By Adrienne Simpson
This biography tells the tale of Alice may perhaps, 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 permitted American creation of The Mikado . This vibrant existence tale will entice theatre historians, enthusiasts of the melodrama, burlesque, and the musical level.
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Extra resources for Alice May: Gilbert & Sullivan's First Prima Donna (Forgotten Stars of the Musical Theater)
In New Zealand, this mattered. Allen also took care to foster public goodwill by supporting charitable causes. His performers raised money for benevolent institutions, building funds, and lunatic asylums, and lent their voices to church services. In the process, they endeared themselves to the communities they visited. It was a policy other opera troupes would follow, but few with greater success. Allen’s reputation as a composer stood him in good stead. Many of his ballads, part-songs, and anthems were known to New Zealand music lovers, so he was treated as something of a visiting celebrity and his opinions were frequently sought.
16 ADRIENNE SIMPSON features plumply rounded with just the hint of a dimpled chin. Her face shows amiability rather than strength of character. Perhaps she was a girl easily persuaded, one who began by respecting and admiring her teacher and ended up under his influence. Mary Fiske of the New York Dramatic Mirror certainly saw Allen as a Svengali-like figure. ” This might have been how an older Alice, in the embittered aftermath of a relationship gone sour, portrayed the situation. Maybe Allen did promise to make her a star, but that does not mean she was unwilling to fall in with his plans.
Audiences and critics liked Alice May. 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.
Alice May: Gilbert & Sullivan's First Prima Donna (Forgotten Stars of the Musical Theater) by Adrienne Simpson