Opera Scotland

Mikado 1906D'Oyly Carte Principal Repertoire Company

Read more about the opera Mikado

The D'Oyly Carte Principal Repertoire Company in 1906 took a substantial range of G & S operettas round Scotland.

The two week season in Dundee (Her Majesty's Theatre) covered Christmas and included a list of nine works.  The Sorcerer was in the current repertoire but excluded on this occasion.  Ruddigore would not return to circulation for a further fifteen years.  Utopia Limited and The Grand Duke had swiftly been dropped and would not be seen again.

The works performed, all by Gilbert and Sullivan, were:  Trial By Jury H M S PinaforePirates of PenzancePatience;  Iolanthe;  Princess IdaMikadoYeomen of the Guard;  and Gondoliers.

The Dundee schedule was as follows:

W/c 17 December:  Mon 17 Mikado;  Tue 18 Iolanthe;  Wed 19 Gondoliers;  Thu 20 Yeomen of the Guard;  Fri 21 Pirates of Penzance & Trial By Jury;  Sat 22 m Patience;  Sat 22 e Mikado;  Sun 23 Charity Concert.

W/c 24 December:  Mon 24 Gondoliers;  Tue 25 Patience;  Wed 26 Mikado;  Thu 27 HMS Pinafore & Trial By Jury;  Fri 28 Princess Ida;  Sat 29 m Yeomen of the Guard;  Sat 29 e Yeomen of the Guard.

Further Scottish dates to be confirmed.

The weather was unusually vile, blizzards of snow affecting audiences and causing challenges for the singers.  The lead contralto, Theresa Russam, missed the first week due to cold.  No sooner had she returned to performing than the lead soprano, Hope Hastings, and mezzo, Lulu Evans, succumbed in turn.  The understudies were certainly kept busy, though only one performance (Pinafore) seems to have attracted critical wrath.


Two Dundee Press Previews

Dundee Advertiser: Friday, December 14 1906    (p2)

Gilbert-Sullivan Operas - The Dundee Revival

'It is fortunate that in the first flush of that renewal which is freshly disclosing the art and magic of the Gilbert-Sullivan compositions Dundee should be able to vivify its impressions and analyse its opinions of the famous operas.  For the next fortnight at Her Majesty’s Theatre the D’Oyly Carte Company will be present with the largest repertory ever given here, and so, while London is flocking to the Savoy to hear again the mirthful and delicious melodies, local playgoers will also be crowding to hear the inimitable songs and choruses.  Never was a D’Oyly Carte visit more happily timed, for what season of the year could suit better than Christmastide the happy fun and harmonious moods of The Gondoliers and the rest of that famous company?  It will, indeed, be a charming time, and enthusiasts will no doubt want to live in the theatre.

'The two week programme opens on Monday with The Mikado, on Tuesday comes Iolanthe, Wednesday brings The Gondoliers, Thursday The Yeomen of the Guard, Friday presents The Pirates of Penzance and Trial by Jury, at the Saturday matinee Patience and on Saturday evening The Mikado.  The second week, commencing 24th December, starts with The Gondoliers, and then, in turn, come Patience, The Mikado, Pinafore and Trial by Jury, Princess Ida, and Saturday afternoon and evening, The Yeomen of the Guard.  To many the particular interests of this repertory will be Patience and Princess Ida, the first-named the chief favourite with numerous lay critics, and the latter a work whose score contains some lovely details and whose pictorial attractions are uncommon.  Princess Ida was last played here in 1902 and Patience was given in 1903 and 1904, but to some folk it is worth more frequent repetition, and both it and Princess Ida are sure to have plenty attention.

'Thus much for the programme: the company is of next, and in this instance, unusual importance.  For the Savoy revival has drawn away some familiar principals like Mr C H Workman and Miss Jessie Rose, but the cast still includes Miss Theresa Rassam, Miss Mabel Burnege, Mr Fred Billington, Mr Paolo Ripple, Mr Albert Kavanagh, Mr Leicester Tunks, and Mr Fred Drawater.  And the presence of Miss Hope Hastings, Miss Lulu Evans, and Mr Charles Walenn (who takes Mr Workman’s parts) will really occasion an unwonted expectation that is full of pleasantness.  For it is well to have a little change lest familiarity begets indifference, and to encounter a new Ko-Ko, for instance, is to find the opera with a fresh aspect.  The new players are of proved ability, and Mr Walenn is favourably known here.

