|HMS Pinafore > Reviews > Review from The Daily News
“H.M.S. Pinafore" IN NEW YORK.
Our New York Correspondent writes: — Mr. Arthur Sullivan conducted a performance of his Prodigal Son and his "In Memoriam” overture recently, in Boston; and he afterwards began his public career in New York, directing the first of a series of representations of H.M.S. Pinafore at the Fifth Avenue Theatre.
Mr. W. S. Gilbert undertook the stage management, and entered into his duties with so much zeal that he dressed as a man-of- war's man and mingled with the chorus on the stage. The audience, to whom he was a stranger, did not know him. There was a splendid house: all the places were sold long in advance; fashionable society was there in great force; and the cordiality of the welcome to the author and composer was all that could have been desired. Mr. Sullivan was kept bowing a long time before he could begin the overture, and at the close both gentlemen were called before the curtain, where Mr. Gilbert (in faultless evening dress now) made a neat little speech which everybody praised and the newspapers oddly misreported next morning.
There was a great deal of curiosity to see wherein the genuine London Pinafore differed from the various pirated versions played so much over here; there was still greater curiosity to see creators of that famous work, and a real eagerness, I am sure, to show good feeling towards a musician and dramatist to whom America is indebted for many pleasant entertainments.
Except in the orchestration of the opera I cannot say that the differences were very marked. The best and most successful of the New York Pinafore performances of last year was evidently modelled very carefully upon the London original, both in its general spirit and in the most important details of the stage business. The instrumentation is a nice matter which musicians, of course, will notice; but the general public is quite as well satisfied with the counterfeit score as the real one. I know of a travelling English opera company which has a large repertoire, and does not possess the genuine score of a single opera except Faust, all the rest haring been cheaply made to order from the pianoforte arrangements; but the audiences (provincial) have never found out the trick.
The company which Messrs. Sullivan and Gilbert have brought with them contains better singers than have generally interpreted the Pinafore in this city, but in one particular it provokes comparisons that are not altogether unfortunate — we mean in the representative of Sir Joseph Porter. Mr. Ryley would please better in this part if Mr. Thomas Whiffen had not made so much of it last season. The delicacy, the repose; the calm and beautiful conceit of this latter gentleman's First Lord of the Admiralty made his personation one of the best pieces of burlesque I ever saw. It was a distinct creation of character.
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