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vehicle of Mr. Shaw's opinions, and expressed himself effectively, though at inordinate length.
A clever, though in some respects painful, play was “The Land of Promise,” by Somerset Maughan (Duke of York's, February 26). The heroine, an English girl of good family, is forced to emigrate to Canada, where she finds herself incapable of earning a living, and marries a backwoodsman, whom, after some severe experiences, she learns to love. The process of “breaking her in ” is partly conducted by brute force, and made the audience feel at times like eavesdroppers of the worst description; an impression much heightened by the really admirable acting of Mr. Godfrey Tearle and Miss Irene Vanbrugh in the principal parts. Indeed, Miss Vanbrugh won more sympathy for “Norah ” than the character by right demanded ; her personal distinction made us believe in the gentle breeding of Mr. Maughan's heroine, even while we felt that this very refinement would have taught her that the washing of cups and saucers is in itself a less degrading occupation than fighting and wrangling between husband and wife. The subordinate parts were well written and acted, especially those of Norah's peace-loving brother and shrewish sister-in-law,
“My Lady's Dress,” by Edward Knoblauch (Royalty, April 21), showed an original idea, but one exceptionally difficult of treatment. The author's aim was to show--as a rebuke to vanity and extravagance--each stage in the creation of a triumph in dressmaking. We saw, among other episodes, the silk weavers toiling at the loom, in Lyons; the trapper in Siberia ; and the cripple girl making artificial flowers in a London slum. Last, but not least, we were taken behind the scenes in the establishment of a famous man-milliner, who tyrannised with fiendish cruelty over the unfortunate mannequins. These scenes, some half-dozen in all, were linked together by a slender thread of story, but each might stand as a complete one-act play, with a distinct list of characters. In each, the chief parts were taken by Miss Gladys Cooper and Mr. Dennis Eadie, who thus appeared in six or seven different rôles in the course of an evening. The scenes were, naturally, of very varying merit; taken altogether, it may be said that the most dramatic was the episode of the Provençal peasants, who stake their fortunes upon silkworms. With regard to the acting, Miss Cooper succeeded best in the pathetic part of the flower-maker; and Mr. Eadie as the bully of the show-rooms.
Among the new works produced by well-known dramatists are “Plaster Saints,” by Israel Zangwill (Comedy, Feb. 5), which had a career of some months ; “ The Clever Ones,” by Alfred Sutro (Wyndham's, April 23), a comedy on somewhat obvious lines ; " The Dangerous Age,” by H. V. Esmond (Vaudeville, May 5); and “Outcast," by Hubert Henry Davies (Wyndham's, September 1). Mr. Stephen Phillips' blank verse drama, “ The Sin of David,” courageously produced by Mr. H. B. Irving (Savoy, June 9), proved no more successful an other ike ventures in recent years. Adaptations from novels included “Helen with the High Hand,” by Richard Pryce, and Arnold Bennett (Vaudeville, Feb. 17); and “The Impossible Woman,” by Haddon Chambers, from Miss Anne Sidgwick's novel “Tante” (Haymarket, Sept. 8). This last should, if produced in happier times, have had a longer career, although the delicacy of Miss Sidgwick's character drawing can scarcely be altogether reproduced on the stage.
Shakespearean revivals have numbered no more than three : “A Midsummer Night's Dream " (Savoy, Feb. 6); “Henry IV.,” Part I. (His Majesty's, Nov. 3); and “Henry V.” (Mr. Benson's company). Some surprise and perhaps a little disappointment were felt at Mr. Granville Barker's choice of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” as the successor to “ Twelfth Night.” Few of Shakespeare's plays offer more difficulties to the stage-manager, or give less scope for the greatest acting. It was even rumoured that these same difficulties were the attraction, and that the revival was in the nature of a tour-de-force, undertaken in reply to a challenge. In any case, Mr. Barker, if he did not triumph over all obstacles, might be trusted to avoid certain obvious pitfalls. His fairies were in no way reminiscent of pantomime; his Oberon was not a principal boy” but a well-grown young man (Mr. Dennis Neilson-Terry); above all, his clowns were human and delightful, without a touch of exaggeration. The grouping of the fairy scenes was exquisite, and the forest background among the most beautiful ever seen on the stage. The fantastic element, however, was on some points overdone, as in the gilding of the fairies' faces; while the figure of Puck (Mr. Donald Calthrop) in scarlet clothes and a flaxen wig, was more grotesque than supernatural. The acting honours rested decidedly with the clowns; Mr. Arthur Whitby as Quince once more proved himself the first Shakespearean comic actor of the day.
