Alice May: Gilbert & Sullivan's First Prima Donna (Forgotten by Adrienne Simpson

By Adrienne Simpson

This biography tells the tale of Alice may possibly, a traveling prima donna within the 19th century who travelled from England to Australia, New Zealand, India and the U.S., playing pioneering performances of the preferred gentle operas of the day. alongside the best way she took half in lots of premieres, together with the 1st creation of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer and the 1st accredited American creation of The Mikado . This vibrant existence tale will attract theatre historians, lovers of the melodrama, burlesque, and the musical level.

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Additional info for Alice May: Gilbert & Sullivan's First Prima Donna (Forgotten Stars of the Musical Theater)

Sample text

Miss May’s Gallery of Illustration” was an imitation of the London original, probably devised to see whether Alice had become enough of a drawing card for a company to be built around her. It opened at Sydney s Masonic Hall on the evening of Boxing Day (the day after Christmas), 1872, with a program of three one-act operettas. Burnand comedietta Cox and Box, in which Edward ALICE MAY 35 Farley played Cox and Howard Vernon, a clever actor-singer destined to become one of Australia’s great Gilbert and Sullivan interpreters, made a hit as Cox.

Gold still played a vital role in the economic life of the colony, but as just another commodity to be processed and exported. Just the previous year, on the Dunolly goldfield, the wheel of a passing cart had unearthed what was reputedly the world’s largest nugget to date. Dubbed the “Welcome Stranger,” it weighed over 2,500 ounces and was of exceptional color and beauty. Despite its unique qualities, the commercially minded Victorians gave no thought to putting the nugget on display or preserving it 18 ADRIENNE SIMPSON for posterity.

Alice’s performance in the plum role of the little pastry cook, Drogan, was a major factor in the work’s appeal. All the critics agreed that the part suited her admirably and her success was unequivocal. “She plays throughout with a genuine talent for burlesque,” noted the Argus. ” ALICE MAY 37 Drogan was not Alice’s only new role during the season. She was equally well received when she appeared in Julius Benedict’s romantic grand opera The Lily of Killarney. Based on Dion Boucicault’s sensation drama The Colleen Bawn, it told the story of Eily O’Connor, whose faithless husband attempted to have her murdered so that he could marry another woman.

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