'Thus all who love the Gilbert-Sullivan compositions may safely expect to find them in the next fortnight as brightly beautiful as ever, and it may be, even with a certain improvement in the acting and singing of some parts, though that seems impossible.  It is, of course, late in the day to write in general terms of praise of the operas, but at this time when the Gilbert-Sullivan work is being so much written about, it is useful to quote from the South African Annual a reminiscence that expresses the universal feeling in regard to the best known of all the operas.  “If it was possible,” says the writer, “to obtain the opinion of the peoples of the English-speaking world as to which of the comic operas produced during the nineteenth century was the best and most popular - terms which are by no means synonymous - the chances are that the verdict would be in favour of The Mikado.  Other musical productions, especially those of the Gilbert and Sullivan school, have run it pretty close, perhaps, in the matter of popularity; but for all-round excellence and melodiousness and whimsicality, there is, I fancy, nothing to approach it, not even The Gondoliers, which is certainly a good second best.

'To say that The Mikado has given pleasure to millions of people in all parts of the world is somewhat trite, but it is none the less true; and the surprising fact remains that although a couple of decades have passed since its charm and freshness first took London by storm, that charm and that freshness are as much in evidence to-day as they were on that memorable night in March 1885, when the Savoy Theatre curtain first rose and revealed to a delighted world the ‘gentlemen of Japan’ figuring ‘in lively paint’ in ‘attitudes queer and quaint,’ as on many a fan and jar.  I am not ashamed to confess that I waited many weary hours on the gallery steps of the theatre in order to gain admittance on that never to be forgotten night - ah, me!  I was young and foolish then!  And when I left the theatre I felt younger - by reason of the exhilarating nature of the entertainment; but not quite so foolish, thanks also to its fragrant wit and wisdom.  Talk about enthusiasm!  Why, the house fairly hugged itself with delight - as it would have hugged Yum-Yum, and Pitti-Sing, and Peep-Bo also if only it could have got near enough to them.  The joyousness of the piece was absolutely infectious, and within a week all London - as it seemed - was whistling ‘Three Little Maids from School,’ and re-echoing Ko-Ko’s audacious query: ‘Is a maiden all the better when she’s tough?’”


Dundee Courier & Argus: Friday, December 14 1906

Her Majesty’s Theatre - Gilbert and Sullivan Operas

'There is no company more popular in Dundee than the D’Oyly Carte Repertoire, which in greater or less entirety has now continued to visit us for more years than some of us like to remember.  The visit which begins on Monday is specially notable for more than one reason.  It is a specially lengthy visit, extending a fortnight; it is the first visit since the company’s South African tour; and it synchronises very nearly with the reproduction of The Yeomen of the Guard at the London Savoy.  This last is a point of much importance.  It is too early in the run yet to prophesy, but the present Savoy production has been made in answer to a public demand, and it may prove that the public taste is at last decidedly departing from musical comedy and returning to that fresher and purer style of entertainment of which the Savoy operas are the most perfect examples.

'While we rejoice that London has again evinced a desire for this pretty and artistic form of entertainment, which the provinces have so long enjoyed and appreciated, the fact has its disappointing side, for London has robbed us of several of our most cherished friends.  Mr C H Workman, who for so many years has played and sung in the provinces the principal comedian’s roles, has gone to the Savoy, and there has gained such glory that the papers say that, having now come to London, he will never leave.  Miss Jessie Rose, sweetest and daintiest of soubrettes, will also be found at the Savoy next week instead of at Her Majesty’s, and at the last moment Mr Paolo Ripple was annexed to take the place of the unfortunate new tenor, Mr Stuart Alexander.  Mr Frank Cellier, whose gracious and genial presence lent such a charm to the last visit of the company to Dundee, will, as is right, be found in the conductor’s seat at the Savoy.  Should provincial audiences not feel proud that they have enjoyed so frequently the performances of those artistes whom London, that artistic centre of the world, has now claimed?

'The programme for next week consists of The Mikado on Monday and Saturday evenings; Iolanthe on Tuesday; The Gondoliers on Wednesday; The Yeomen of the Guard on Thursday; The Pirates of Penzance and Trial by Jury on Friday, and Patience at a matinee on Saturday.

'The principal new-comers in the company are Miss Hope Hastings, who takes Miss Norah Maguire’s place; Miss Lulu Evans, who was here in Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera some years ago, and more recently with the pantomime of last spring, The Babes and Robin Hood; and Mr Charles R Walenn, who has played much with D’Oyly Carte companies, though not, we think, in Dundee, and who was here in A Country Girl a few weeks ago.  Miss Theresa Rassam, Mr Fred Billington, Mr Albert Kavanagh, and Mr Leicester Tunks still remain with us, and Mr Strafford Moss has been promoted to first tenor roles.  Mr Tom Silver will conduct, Mr F A Leon stage manages, and Mr H E Bellamy will represent Mrs Carte in front of the house.'