The two later revivals—“Henry IV.,” Part I., and "Henry V."—were a response to the patriotic enthusiasm called forth by the war. Sir Herbert Tree's Falstaff, and Mr. Benson's Henry V., are both too well known to require much comment. Sir Herbert, as we cannot but think, is still inclined to take the part too slowly; the tavern scenes all alike suffered from a certain heaviness, the result of over-elaboration in by-play and scenic effects. The tableau of the battle of Shrewsbury should have been entirely omitted; it was not only ineffective in itself, but it interrupted the action of the play at a crucial moment, and so lessened the effect of the later
As to the innovations in the caste, Mr. Basil Gill showed great rhetorical power in the difficult part of the King; and Mr. Owen Nares was an ideal Prince Hal in appearance, though he did not, in all respects, give the character quite its full value. Mr. Matheson Lang's rendering of Hotspur must, unfortunately, be confessed inadequate ; it was inclined to be ponderous rather than fiery, and was further marred by the assumption of an unnecessary and irritating stammer. Whether Sir Herbert Tree or Mr. Lang was responsible for putting this construction on the reference to Percy's “speaking thick," we cannot pretend to say ; but surely it may be taken for granted that if Shakespeare had intended his Hotspur to stammer aggressively in the delivery of blank verse he would have given some more definite instruction to that effect.
For the last five months of the year, revivals of more or less recently successful plays have been seen at almost every theatre; an inevitable resource for stage-managers in this time of dearth. Among these we may note “ Milestones” (Arnold Bennett and E. Knoblauch); “The Flag Lieutenant” (W. P. Drury and Leo Trevor), a particularly happy choice ;
“Raffles” (E. W. Hornung) ; and “His House in Order” (Sir A. W. Pinero). Two most popular American importations, “ Potash and Perlmutter," by Montague Glass (Queen's, April 14), and “ Peg o' my Heart," by J. Huntley Manners (Globe, Oct.), appear to hold their own through all vicissitudes; but, as both are given by American companies, they can. not be reckoned under the heading of English dramatic art.
It is impossible to close this record without mentioning the tragic death of Mr. Laurence Irving and his wife (Miss Mabel Hackney), who were drowned together in the wreck of the Empress of Ireland on May 29. Laurence Irving was an actor whose gift matured slowly, hindered by certain superficial defects; but his work, which steadily increased in merit, was never weak, and never insignificant. His loss will be felt by all who value enterprise and sincerity on our stage.
Roughly speaking the year 1914 may be divided into two diametrically opposed halves, the first in which London suffered from almost a surfeit of music, the other, on the declaration of war, when she was almost entirely devoid of music. But in spite of this absence of music during the last six months the year was one of the most remarkable for a quarter of a century. It was essentially an opera year, a fact which, coupled with the success of one of the opera schemes, confirms the statement. Not in living memory were so many operatic performances to be seen in London between the beginning of February and the end of July. This annus mirabilis began on February 2 at Covent Garden with the first performance here of “ Parsifal,” the copyright of which had expired only on the night of the previous December 31. Of course the world was agog to hear this much-talked of stage work, and in consequence the original number of performances was increased to twelve from ten, while in the summer or so-called “grand” season five further performances were given. The conductor at first was Artur Bodanzky, from Mannheim, and the opening casts included Burrian and Sembach as Parsifal, with Mélanie Kurt and Rüsche-Endorf as Kundry. In course of the first season several performances were given also of “ Die Meistersinger," " Tristan und Isolde," and “ Die Walküre,” while Méhul's “ Joseph” was staged for the first time in a London opera house. Albert Coates, an Englishman of Russian birth who is musical director at the Imperial Russian Opera in Petrograd, created a fine impression as conductor of the Wagner operas on this his first appearance here as operatic conductor. The “grand” season opened on April 20 and lasted uninterruptedly until July 28. were given in Italian, German and French, but not in English, and the changes were rung chiefly on well-worn operas such as Aïda," La Bohéme," “ Madama Butterfly,” “Samson et Dalila,” and so on. But two new works were produced, namely Zandonai's “ Francesca di Rimini” and Montemezzi's “ L'Amore dei tre Rei,” neither of which survived, however, for more than the customary three performances. But the point of the season was the revival of Verdi's “Falstaff,” with Scotti in the title rôle, after neglect of twenty years; three performances were given also of “Don Giovanni,” two of “Le Nozze di Figaro," and three of Boïto's “ Mefistofele
As usual operas which was restored in an entirely new stage setting by Bakst. Two cycles of Wagner's music dramas were given and included “ Der Ring” under Nikisch, “ Lohengrin " under Coates, and “ Die Meistersinger," the last of which was actually played on two consecutive nights. Of the new-comers the most powerful impression was made by Claudia Muzio, but among the season's singers were Melba, Caruso, Destinn and Matzenauer. On May 11 a gala was held for the visit of the King and Queen of Denmark.
But opera at Covent Garden was intrinsically of secondary importance, for the Russian season at Drury Lane, organised for Sir Joseph Beecham, Bart., by his son Thomas Beecham, very easily took pride of place from both the musically interesting and the dramatic and stage points of view. Indeed it is in no degree exaggeration to state that London had not previously seen opera given to ultimate advantage, at least for years too many to recall. The Beecham season, in fact, was a veritable riot of gorgeous performances. It began on May 20, and ran contemporaneously with that at Covent Garden till July 25 ; the prospectus was issued in February but not one single alteration had to be made in it, so that it was also a triumph for the management, a rare thing in metropolitan operatic affairs ! Strauss's “ Der Rosenkavalier” and “The Magic Flute" were capitally given several times in the early part of the season with Margarete Siems, Frieda Hempel, Claire Dux, Charlotte Uhr, Knüpfer and Bechstein, Beecham conducting. But it was not the German opera that was the thing, albeit much gratification came from the revival of Mozart's masterpiece. It was the extraordinary succession of magnificent Russian operas, ballet-operas and ballets, magnificently staged and performed, that completely revolutionised the Londoner's idea of opera.
