Opera Scotland

Utopia Limited 1894Mr R D'Oyly Carte's Opera Company

Read more about the opera Utopia, Limited

The provincial tour of Utopia Limited was one of the most successful, at least in Scotland, of any Gilbert and Sullivan work. Starting at the end of January, the company spent four weeks in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh. The show returned in the summer for another fortnight in each theatre - seventy performances in all.

As with the London production, the sets and costumes were on a more lavish scale than audiences were accustomed to - the cost being another reason why the work failed to enter the general repertoire.

This cast is from the Glasgow Herald in January.  In addition, C H Workman, who quickly became a leading performer of the comedy 'Grossmith' roles, was here making his debut as Calynx.


A Glasgow Opinion

Glasgow Herald:  Tuesday, 23 January 1894  (P4)

The Theatre - Royalty Utopia, Limited

'The Gondoliers, by Sir Arthur Sullivan and Mr Gilbert, was produced in London in December 1889.  It was the twelfth opera due to the same collaboration, and for a time it seemed as if the baker's dozen would not be reached.  There were misunderstandings in the air, and coldness.  But the air cleared, the old friendly co-operation was resumed, and 7th October last,  Utopia, Limited, was brougt out at the Savoy Theatre, and Sir Arthur and Mr Gilbert thus became qualified for admission to ''The Thirteen Club.''

'It is useless to speculate on what we should have lost in artistic unity and completeness if this accomplished pair had never met, or having parted had remained apart.  Each is master of his art:  together they are unapproachable, and have contributed more than any two men of their time to the refined and intellectual pleasures of the theatre.   In London Utopia, Limited, has had a large measure of success, so far at least as this is attested by crowded houses.  Now the opera has been sent into the provinces, and last evening, for the first time in Scotland,  it was put on the stage of the Royalty Theatre.  The house was crowded in all parts.  While the curtain remained down, the voices of melody in the gallery were hearty, if also inharrmonious.

'When Utopia, Limited, first saw the stage light in London, we indicated at length the nature of the slight, very slight, story, and the way in which it is worked out by librettist and musician.  But many things have happened since the beginning of October,  and brief explanation may not now be amiss.  Utopia, according to Gilbertian geograpphy, is an island in the Pacific, whose King is bullied by a couple of so-called wise men.  They compel his to contribute scandalous paragraphs about himself to the Palace Peeper, and to write a comic opera,  which also grossly libels the nominal wearer of an exceedingly draughty crown.  If he expostulates they threaten to hand him over to the Public Exploder, an official who seeks to qualify himself for his explosive duties by getting someone to assist him in setting free the eruptive qualities of bon-bons.

'As it happens, the King finds deliverance, as certain other crowned heads have done,  through the agency of England.  He is enamoured of the institutions of Albion, and he is also fortunate in having three Princesses of the Royal house.  The chicest of these he sends to Girton.  She returns, bringing with her certain imported ''flowers of progress,'' or representatives of the great and glorious land of freedom.  These imported flowers consist of a captain of the Royal Navy,  a British Lord Chamberlain,  a Promoter of Limited Companies, a Queen's Counsel,  and a member of the London County Council.

'The representative of the Navy is Sir Edward Corcoran, whose introduction is marked by the quotation of the familiar music, (What, never?) from HMS Pinafore, which last night was received with a tumult of applause.  In the second act the galaxy of imported intellect is employed, by exactness and apt suggestion, in re-organising Utopia on English models.  This is certainly the stronger act of the two, both musically and in its humour and satire.  The King and the flowers of progress hold an English Cabinet Council à la the Moore & Burgess Minstrels, at which the King presides, and the flowers, while he sings, handle toy violins, the tambourine, and bones.  This is followed by a Drawing-Room, which is not a burlesque (save as to the kissing by the King of the debutantes), but as nearly as possible a reproduction of the frequently-described and greedily-perused State function.  But the two wise men are not yet subdued.  They declare that Utopia has suffered under English rule, insomuch that there are no longer any law pleas, and the lawyers are eating their old briefs - no longer any crime, and the prisons are being let as lodging-houses - no longer any sickness, and only the doctors themselves are dying.

