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 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 creation of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer and the 1st approved American construction of The Mikado . This vibrant lifestyles tale will attract 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)

Example text

A strong Italian company would continue to attract audiences from the intellectual and professional elite, but Lyster was well aware that many of his potential patrons were now young and colonial-born, without any nostalgic attachment to this type of music theatre. They preferred lighter, more modern works, in their own language. English versions of opéras-bouffes by Jacques Offenbach and his contemporaries were all the rage in Europe and America. These, along with genuinely English works such as Vincent Wallace’s Maritana and a few stock favorites such as Weber’s Der Freischütz and Bellini’s La Sonnambula, which had usually been sung in English in the colonies, would become his bread and butter.

Audiences took her 48 ADRIENNE SIMPSON to their hearts, showering her with bouquets and other more valuable tokens of appre ciation. During the company’s first visit to Christchurch she was presented with “a handsome gold necklace and locket, enclosed in a casket upon which was a silver plate bearing a suitable inscription,” according to a report in the Star of May 23, 1874. In Wellington, a group of admirers gave her a diamond brooch with matching earrings.

On March 20, 1872, the Royal, the only theater likely to provide them with stiff competition, burned to the ground. When Lyster and his colleagues launched the Australasian premiere of Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers ten days later, it was the only major show in town and audiences flocked to see it. Their first impressions were probably of the magnificent stage spectacle. The transparencies he painted for the act that is set in Hades were combined with such clever lighting and pyrotechnic effects that they immediately became the talk of Melbourne.

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