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29 October 1878


Last night a rare treat was afforded at the Theatre Royal to all those capable of enjoying excellent music, sparkling wit, and quaint and genuine humour. The audience, notwithstanding the tempestuous weather, was a large and brilliant one, as it behoved to be, seeing that the engagement, as we understand, is a more expensive one than even that of Mr. Irving. The piece performed was the comic opera of "H.M.S. Pinafore," the joint production of Mr. W. S. Gilbert and Mr. Arthur Sullivan.

The scene is laid on the deck of H.M.S. Pinafore, and in justice to all concerned may be fairly pronounced the most complete and effective ever witnessed in Dundee. The illusion that the spectator beholds the deck of a great warship afloat "on the rolling deep” is perfect. The piece has a purpose, being a satire on the ways and means by which dull, diligent, plodding, but somewhat incapable members of Parliament get hoisted, through their immense deference and loyalty to their political leaders, into offices of State, and the highest responsibility. One Sir Joseph Porter gets so hoisted into the post of First Lord of the Admiralty, all the appropriate ludicrous consequences following thereon.

But Sir Joseph (Mr. Ryley) sings admirably, if he does not shine as the First Lord of the Admiralty, and can, on an occasion, when led off his feet in enthusiastic moments — moments of song and sentiment — trip it on the light fantastic toe, as if he were once more a youth on "a simple village green." The singing of Miss D. Gordon, as Josephine, the captain’s daughter, of Miss Cummimgs, as Hebe, of Mr. Dwyer as Captain Corcoran, of Mr. Campbell, as Ralph Rackstraw, and of Mr. Rousbey as Dick Deadeye, was all that could be wished. But it might be an injustice to some half-dozen well-equipped vocalists on board H.M.S. Pinafore were we to single out one for special commendation. The company, to an individual, is more efficient and powerful for its work than is almost ever seen in the provinces. Whether in solo singing or in chorus singing, its performances are highly artistic. The soloists have voices that would do credit to any opera company stirring it in the provinces, and indeed reach an exactitude and finish not so very often attained by the members, all round, of opera companies we have the privilege of listening to. They have voices of remarkably fine timbre and excellent compass, each member working conscientiously to produce the highest effect. The chorus is strong, and sings in close unison, giving out a compact volume of harmony, which, with the spectacular effect, is irresistible.

The orchestra does its work in a quiet efficient way quite in keeping with the whole of the performances, which are worthy of the most generous support that the lovers of music and the drama in Dundee can bestow. The encores last evening were frequent and hearty, while the applause was continuous, spontaneous, and cordial.

The enjoyable farce of “Congenial Souls” pleasantly concluded the entertainment. The same pieces will be performed this and tomorrow evenings.

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