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Summary of amusements

The New York Times – June 23, 1872

(…) In addition to the excitement caused by Mme CHAUMONT, two works of interest engross public attention just now in London. One is the “Gelmina” of Prince PONIATOWSKI ; the other the “King Carrot” of MM. OFFENBACH and SARDOU. (…)


The opinions of the best judges in London are quite confirmatory of our previously-expressed belief that the “Roi Carotte” is an extremely stupid and wearisome opera bouffe. The criticisme of the Athenœum is fairly representative of the general verdict, and is to the succeding effect :

“‘Le Roi Carotte’ the fairy opera bouffe in four actes and twenty-four tableaus, the book by M. SARDOU, and the musci by M. OFFENBACH, was produced last January in Paris, at the Tréâtre de la Gaîté ; it has bah a long run, but its success is certainly not owing either to the libretto or to the music, for public opinion has pronounced the drame to be dull and incoherent, and the composition to the weak and heavy. The Parisiens regarded the ‘Roi Carotte’ as an attractive spectacle, the mise en scène being anprecedentedly gorgeous, and the transformation and mechanical effects quite startling. M. SARDOU avowedly borrowed his piece from one of HOFFMANN’S tales, The Heroic History of the Celebrated Minister Klein Zach, surnamed Cinabre ; but it is probable the Dean SWIFT was more consulted by the French dramatist, for the governemental allusions in the ‘Roi Carotte’ will be found in Gulliver’s Travels, some of whose marvelous adventures in curious countries, in which animals reign and pigmies are in ascendant, are imitated. The tree scenic sensations in Paris were Pompeii as it is, Pompeii as it was, and the Kingdom of the Ants, and these sufficed to compensate for the stupidity of the story, of M. SARDOU’S sarcasm, in which he has never yet been understood, and for the monotony of the music. M. OFFENBACH’S one fingered piano-forte style, so comically illustrated by ROSSINI in his jocular moments, being unusually palpable. Except the well-conceived, well-voiced quintet, ‘Salut, o ville morte !’ and the Pompeian Wedding March, the numbers in the score succeed each other in one strain. It was reserved for the Royal Alhambra Theatre to present an adaptation of ‘Le Roi Carotte,’ Mr. H. S. LEIGH undertaking the task. He has succeeded in reducing the piquant points and smart sayings of M. SARDOU to a minimum ; and perhaps it would have been as well to have omitted the name of the French author from the bills and books, and left the adapter alone responsible for the words. It splendid scenery, costly costumes, and a brilliant ballet will suffice to please the patrons of the Alhambra, the English version will have a long run ; hut the musical execution on the first night was intolerable, nearly all the principals vieing with each other in singing out of tune, the orchestra being boisterous to a degree, and the choralists, when the knew their music – which was but rarely – exercising their lungs in stunning fortissimos. Mlle. ELISA SAVELLI (the Rosée du Soir,) who, we are assured in the bills, is a ‘celebrated prima donna from Milan, Naples, &c.,’ but whose name we do not recollect to have seen in the Italian journals, and whose accent is unmistakably metropolitan, has a voice which, with more judicious management, might be made sympathetic and attractive. The Continental origin of Mlle. ANNETA SCASI cannot be disputed ; she played Robin Wildfire with much animation. Mlle. CORNELIA D’ANKA was the Princess Cunegonde and, if she had neither to sing nor speak, she would be welcome in the part. Mr. F. CELLI walked through the part of the Prince Fridolin, singing the music very unequally, although he has an organ capable of being rendered agreeable. There were sereval encores, but it was the marvelous choregraphic feats of Mlle. BERTHA LINDA, the blonde, who danced whith Signorina NINI, the brunette, which excited the Alhambra auditory to enthusiastic manifestations. It is probable that Mlle. LINDA, who danced with the Viennese troupe who were at the Drury-lane Italian Opera season last year, will be the main attraction. Roi Carotte was cleverly and yet disagreeably enacted by Mr. H. PAULTON. The work must be cut down materially, and with a few more performances the artists will, perhaps, become familiar with their characters.”

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