gruna missed fire-. The "heavy man," however, proved equal to the embarrassing situation, for Lis death was the cue for thf climax, and it had to take place. Gasping for breath, and clutching his coat in the. region of his heart, he dramatically cried oub : " I die ! shot by an invisible air gun ! But with my dying breath I curse the niggardly Government that does not supply its soldiers with more substantial ammunition !" and, with a last gasp and an acrobatic'fall, the heavy man finished his part of the performance amidst cheers from the front, and hearty laughs of appreciation from the wings. It is not often that an artist heralded by ; such a flourish of trumpets as preceded Mr j Watkin Mills realises anticipations to the I full, but the eminent English basso has j certainly proven that ihis capabilities! were nob in the least exaggerated (remarks a Sydney contemporary). Mr Mills is.' undoubtedly a great art.st, and his singing, an education for amateurs. His voice is full and round, and he possesses a* remarkable range — he claims that when " fully extended " he can cover two and a half octave's — while his vocalism is altogether free; from any of the objectionable tricks which form so prominent a feature in many of the preeent-day " school." Another commendable trait of our distinguished visitor is the good taste displayed in th© selection of his items. Mr Mills evidently realises that there is a big proportion of concert goers who prefer high-class ballads in English te Italian. French cr German numbers, and he has the good sense to adapt his contributions accordingly. A' writer in the "Pall Mall Magazine" gives the following vivid impression of a visit to His Majesty's 'ilheatre: — The modern theatre behind the magic of the footlights resembles the sound and fury of a factory. Hundreds of men, literally hundreds, move swiftly along the corridors, run utj and down the stairs, gather in knots behind the scenery, and apnea, and disappear through dooTs that aie never still. An automatic lift is. for ever ascending and descending the six or seven floors of this gigantic theatre. Electric 'bells are for ever ringing impatiently in the several rooms of the management. The clatter of the typewriter sounds down all the corridor... Clerks of 'both sexes, with ledgers under their arm. and pens behind their ears, .move hurriedly from floor to floor. .Servants in scarlet aud gold rub elbows with breathless call-boys, cynical supers, lady typists, dressers in shirt-sleeves, perspiring sceneshifters, poets-, dramatists, secretaries, newspaper men, and the actors a,nd actresses in their bewildering costumes. Natives of Australia who adopt the profession of entertaining the public find a marked difference in climate on visiting New Zealand in the winter. .Singers* -especially suffer, and for some weeks are very much out of voice. This is the condition! of things -frith a number of the singers in the companies now entertaining C-.rist-cluiTch audiences, but of course it will be only temporary, and the difficulty will disappear with time, and a day or two of warmer Miss Hilda Lane, the soprano of the company at the Christchurch Theatre Royal, is finding the New Zealand winter just a little trying to her voice, but feels herself improving ev->ry day. This is her first visit to New Zealand, and she has made a very favourable impression as a soprano. Her voice can hardly be judged at present, but she shows a rich middle register, aiid she sings artistically and with feeling. She has not been long in the profession, having made her first appearance with Miss Alice Hollander's company, and she chose the profession solely out of love for n_u*-ic, in which she is a great enthusiast. Miss Lane has an excellent stage presence, and already hers is a popular name on. the pro- j gramme at the Theatre Royal.
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Star, Star, Issue 8071, 25 July 1904
THE THEATRE. Star, Issue 8071, 25 July 1904
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