Opera Scotland

Gondoliers 1914D'Oyly Carte Opera Company

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This D'Oyly Carte Tour Coincides with the Outbreak of War - August 1914 

This Scottish tour began with a week in Edinburgh from 3 August, followed by two weeks in Glasgow from 10 August. A week in Aberdeen followed, starting  24 August. The Dundee week commencing Monday 31 August was the final leg. As usual the main D'Oyly Carte touring company had visited the four cities with commercially successful results. Clearly, with war breaking out during the course of the tour, it would be expected that audiences were in need of cheering up.


Dundee Preview

Dundee Advertiser: Friday, 28 August 1914

The D'Oyly Carte Visit

'That hardy annual, the D'Oyly Carte Company, is due on Monday first at Her Majesty's with the most delightful repertory of Gilbert and Sullivan operas.   The times are parlous, but we may be excused if we seek a little solace during “wars and rumours of wars” in an evening spent in such pleasant company as a Savoy production.   Fred Billington, Henry A Lytton, Leicester Tunks, Clara Dow, Beatrice Boarer, Louie René, all well-known artistes in light opera, are still to the fore, and playing with all the advantage of increased experience,  while newcomers in Dewey Gibson, James Hay (two excellent tenors) and Frederick Hobbs are still to make their bow to Dundonians in these works.   The company is greatly pleased with its Scotch tour (concluding here), and, despite the war has been rewarded with fine houses right through.   Mr Walter Hann conducts an augmented orchestra.'


A Dundee Review

Dundee Advertiser: Tuesday, 1 September 1914          

Her Majesty's Theatre - The Gondoliers

 'If there be one thing more than another which distinguishes The Gondoliers in any way from those other stars which make up the glorious firmament of Gilbert-Sullivan opera, it's the perfect poetic beauty of its diction.  One of the latest of the series, it displays pre-eminent lyrical gifts both of author and composer.  And should there be any materialist unimpressed by such a testimonial, let him remember that The Gondoliers is above all others the money maker among the operas.  The Gondoliers is golden therefore in more senses than one, and no other word can be applied to its representation by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company yesterday evening.  The performance to which Dundee was treated was perfection's self, and an audience which filled every part of the theatre listened with the attention which every lover of Gilbert-Sullivan opera learns to bestow, and, most pleasing of all, the applause was not only very enthusiastic, but always at the right place.

'Of the play it is not necessary to speak.  And what shall we say of the players?  Only that they were excellent every one - and, as the irresistible Duke would exclaim, each one happier than the other - if that were possible.  The Duke of Plaza-Toro has long since ceased to be a mere character of the stage.  With his great and high and mighty mightyness the Grand Inquisitor - who does his quizzing most quizzically - he is an institution like Falstaff or Uncle Toby.  He does not swallow interminable bottles of sack, neither does he dig innumerable trenches, but he mouths such sentences as have made him famous.  It was said of the French Kings that they would rather make an epigram than win a great war.  Such is the Duke of Plaza-Toro, Limited, in band and suite en attendant.  The Inquisitor, when the outburst of applause that greeted his appearance had died away, set the house in fits of laughter with his first chuckle.  Truly Mr Lytton and Mr Billington have much to answer for in the realm of sore sides and laughter uncontrolled. Many a man has Mr Billington wished he could "tuck in his tuppenny" when you appear, but are remorseless.  We are as the dame in the "tortuar chamber" in the illustrated papers.  There is no escape from your mirth, and we are your happy prisoners.

'To Mr Frederick Hobbs, who played the part of Luiz; to Mr Dewey Gibson, who with Mr Tunks made an admirable King, we must own immediate fealty.  These new members of the company are worthy of their places.  The first words of “Take a pair of sparkling eyes,” as sung by Mr Gibson, thrilled the whole house, and his was one of the triumphs of the evening.  Mr Hobbs is a very fine actor, and his elocution is excellent.  Mr Tunks is his usual joyous self, and there is an old Scotch proverb associated with a chimney and smoke which we may explain to him should he desire to know just what Dundee thinks of him.

'Miss Clara Dow is, in our opinion, the finest leading lady the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company has ever had.  This is no exaggeration, but a statement of our plain convictions.  She has a splendid singing voice, the clearest enunciation, great powers as an actress, infinite grace and delicacy of movement and expression, and throughout all a sympathy with her part which rejoices the heart of every critic.  We shall hope to see her to even greater effect on Friday evening, but yesterday, in the second act especially, it was difficult to find words to praise her performance.  Miss Beatrice Boarer adds a delicious piquancy to every opera in which she plays, and with Miss Hilda Cross, a very admirable Gianetta, she got a very large share of the appreciation of the audience.  Miss Louie Rene was again a dignified Duchess, and all the other members of the company were just what we have learned to expect of D'Oyly Carte opera.

'The music was specially good.  The orchestra was under excellent command, and at points like the song “Ah me! you men,” and the recital of the muse it was admirably subdued. Throughout it never forgot that an orchestra is essentially an accompaniment, and not a noise between the audience and the stage, as many orchestras are.  The chorus work was very fine. Never a false quantity was heard.  The whole performance was indeed one of the best seen in Dundee.  The Gondoliers has never had finer presentation. To-night The Mikado will be performed.'


The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's Scottish Tour - 1914

The operas performed were:  Patience Iolanthe Princess Ida;  The Mikado;  The Yeomen of the Guard;  The Gondoliers.

The repertoire for the week was:

Dundee, w/c 31 August:   Mon 31 The Gondoliers;  Tue 1 Sep The Mikado;  Wed 2 Patience,  Thu 3 Princess Ida;  Fri 4 The Yeomen of the Guard;  Sat 5 mat Iolanthe;   Sat 6 eve The Mikado.

The cast is as reviewed in the Dundee Advertiser.

Additional dates for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen to be confirmed.

Performance Cast

Marco Palmieri a Venetian Gondolier

Dewey Gibson (Aug 31)

Giuseppe Palmieri a Venetian Gondolier

Leicester Tunks (Aug 31)

Tessa a Contadina

Beatrice Boarer (Aug 31)

Gianetta a Contadina

Hilda Cross (Aug 31)

Duke of Plaza-Toro a Grandee of Spain

Henry Lytton (Aug 31)

Duchess of Plaza-Toro

Louie René (Aug 31)

Casilda daughter of the Duke and Duchess

Clara Dow (Aug 31)

Luiz the Duke's Attendant

Frederick Hobbs (Aug 31)

Don Alhambra del Bolero the Grand Inquisitor

Fred Billington (Aug 31)

Production Cast


Walter Hann (Aug 31)

Performance DatesGondoliers 1914

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

31 Aug, 19.30

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