Opera Scotland

Gondoliers 1906D'Oyly Carte Principal Repertoire Company

Read more about the opera Gondoliers

The works performed, all by Gilbert and Sullivan, were:  Trial By Jury H M S Pinafore;  Pirates of Penzance;  Patience;  Iolanthe;  Princess Ida;  Mikado;  Yeomen 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.



Dundee Reviews

Dundee Advertiser: Thursday, December 20 1906    p9

Her Majesty’s Theatre - The Gondoliers

'Strangely enough, this brightest of all the Gilbert-Sullivan compositions is one to which attaches the gloomiest memory of that long and unique collaboration.  It was the last of the really popular operas prepared by the old friends before that disagreement that, though twice patched up, finally resulted in separation for ever.  A trivial cause inspired a quarrel that ended the comradeship.  It is further curious that the work into which librettist and composer entered with so much joyance immediately followed The Yeomen of the Guard which represents not only their most serious artistic effort, but a mood of reflectiveness and underlying melancholy such as they display nowhere else.  It was as though the companions, so perfectly tuned to each other, and so long accustomed to a merry vein, had almost regretted their lapse into the retrospective and pathetic, and had resolved to show once more their old happy ways.  It was the burst of glowing sunlight before the thunder storm.  The Yeomen of the Guard was produced in October 1888, and The Gondoliers appeared on 7th December 1889.  It was the first work given by a full company which Queen Victoria had witnessed since her widowhood.  Its joviality is infectious.  Not only is the story of the twins who for a time are called upon to occupy a throne riotous with comicality and suitably invested with the ardent colouring and splendour of Venetia and fabled Barataria, but the music exercises the magic of champagne and perfume.  It is impossible to listen to its dance measures and lovely airs without being exhilarated.  In and out and round about the story moves, with pop of wit and flush of colour.  Who but remembers that funny little song by the Grand Inquisitor in which he relates how for State reasons he stole the Royal infant of Barataria and brought him to Venice, leaving him in the care of a bibulous boatman whose “terrible taste for tippling” led to a mixing of the infants in his charge? -

                                    “I stole the Prince, and I brought him here,

                                                And left him gaily prattling

                                    With a highly respectable gondolier,

                                    Who promised the Royal babe to rear,

                                    And teach him the trade of a timoneer

                                                With his own beloved bratling.”

In this fashion of extravagant situation and deft and pretty lyric the opera develops till one is left almost wearied of merriment and well-nigh overwrought with impressions of lovely and enlivening music. No wonder that many have made The Gondoliers their favourite.  Last night’s performance of it was highly enjoyable, and was laughed over and applauded by a large though not a crowded audience.  It again displayed remarkably fine choral singing, the rare quality and harmony of the female voices being particularly noticeable in the charming opening chorus.  The concerted numbers also were well sung, and the famous Cachucha and gavotte were made delightful as of yore.

'The cast was largely different from that of last year, but Mr Billington, of course, was present in his accustomed part - he had a great reception - and Mr Albert Kavanagh’s fine presence and glorious voice again gave due distinction to the part of Giuseppe.  Mr Leicester Tunks was again an ideal Luiz, “with his own particular drum,” and Mr Fred Drawater and Mr J Lewis Campion reappeared in the respective characters of Antonio and Giorgio.  Then Miss Mabel Burnege renewed her charm as Vittoria, and Miss Mabel Graham figured, not in the ranks of the contadine, but as Casilda, singing with sweetness, though sometimes with a tendency to a vexacious tremolo.  Mr Strafford Moss, who last year played Francesco, now appeared as Marco, and both acted and sang with the happiest effect.  The new features of the cast were Miss Norma Russell in Miss Rassam’s part of the Duchess; Miss Hope Hastings as Gianetta; Miss Lulu Evans as Tessa; Miss Elsie Carey as Giulia; Miss Marie Carveth as Fiametta; Miss Phyllis Grey as Inez; and, vastly important, Mr Walenn in Mr Workman’s character of the Duke.  These vital changes, it must be fearlessly asserted, left the performance unaffected in any degree save that discerned by hypercriticism.

'We enjoyed the work of the new artistes right heartily, and on Monday night, when The Gondoliers is repeated, we expect to find absent such slight defects in the acting and singing as last night could fairly be traced to unfamiliarity or nervousness.  In brief, the performance was just such as one hoped for from the D’Oyly Carte Company.  Especially pleasing were Mr Walenn’s rendering of the crisply comical song “The Duke of Plaza-Toro,” the duet by Casilda and Luiz, the sunshiny song “When a merry maiden marries,” which was sung in a captivating way; Gianetta’s beautiful song about woman’s heart and hand; and, of course, dear friend Billington’s contributions all given in the old inimitable manner.  Nor must Antonio’s vivacious and artistic version of the dancing ditty “The merriest fellows are we” be forgotten.  These were a few of the more prominent successes in an abundantly bright and skilful performance.'

'To-night there is sure to be an eager audience for The Yeomen of the Guard.'