'The King recognises  this untoward state of affairs, and he appeals to his eldest daughter, the ''sweet, girl graduate'' from Girton.  She puts her finger on the weak spot at once.  What is wanted in Utopia is Government by party, according to which one-half of the servants of the Crown shall occupy themselves in undoing all that their predecessors have done.  In this way, id taxes are remitted and prisons emptied by one section of the Government, the balance will be adjusted by those who follow them imposing duties on everything and everybody, and putting anybody who is left in jail.  And so with Utopia established on a purely English basis, the opera comes to an end.

'With regard to the music of Utopia, our impression after a first interpretation is that it is not on the whole equal to that of The Yeomen of the Guard or The Mikado or Patience.  There are several numbers, such as the langorous opening chorus and the almost unacompanied chorus ''Eagle high on cloudland soaring,''  which are in the best manner of Sir arthur sullivan, and there are concerted pieces of which the same may be said, but, generally speaking, we are inclined to think that the flow of melody is not as even.  The orchestration is scholarly and effective.  Mr Gilbert's work is admirably done, marked by all the subtlety and quaint lopsided logic of former productions of the kind.

'Of the company engaged in the provincial production of the opera, and of the manner in which it is put upon the stage, we can only speak in terms of highest praise.  The heaviest parts are those of the King (Mr J T Macmillan) and the Princess Zara (Miss Isabel Reddick).  Mr Mcmillan will be remembered as the McCrankie of Haddon Hall.  He is an accomplished comedian, who does not borrow but creates, and we need only say that every shade of humour identified with the character he brings out with consummate skill and without effort.  Mr Macmillan is also a capital vocalist, although last night he was not in first-rate voice, and having to use it a good deal in the end he became somewhat husky.  Miss Reddick  laboured under no such disability.  She possesses a sweet, well-trained soprano, fresh and bright as the song of a bird, and her method is sound.  Moreover, she looks the English rose she is supposed to resemble after her residence at Girton.

'Messrs G W Cockburn and Arthur Watts were exceeding droll as the two wise men, Scaphio and Phantis, and the feebleness of the Public Exploder was not attributable to Mr Charles Usher, but to the fact that Mr Gilber has written the character somewhat thinly.  The Princesses Nekaya and Kalyba, two demure little maidens, who discover before the opera is ended a latent talent for fun and mischief, are cleverly enacted by Miss Gertrude Aylward and Miss Florence Hunter.

'The Princess Zara has for escort to Utopia, a stalwart detachment of LifeGuardsmen, headed by Captain Fitzbattleaxe, who makes love to the Princess, and to good purpose.  This character is assigned to Mr John Macauley, a robust tenor, whose highly effective voice was heard in several duets, and in a merry melody, ''A tenor, all singers above,'' whose voice cracks in alt.  Miss Louise Lancaster, mr wilson Sheffield, and Mr Van Rensellar Wheeler may also be mentioned as accomplished principals.  The company is indeed singularly rich in solo voices, and the chorus also is strong.

'As we have already hinted, Utopia has been put on the stage with exceptional fulness with respect to the art of the costumier.  The drawing-room scene is crowded with ladies in flowing robes, which for richness of texture and delicacy of colour are seldom associated with such productions.  The scenery also is new and appropriate, and spreading palms and blushiing tulips, which owe nothing to the devices of the property-man, make pleasant brightness and coolness in the Throne-Room.

'The opera was received last night with enthusiasm.  The leading members were encored, and at the end of the first act almost the whole company were brought to the front.   The success of Utopia, limited, may thus be said to have been unlimited.'


