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From The Western Mail, 2 December 1879


The Theatre Royal Cardiff, was crowded last night to witness the first performance in the town of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's highly popular nautical opera, "H.M.S. Pinafore." It is just as impossible to account for the tremendous success of this particular production as it would be to try to find a reason for the unexampled run of "OurBoys" at the London Vaudeville. Both performances are in their respective spheres bright and sparkling and talented, but not more so than many other productions which have achieved only a very moderate measure of success.

If, however, we cannot explain the phenomenon, we can bear testimony to the fact that in Cardiff, as elsewhere, "H.M.S. Pinafore" is the theatrical "rage" of the season. Before the little house in Wood-street opened last night very nearly every seat in the dress circle, in the orchestra stalls, and the private boxes was bespoke. And we believe that they have also been "booked" for every night this week. The pit was crowded to overflowing, and even to the gallery the interest extended. To what height the popularity of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's work has reached  may be inferred from the fact that the company performing at Cardiff last night was one of three corps dramatique organised by Mr. D'Oyly Carte for its provincial representation.

The original company of the Opera Comique has already represented the piece for upwards of 500 times, and, as all readers of law reports know, another performance of the opera is being simultaneously conducted every night at the Aquarium Theatre, Westminster. In America the success of the opera is so great that it has been performed at no fewer than seven different theatres at one time in New York, and by 150 different companies altogether in the United States.

The music and libretto of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's opera are so well known that they need neither description nor eulogium at our hands. The piece was put upon the stage last night in a manner that reflected credit upon the mechanical and artistic resources of the establishment. And the impersonation of the characters and the rendering of the music allotted to them were very efficiently undertaken by the ladies and gentlemen enlisted under the flag of Mr. Herbert Brooke, the intelligent acting manager.

With such differences as the physical constitution of the various performers rendered inevitable, the parts were all played in strict accordance with the original models upon which the several characters are founded. For the most part the singing was satisfactory, but one or two of the ladies were at times a little flat, and our countryman, Mr. Cadwalader [sic] , who impersonated Ralph Rackstraw, was not quite as orthodox with the use of his h’s as he might have been. Considering the difficulties with which the band had to contend, it got through its work very fairly, the credit in this matter being especially due to Mr. Ralph Horner, the skilful and energetic conductor associated with the company.

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