Moussorgsky's “ Boris Godounov” and the brilliant “Khovanstchina” with Rimsky-Korsakov's “Ivan le Terrible” formed the nucleus of the season, in all of which the incomparable operatic artist, Chaliapin, reigned supreme. But there was much else that was entirely unfamiliar yet not a whit less attractive. An immense success followed the production of Borodin's “Prince Igor,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Le Coq d'Or” (this a particularly fascinating new form, for the singing was accomplished by the soloists and chorus who remain in uniform seated at the sides of the proscenium while the dramatic action was achieved by the corps de ballet), “ Un Nuit de Mai,” Stravinsky's “Le Rossignol ; ” Strauss's “ La Légende de Joseph " an ultra-modern version of the tale of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, proved momentarily exciting rather than permanently valuable. Strauss himself conducted the first performance. Ravel's
Daphnis et Chloë" and Steinberg's “ Midas” were given here for the first time, as also was Joseph Holbrooke's opera “Dylan " (in English). War Fund function in Covent Garden in the autumn Thomas Beecham produced a stage setting of Bach's cantata “ Phoebus and Pan,” which proved highly interesting and seemed to have provided Steinberg with his idea for “ Midas."
As with any possible autumn opera season, so with the doings in the concert world the war put an end to nearly all individual effort, save only for the various war funds. But in the earlier part of the year concerts were abundant. During the first six months London was visited by nearly all of the Continental musicians who have been in the habit of coming here in previous years. The Royal Philharmonic Society obtained a fresh glory
by producing new works by Stanford, Delius and Frank Bridge, but not much by introducing Strauss's “ Festliches Praeludium." Mengelberg was the chief conductor, and among the artists who appeared were Miss Muriel Foster, who received the Society's gold medal, Borwick, Lamond (since, according to report, become a naturalised German citizen), Lhevinne, Sapellnikoff and Cortôt. The Queen's Hall Symphony Orchestra, under Sir Henry J. Wood, brought forward several interesting new works, notably Schönberg's much abused “Five Orchestral Pieces,” Mahler's “ Das Lied von der Erde,” Stravinsky's delightful “ Fireworks” as well as Scriabin's "Prometheus " with the composer as solo pianist. The London Symphony Orchestra, on the other hand, devoted the whole of their programmes to quite familiar works, Steinbach, Nikisch, Mengelberg, Safonoff and Arbos being the conductors. Mr. Landon Ronald gave the first London performance of Elgar's “Falstaff” at one of the New Symphony Orchestra's concerts ; Henri Verbrugghen conducted a Beethoven Festival at Queen's Hall in April, and in June Emile Mlynarski gave two concerts of Slavonic music in the same place; those of English music given by T. E. Ellis were chiefly remarkable for the first performance of Vaughan Williams's fine symphony “ London.” In the height of the summer a mild sensation was created by the ability of a seven-year-old boy, Willy Ferraro, as conductor. The Royal Choral Society produced only Saint-Saëns's “The Promised Land” as novelty, while the London Choral Society, under Arthur Fagge, brought out Barnett's “The Eve of St. Agnes,” Speer's “ King Arthur” and Balfour Gardiner's “ April.” Record should be made of the visit of the Orféo Catala from Barcelona, and of the Swedish National Choir, both of which were fine. In spite of the war the Promenade Concerts went their even way, and at them several new works were produced, but the most use was made of the old and the familiar. Towards the end of the year a wave of feeling amounting almost to Chauvinism swept over the country in musical affairs. It began with an attempt, happily frustrated, to put a stop to all performances of music at the Promenade Concerts by natives of hostile lands. Its spread, however, was not substantial, and was, at worst, largely confined to those whose musical instincts are chiefly commercial.
A considerable amount of righteous indignation was aroused extralocally by the abandonment of the provincial festivals, those announced for Worcester, Norwich, Cardiff and Sheffield being given up and only those of Torquay (which took place in April) and Brighton (in Nov.), which were a complete artistic and financial success, actually took place.
No good purpose would be served by printing a lengthy list of the foreign artists who visited London during the year, for it would be much as in 1913. But the appearance of Ilona Durigo should be recorded in virtue of the genuine accomplishment of the singer. Sir George Henschel took farewell of the public as singer in April ; a Leo Ornstein, a Russian from America, literally startled the music-lovers of London by the originality of the cacophony of his compositions as played by himself. Probably one effect of the war, and a most beneficial effect, will be the clearing off from the artistic world of all such grotesquely manufactured efforts at "originality" of musical diction !
ROBIN H. LEGGE.