A Brief Edinburgh Perspective

Edinburgh Evening News:  Tuesday, 12 February 1895  (p2)

Utopia, Limited, at the Lyceum Theatre

'Utopia, Limited, is the opera mounted this week by Mr D'Oyly Carte's Company at the Lyceum Theatre.  The performance last evening confirmed first impressions that Utopia, Limited, is Gilbert & Sullivan, Limited.  The slow inaction of the first act is doubly felt as the interest dwindles down to the vagaries of the King, and while the second act brightens up matters,  it is really a case of personal values, on thhe part of the performers, before the audience can be sent home in a pleasant frame of mind.

'King Cold has disputed away with King Paramount successfully, and the company in consequence are appearing as the subjects mostly of the former than of the latter.  Mr Crosby Hopps, in place of Mr Macauley,  made his debut as Fitzbattleaxe with fair vocal success.  His acting is weak.  Mr Lytton revels in the part of the King, and Miss Kate Talby was in excellent voice.  There was a large audience last evening.'


In October, a small-scale 'A' company also toured. This involved soloists augmenting the small chorus as required, and piano accompaniment. See separate note.

Performance Cast

Princess Nekaya Second Daughter of King Paramount

Gertrude Aylward (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Princess Kalyba Youngest Daughter of King Paramount

Florence Hunter (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Scaphio a Judge of the Utopian Supreme Court

Mr G W Cockburn (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Phantis a Judge of the Utopian Supreme Court

Arthur Watts (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Tarara the Public Exploder

Charles Usher (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Calynx the Utopian Vice-Chamberlain

Charles Workman (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Lady Sophy an English Gouvernante

Louise Lancaster (Jan, Feb, Mar)

King Paramount the First King of Utopia

Mr J T MacMillan (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Henry Lytton (Feb 11)

Princess Zara Eldest Daughter of King Paramount

Isabel Reddick (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Captain FitzBattleaxe First Life Guards

John Macauley (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Crosby Hopps (Feb 11)

Mr Goldbury a Company Promoter, later Comptroller of Utopian Household

Wilson Sheffield (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Performance DatesUtopia Limited 1894

Map List

Royalty, Glasgow | Glasgow

29 Jan, 19.30 30 Jan, 19.30 31 Jan, 19.30 1 Feb, 19.30 2 Feb, 19.30 3 Feb, 14.00 3 Feb, 19.00 5 Feb, 19.30 6 Feb, 19.30 7 Feb, 19.30 8 Feb, 19.30 9 Feb, 19.30 10 Feb, 14.00 10 Feb, 19.00 12 Feb, 19.30 13 Feb, 19.30 14 Feb, 19.30 15 Feb, 19.30 16 Feb, 19.30 17 Feb, 14.00 17 Feb, 19.00 19 Feb, 19.30 20 Feb, 19.30 21 Feb, 19.30 22 Feb, 19.30 23 Feb, 19.30 24 Feb, 14.00 24 Feb, 19.00 16 Jul, 19.30 17 Jul, 19.30 18 Jul, 19.30 19 Jul, 19.30 20 Jul, 19.30 21 Jul, 14.00 21 Jul, 19.00 23 Jul, 19.30 24 Jul, 19.30 25 Jul, 19.30 26 Jul, 19.30 27 Jul, 19.30 28 Jul, 14.00 28 Jul, 19.00

Royal Lyceum Theatre | Edinburgh

26 Feb, 19.30 27 Feb, 19.30 28 Feb, 19.30 1 Mar, 19.30 2 Mar, 19.30 3 Mar, 14.00 3 Mar, 19.30 5 Mar, 19.30 6 Mar, 19.30 7 Mar, 19.30 8 Mar, 19.30 9 Mar, 19.30 10 Mar, 14.00 10 Mar, 19.30 30 Jul, 19.30 31 Jul, 19.30 1 Aug, 19.30 2 Aug, 19.30 3 Aug, 19.30 4 Aug, 14.00 4 Aug, 19.00 6 Aug, 19.30 7 Aug, 19.30 8 Aug, 19.30 9 Aug, 19.30 10 Aug, 19.30 11 Aug, 14.00 11 Aug, 19.00

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