By Adrienne Simpson
This biography tells the tale of Alice could, a traveling prima donna within the 19th century who travelled from England to Australia, New Zealand, India and the USA, 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 accepted American construction of The Mikado . This vibrant lifestyles tale will attract theatre historians, lovers of the melodrama, burlesque, and the musical degree.
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Extra resources for Alice May: Gilbert & Sullivan's First Prima Donna (Forgotten Stars of the Musical Theater)
Already slender profit margins could be squeezed still further by imponderables such as bad weather. New Zealanders loved entertainment of all kinds, but when driving rain turned the colony’s dirt roads to quagmires or seeped through the chinks in its wooden-walled theatres, even the most enthusiastic patrons stayed at home. A few days of playing to empty benches were enough to tip many a touring company’s budget into the red. Given the difficulties, the most remarkable feature of the Allen tour was its duration.
The average length of an opera tour in New Zealand was six months. Companies seldom remained more than four weeks in any town and in some places they stayed just a day or two before packing up and moving on. Frequent travel over long distances raised transport costs and made life harder for the performers. Already slender profit margins could be squeezed still further by imponderables such as bad weather. New Zealanders loved entertainment of all kinds, but when driving rain turned the colony’s dirt roads to quagmires or seeped through the chinks in its wooden-walled theatres, even the most enthusiastic patrons stayed at home.
But what little sparkle the enterprise possessed speedily evaporated, as Sydneysiders’ thoughts turned to Christmas pantomimes rather than opera, even of the lightest kind. The season faded away in a sequence of poorly attended benefit performances, ending with one for Lyster himself on December 9, 1872. After this, the members of the company went their separate ways. Several, including Alice and Allen, decided to remain in Sydney for a few weeks. It was an attractive place to spend Christmas: longer established than Melbourne, more compact and homely and blessed with a harbor of such outstanding natural beauty that visitors could only marvel at the breathtaking views from the various vantage points around its coastline.