Words by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Royal Pier Pavilion,
May 1933
Cast List
The Duke of Plaza-Toro
Luiz (a)
Luiz (b)
Marco Palmieri
Giuseppe Palmieri
Don Alhambra del Bolero
Antonio (a)
Antonio (b)
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro (a)
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro (b)
Casilda (a)
Casilda (b)
Fiametta (a)
Fiametta (b)
Vittoria (a)
Vittoria (b)
Giulia (a)
Giulia (b)
Drummer Boy

Notes on this performance

10. The Gondoliers

A taste of democracy…

At the AGM for the 1931/32 season, a notable resolution was passed - the next opera would be The Gondoliers. This was the first time that the membership was permitted to vote for a particular show. The new season brought fresh ambition and enquiries were made about performing in the Grand Theatre but, having been quoted £200 for the week, the Committee opted to stay at the Royal Pier and pay the more reasonable £27 10s 0d (£27.50). There were also plans to support the Mayor’s Appeal for the Unemployed but the Hon Sec failed to get exemption from the Entertainment Tax (which would eventually take £30 11s 10d from the coffers) and its good intentions were abandoned.

The principle of double-casting was again adhered to and most of the women (plus some of the men) found themselves restricted to just two performances and a Dress Rehearsal - tickets for which were available to children at 6d (2.5p). This procedure did not go down well with everyone and Mr Parish (cast as Luiz) wrote to the Committee ‘protesting against the attendance of Mr Hughes at certain principal rehearsals, and against the possibility of double casting of Luiz’. He was informed that Mr Hughes was ‘on probation’ for the part and ‘if he achieved a satisfactory standard, he will be given the opportunity of sharing the performances’. Mr Parish promptly left the company (Mr Riddington, who had a similar experience in Iolanthe, was also missing from this production).

One advantage of double casting was that The Echo provided two reviews. After the first night it reported, ‘The performance of The Gondoliers was, I think, in certain respects the best they have given us. Why the show seemed to me to be outstanding, in spite of the high level the society has already achieved under their producer, Mr. George W. Mitchell, was its all-round quality; the spirit and power of the chorus; and the stimulating quality of the dancing and general rhythm.’ The following evening the same reporter stated, ‘Last night, the Southampton Amateur Operatic Society, scored another success with a somewhat altered cast. The general spirit and rhythm of the performance was even better than on Wednesday. There was also a larger audience.’

As usual, Eva Thorne (playing the Duchess) was lavished with praise, ‘a certain emotional strength which she exerts in precisely the right way at precisely the right moment,’ as was the ‘new’ Casilda (Gladys Cleave) who, ‘made a charming picture, and her vocal quality was very pleasing’. Appreciation for Bert Hughes’ interpretation of Luiz was, in comparison, rather subdued, ‘he made a good attempt, and at least, fully appreciated what was demanded of Luiz, as servant.’

Despite the rave reviews, The Gondoliers made a loss of £24 11s 0d (£24.55) leaving just £69 in the bank – mainly due to some fund raising activities. Although attendance at rehearsals had been much better (78%), there were concerns that members had sold significantly less tickets than for previous shows.

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Gondoliers

                                        Sydney Egerton (Marco Palmieri) and Alfred J Tomlin (Giuseppe Palmieri)

Photo of Ducal Party

Cicely Siggers (Casilda), Alfred Warren (Luiz), George W Mitchell (The Duke of Plaza-Toro), Eva Thorne (The Duchess of Plaza-Toro)

Photo of Girls

Kathleen Long (Gianetta), Herbert Adcock (Don Alhambra del Bolero), Winifred Thorne (Tessa)

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