By Adrienne Simpson
This biography tells the tale of Alice may well, a traveling prima donna within the 19th century who travelled from England to Australia, New Zealand, India and the united states, playing pioneering performances of the preferred gentle operas of the day. alongside the way in which she took half in lots of premieres, together with the 1st construction of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer and the 1st permitted American construction of The Mikado . This vibrant lifestyles tale will entice theatre historians, fanatics of the melodrama, burlesque, and the musical level.
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Extra info for Alice May: Gilbert & Sullivan's First Prima Donna (Forgotten Stars of the Musical Theater)
It was the most frequently performed version of the opera in English-speaking countries during the nineteenth century. Cinderella’s largely mezzosoprano vocal line lay in the best register of Alice’s voice, and because the work had long been a favorite with colonial prima donnas, Melbourne audiences were able to appreciate how skillfully she played the role. The English opera season came to an end on October 11, after seven splendidly staged performances of Cinderella. If the theatre had not been booked by other attractions, the season could easily have been extended until the Italian company made its scheduled return the following month.
She was plumply pretty, in the approved style of the day, and had the trim figure and good legs so essential for many opera bouffe roles. She clearly enjoyed being onstage and had the priceless gift of being able to communicate that enjoyment across the footlights. As a later commentator for the Australasian Sketcher put it, “She is the very type of vivacity, liveliness and jauntiness…. ” The generally lower range of opérabouffe suited her big, strong voice best, but youthful imprudence enabled her to get away with higher-pitched roles, such as Marie or Satanella.
At the Wellington premiere of Michael Balfe’s Satanella on June 8, 1874, prospective patrons besieged the theatre doors nearly two hours before the curtain went up and hundreds were turned away, unable to buy tickets. The company’s popularity was reflected in its profits. Though figures were never published, comments in the theatrical columns of colonial newspapers suggested that Allen had every reason to be satisfied with the results of his venture. Allen’s leadership was a significant factor in the company’s success.
Alice May: Gilbert & Sullivan's First Prima Donna (Forgotten Stars of the Musical Theater) by Adrienne Simpson