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From The Times, Tuesday, October 11, 1881.

Mr. D’Oyly Carte’s new theatre at Beaufort-buildings, Strand, was opened with great éclat last night. A large and distinguished audience filled the house to the last seat, and the proceedings before and behind the curtain were carried on in the animated spirit of a first night. This impression was further enhanced by the presence of Mr. Sullivan, who presided over the first appearance of Patience in its new home, as he had done over its production at the Opera Comique some months ago. Of its success in these new surroundings there can be little doubt. Although 169 performances of the “æsthetic” opera have already been given, its attractiveness has continued such that reserved seats had to be secured weeks beforehand, and the frequent disappointments thus caused have, no doubt, been among the reasons for its removal to a roomier theatre.

At the same time, the stage of the Savoy is not unduly large for the purposes of comic opera, and the subtleties and witty points of Mr. Gilbert’s humorous words and Mr. Sullivan’s clever music were relished as much as ever last night. The piece, which has been restudied under the superintendence of poet and composer, was gone through without a hitch, the new scenery being, in most respects, equal to that previously in use. Although slight alterations have been made in the caste (sic), the principal characters remain in the same competent hands. Mr. Grossmith, as Bunthorne, is as grotesquely picturesque as ever, and the complacent condescension with which Mr. Rutland Barrington, his handsome brother bard, accepts the homage of the love-sick maidens has lost nothing of its humour. Miss Leonora Braham continues to charm as the pretty milkmaid, and the ample form and heroic style of Miss A. Barnett are even more impressive in their wider sphere of action. The minor parts are satisfactorily filled, and the chorus has been enlarged to suit altered circumstances, in spite of the reiterated statement, which limits the number of “æsthetic” ladies to 20.

The main architectural and decorative features of the new theatre have been fully described in The Times on a former occasion. The favourable impression previously recorded was fully confirmed last night when the blaze of light and a well-dressed audience added to the brightness of the scene. Comfort and cheerfulness – befitting the home of comic opera – have evidently been the guiding motives of Messrs. Collinson and Lock, the decorators. Sombre hues and deep-toned colours have been purposely avoided, the prevailing tints being delicate gold (which should not have been limited to the balustrade of the first tier) and white. The dark blue of the stalls and the dull red of the wall paper tend to prevent the impression of glaringness, and the general effect is, upon the whole, harmonious, although not strikingly beautiful. It may be said that if a colourist would not have designed such a combination of tints, even a fastidious colourist will at least find nothing seriously to object to.

An important feature of the decoration is the curtain, a splendid piece of satin drapery, which would be improved by the removal of the emblems of comedy somewhat crudely painted thereon. The trial of the electric light may, upon the whole, be pronounced satisfactory. The arrangements not being perfect, gas was used on the stage, but the auditorium was lighted exclusively by “incandescent lamps.” Occasional sudden changes from light to darkness showed that the machinery was not as yet under perfect control, but it is hoped that this defect will be remedied in a few days. It will also be desirable to change the white globes for others of a yellow tinge.

To sum up, the new theatre may be called a decided success. It is admirably adapted for its purpose, its acoustic qualities are excellent, and all reasonable demands of comfort and of taste are complied with.


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