Two Dundee Reviews

Dundee Advertiser: Tuesday, December 18 1906    (p9)

Entertainments - Her Majesty’s Theatre - The Mikado

'Unusual interest invests the fortnight’s programme so splendidly introduced last night by the D’Oyly Carte Company.  For one thing, popular attention has been freshly directed to the Gilbert-Sullivan operas by the revival begun at the Savoy in London.  This has had the effect of calling forth a literature of praise and reminiscence that, like water washing over dry pebbles, has renewed the charms of these incomparable works.  Such revivals must occur from time to time, but it has happened happily indeed that one should take place while Mr W S Gilbert, whose delightful fancy and nimble wit evoked the sweetest and merriest music from Sir Arthur Sullivan, is still with us.  And in the second place the present appearance here is notable because of certain prominent changes in the cast necessitated by the absence of certain artistes gone to the Savoy.  Now, to many lovers of the operas, who rely implicitly upon the efforts of certain players, the mere mention of an alteration must at first be horrifying.  But this ought not to be.  Reiteration is good neither for art nor criticism.  Familiarity is apt to beget indifference.  And those who can recall their feelings when Mr George Thorne disappeared from the D’Oyly Carte cast and was succeeded by Mr C H Workman will confess that changes need not be unsettling.  In any case it is well to have a new presentment of a character, and if it proves disappointing, well, one feels confirmed in his approval of the old.

'That the new elements in the cast should first be tested in The Mikado was desirable; for, while the opera is not the masterpiece of the series, it is certainly the general favourite; and if the arrivals acquitted themselves successfully in it their work in the others might be expected to please.  That they do so in a wonderful measure will be agreed.  We were agreeably surprised, and it was evident from the frequent and hearty applause from an unusually large first night audience that the majority were equally so.  The opera, of course, as a piece of laughable fiction, neat humour, pictorial attraction, and constantly beautiful and clever music makes its old appeal.  The absurdity of the little drama of love and deception enacted at Titipu is as potent as ever; but we would like a little more sparkle in the acting, which drags somewhat.  The scenery is furbished up: some new and striking costumes appear in the resplendent ensemble; and there are bits of novelty in the concerted movements.  Then the orchestral music is excellently played.  As usual the male chorus is grandly full and well rounded; and the female voices are exceptionally fine - indeed, the D’Oyly Carte Company has never presented a female chorus so distinguished by good looks and singing so exquisitely.

'Among the principals Miss Mabel Burnege reappears as Peep-Bo, and makes the part as prettily and vocally interesting as formerly.  Mr Kavanagh, too, maintains his high standard, singing “A more humane Mikado” with expected effect, and raising a laugh as of yore with his sinister pomposity.  And, of course, the inimitable Billington looms as laughably large as ever, and with that amazingly crisp and clear enunciation of his rattles off his academic speech about primordial origins and the ludicrous references to his family pride.  The favourite’s voice, also, is as sensitive and funny as in other years: in short, Billington is just himself.  Of the new Yum-Yum it must be said that she gives abundant vitality to the part.  Miss Hope Hastings has the great essential of a lively presence, and she sings in a sprightly fashion.  She is at her best in the second act, and last night her remarkably artistic rendering of that gem of a song, “The sun whose rays,” was deservedly encored.  Miss Lulu Evans makes a very fascinating Pitti-Sing, and her mirthful voice is peculiarly welcome in “Three Little Maids,” while its more serious charm is apparent in “For he’s going to marry Yum-Yum.”

'Something in the nature of a triumph was achieved by Miss Phyllis Grey in the great dramatic and vocally exacting character of Katisha, which she takes while that wonderful singer, Miss Theresa Rassam, is resting for two nights.  Miss Grey looks and acts the part to perfection, and her trained and rounded alto voice is particularly grateful in that lovely solo, “The hour of gladness.”  Mr Charles R Walenn is a markedly good and comical Ko-Ko.  He is not so dexterous and irresistibly mirth-provoking as Mr Workman, and his style is occasionally faultily reminiscent of musical comedy, but he makes the little man vital to the story, and his speech echoes the crackle of the Workman utterance.  Mr Walenn sings in quite the traditional manner, and “I’ve got him on the list” and the other tripping numbers are given with naivete and drollery.  Finally, a word of hearty praise to Nanki-Poo.  Mr Strafford Moss was suffering a little from cold, but he played briskly, and his singing, notably in “A wandering minstrel,” is highly pleasing.  The new features of the performance, then, are not disappointing as pessimists may anticipate, nursing their recollections.  On the contrary, they are well worth studying, and they give a certain fresh interest to the opera.

'To-night Iolanthe is to be given, and it should be noted that on Sunday the company has kindly agreed to give a sacred concert in aid of the unemployed.'