Dundee Advertiser: Tuesday, December 25 1906    (p2)

Her Majesty’s Theatre - The Gondoliers

'What promises to be a memorable week of brilliant performances and enthusiastic audiences opened last night with a repetition of this delightful opera, the brightest in the amazing Gilbert-Sullivan repertory.  If one is astonished on studying night after night the resourceful art of composer and librettist, something like an equal surprise must be felt at the way in which the D’Oyly Carte Company contrives to preserve a constant spirit and excellence of singing and acting skill under the strain of routine work.  Only artistes with a real love for their work and exceptional equipment would do this.  For instance, fine as Wednesday’s rendering of The Gondoliers proved, it was actually surpassed by that of last night.  The rollicking mood of the story was disclosed with the happiest effect, and the tuneful and often exquisite music was given forth in an ideal fashion.  Two important changes appeared in the cast.  Miss Rassam, superb actress and very gifted singer, returned to her part of the Duchess, and in the absence through illness of Miss Hope Hastings, whose work last week was singularly fine, Miss Gledhill figured as Gianetta.  This latter lady belongs to Edinburgh.  She acts in a taking manner, sings sweetly and artistically, and in general so acquits herself as to inspire confident hopes of an interesting future.  Mr Walenn as the Duke repeated his success of last week, and, of course, Mr Billington was as diverting as ever.  The whole entertainment was charmingly in keeping with Christmas feelings.

'To-night Patience is to be given, and no doubt lovers of that pretty, witty, and melodious work will turn out in large numbers.

'It should be mentioned that the concert given on Sunday night at Her Majesty’s and largely sustained by the D’Oyly Carte Company, realised £20 5s 3d, which sum will be applied in aid of the unemployed.'


Dundee Courier & Argus: Tuesday, December 25 1906

Her Majesty’s Theatre - The Gondoliers

'The second week of the engagement of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company began last night, when The Gondoliers, which was played last Wednesday, but which we did not then notice, was again presented.  There was a fine audience, with the holiday spirit abroad, before, and if we may venture to say so, behind the footlights as well.  The Gondoliers is so broadly burlesque in type that it lends itself to jovial treatment, by which it does not lose certainly so much as some of the other operas of the Gilbert and Sullivan series.

'The most important feature of last night’s performance was the return to work of Miss Theresa Rassam, the company’s popular and artistic contralto, after an illness which kept her off the stage all last week.  Her roles were capably filled, but we were all glad to welcome back one of the old and valued members of a company which is probably the most personally popular that visits us.  To counter-balance the pleasure of Miss Rassam’s appearance, Miss Hope Hastings the new principal soprano, who sang so brilliantly last week, was indisposed, and her place as Gianetta was taken by Miss Edith Gledhill, daughter of the well-known Edinburgh tenor vocalist.  Miss Gledhill, we believe, appeared for the first time last night in a principal part, and did, under the circumstances, remarkably well.  She was thoroughly up to her work, and displayed a pretty and well-trained voice.  A little more confidence, to be gained by experience, will make her an excellent artiste.  She sang that charming song, “Kind sir,” which opens the finale of the first act, very gracefully, and acted all through with the requisite verve and gaiety.

'Miss Rassam made, as usual, a most stately and dignified Duchess of Plaza-Toro.  Her one song in the second act was sung in most finished fashion, and in the concerted numbers with which she was associated she gave splendid aid.  Miss Lulu Evans, as Tessa, sang delightfully, though obviously suffering from cold, and she acted with her usual vivacity.  Miss Mabel Graham made a charming Casilda, and with the assistance of Mr Leicester Tunks, who was quite aristocratic as Luiz, gained a warm encore for that lovely duet, one of Sullivan’s most beautiful numbers, “There was a time.”

'Mr Charles R Walenn was at his best as the Duke of Plaza-Toro.  He makes the Spanish Hidalgo a most interesting as well as amusing gentleman, neatly emphasising the dignity of his position.  He was capital in his first song, and still better in his part of the gavotte, which was in some other respects rather burlesqued.  Mr Billington’s Don Alhambra is one of the best things on the stage, and his unctuous affability is as amusing as it is appropriate.  His song, “I stole the Prince,” with its delightful tune and its smart business, was warmly encored, and “There Lived a King” was also redemanded, despite his efforts to get on with the performance.  Mr Strafford Moss as Marco, and Mr Albert Kavanagh as Giuseppe, played their parts with much comicality, and sang vigorously and enjoyably, and Mr Fred Drawater sang Antonio’s song in the first act with fine dash and spirit.

'The choruses all went well, the “Cachucha,” despite the absence of some of the principals, being given with notable brightness, and being encored, and the band, under Mr Silver’s masterly control, were at their best.

'To-night Patience will be repeated, to-morrow The Mikado will be given for the last time during the present engagement, and on Thursday new ground will be broken with HMS Pinafore, followed by Trial by Jury.'

Performance Cast

Tessa a Contadina

Lulu Evans (Dec 19)

Gianetta a Contadina

Hope Hastings (Dec 19)

Edith Gledhill (Dec 24)

Vittoria a Contadina

Mabel Burnege (Dec 19)

Giulia a Contadina

Elsie Carey (Dec 19)

Fiametta a Contadina

Marie Carveth (Dec 19)

Marco Palmieri a Venetian Gondolier

Strafford Moss (Dec 19)

Giuseppe Palmieri a Venetian Gondolier

Albert Kavanagh (Dec 19)

Antonio a Venetian Gondolier

Fred Drawater (Dec 19)

Francesco a Venetian Gondolier

Blake Johnstone (Dec 19)

Giorgio a Venetian Gondolier

J Lewis Campion (Dec 19)

Duke of Plaza-Toro a Grandee of Spain

Charles R Walenn (Dec 19)

Duchess of Plaza-Toro

Norma Russell (Dec 19)

Theresa Rassam (Dec 24)

Casilda daughter of the Duke and Duchess

Mabel Graham (Dec 19)

Luiz the Duke's Attendant

Leicester Tunks (Dec 19)

Don Alhambra del Bolero the Grand Inquisitor

Fred Billington (Mar 19)

Inez the King's Foster-mother

Phyllis Grey (Dec 19)

Performance DatesGondoliers 1906

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

19 Dec, 19.30 24 Dec, 19.30

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