A Sensation Novel (1871)
Libretto by W. S. Gilbert
Music by 'Florian Pascal'
[Joseph Williams, Jr.]
|Bus Conductor||Henry Kettell|
|The Spirit of Romance||Nicholas Schadow|
|Herbert, a Sunday-school|
teacher, in love with…
|Alice Grey, the governess,|
in love with…
|Sir Ruthven Glenaloon,|
the wicked Baronet
The Royal Victorian Opera Company
Wayne Ward, music director and pianist
Gallery of Illustration Advertising Poster
Reviewed by J. Donald Smith
A Sensation Novel is probably the most unusual of Gilbert's
topsy-turvy plots. The characters in a melodrama (a take-off on the
novels of Wilkie Collins) have independent existences apart from their
'participation' in novels and have desires which are opposed to the
stock treatment by the authors of 'sensation novels.'
The music publisher Joseph Williams bought the copyrights of Gilbert's
"Gallery of Illustration" works in 1895
after the deaths in rapid succession of Mrs. Reed and the Reeds' son
Alfred. While the original music had been by Reed, Williams rescored
the work, not so much for performance as for the potential royalties
attendant on Gilbert's name. The new music sounds like early Debussy.
It serves to bring the work to the stage, but sounds quite out of period.
The video is a decent performance
but one (early in the history of the 'Royal Vic') in which the
timing in the dialog is not up to their later standard.
[Editor's Note: I saw this production of A Sensation Novel
live at the Gilbert Sesquicentennial Conference in 1986.
The play anticipates Pirandello's Six Characters in Search
of an Author, one of Gilbert's most striking creations. I agree
with Don Smith's assessment of the music.]
|1986||[none]||VHS NTSC||[no number]|