Dundee Courier & Argus: Tuesday, December 18 1906

Her Majesty’s Theatre - The Mikado

'A very warm welcome awaited the D’Oyly Carte Repertoire Company last night in Her Majesty’s Theatre on the occasion of their first appearance here after their triumphal tour in South Africa.  So loud was the applause and so frequent were the encores that it seemed as if the audience were inclined to insist on two performances in one evening without the usually accompanying change of house.

'What can be said of The Mikado that is new?  It has ever been, rightly or wrongly, the most generally popular of the whole of Gilbert and Sullivan’s series, and it seems to exercise a special influence over Dundee audiences.  The house last night, if not crammed, was fuller than it has been for many weeks, and the performance was received with an amount of hilarity and gusto that could not have been excelled had the audience never heard the immortal work before.  Those who can compare last night’s production with the earliest performances in Dundee will detect some differences, even the sacred Gilbertian libretto having been added to, but everything increases the fun, and the consequent enjoyment of the audience, and that is the end aimed at.  The delightful music, characteristically Japanese at times, comic and serious by turns, but always tuneful, graceful, and artistic, is an abiding joy, the charm of which can never be lost.

'The cast last night differed considerably from that seen here before, and we must say that, without disparaging the new members, we grudge the London Savoy the presence of some of the figures that used to be familiar to provincial audiences.  The absence of Miss Theresa Rassam on account of regrettable illness was a disappointment, but we are assured that that admirable artiste will be able to appear to-morrow, if not to-night.

'We had a new Yum-Yum in Miss Hope Hastings, who has a well-trained voice of fine and telling quality.  She speaks and acts with brightness and piquancy, and sang specially well in “The Sun whose rays,” a trying solo, which earned one of the numerous encores.  Miss Lulu Evans, who has been seen here before as Pitti-Sing, was as smart and incisive as ever, and sang her music very effectively.  She gained the usual encore for “He’s going to marry Yum-Yum,” and by the sprightliness of her “business” added to the point of many a scene.  Miss Mabel Burnege made a most attractive Peep-Bo, and Miss Phyllis Grey, who appeared as Katisha, displayed a capital voice, and sang her two charming songs, “The hour of gladness” and “Hearts do not break,” with artistic fervour and feeling.

'Mr Charles R Walenn, the new Ko-Ko, soon made himself popular.  He is a born comedian, and he has a good singing voice.  He works very hard, at times doing perhaps too much, but he was immensely funny and droll throughout.  He made much of his part of “The flowers that bloom in the spring,” and of “Tit-Willow,” which was sung with wonderful point and humour.

'Mr Billington’s Pooh-Bah is, as it always has been, an inimitable performance.  He has the faculty of compelling the attention of the audience to the smallest thing he does or the lightest thing he says.  He is a past master in the art of expression, facial and lingual.  Mr Albert Kavanagh made a finely vigorous and telling Mikado, and Mr Leicester Tunks sang with delightful crispness and clearness, gaining an encore for his first song.  Mr Strafford Moss, the new Nanki-Poo, sang capitally, and acted with enjoyable freedom and even dash.  His first solo was admirably sung and was encored, and Mr Moss’s part in the many delightful concerted numbers was most effective.  Mr Fred Drawater’s fine bass voice was heard to much advantage in the popular “Madrigal.”  One of the most enjoyable numbers in the performance was the beautiful chorus which the ladies sing on their first appearance.  The voices are particularly fresh and tuneful, and that chorus specially was most prettily and sweetly sung.  The gentlemen also did well, narrowly missing an encore for their opening chorus.

'An augmented orchestra, capably and quietly conducted by Mr T Silver, played the overture and the accompaniments creditably, if not with unfailing steadiness.

'That delightful opera, Iolanthe, with Miss Hastings, Miss Evans, Mr Walenn, Mr Tunks, Mr Moss, Mr Billington and Mr Kavanagh in the cast, will be played to-night.'

Performance Cast

Nanki-Poo the Mikado's son, disguised as a wandering Minstrel

Strafford Moss (Dec 17)

Pooh-Bah Lord High Everything Else

Fred Billington (Dec 17)

Pish-Tush a Noble Lord

Leicester Tunks (Dec 17)

Ko-Ko Lord High Executioner of Titipu

Charles R Walenn (Dec 17)

Go-To a gentleman of Titipu

Fred Drawater (Dec 17)

Yum-Yum Ko-Ko's Ward

Hope Hastings (Dec 17)

Pitti-Sing Yum-Yum's sister, also Ko-Ko's Ward

Lulu Evans (Dec 17)

Peep-Bo Yum-Yum's sister, also Ko-Ko's Ward

Mabel Burnege (Dec 17)

Katisha an elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo

Phyllis Grey (Dec 17)

Mikado of Japan

Albert Kavanagh (Dec 17)

Performance DatesMikado 1906

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

17 Dec, 19.30 22 Dec, 19.30 26 Dec, 19.30

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