Have you ever been admitted
to a rehearsal? Not a dress rehearsal, which is nearly a first performance,
but one of the first orchestral rehearsals, where the theatre is all covered
wit hchintz. The soldiers come on the stage with a helmet on their head
and a shooting-jacket and gray pants on; and while the prima donna warbles
her sufferings a fireman comes across, and the manager shouts to the electric
man, 'Why the -angel don't you turn that red lamp this way?' and all the
time the band and chorus and singers go their way. So it was when the other
day I came to the Savoy Theatre, and, waiting for the rehearsal of Perola
to begin - I think it is henceforth useless to say that this is Messrs.
W. S. Gilbert's and Arthur Sullivan's new opera - i saw all the ladies
expecting Sullivan's signal to commence; and what do you think they did?
Sing? Of course; but besides? Nearly all of them did some needlework. One
young lady vigorously applied her crochet to a black-and-yellow striped
coverlet; another one - a very pretty girl too - embroidered, with a rapid
needle, slippers for - happy him! and Miss Barnett gravely and majestically
worked her knitting-needles like a good old German housekeeper, and her
index went forward and backward like a metronome. In the stalls were two
ladies, one of whom is so well known as the best amateur singer that I
need designate her no further; but the other one attracted my attention
particularly. She read aloud an article which sounded rather familiar to
me; I heard, 'Nilsson, Albert Hall,' 7c. I looked at her hands; no doubt:
she read the World, and that filled me at once with deep respect.
But how she reads, is one of those rare accomplishments which only good
elocutionists know how to produce. She is altogether a charming girl, and
I would with pleasure tell you who she is; but Miss Fortescue asked me
particularly not to mention her name, so of course I cannot do it. Nor
am I at liberty to tell you what I heard, but let me inform you that Miss
Alice Barnett, the successful violoncello-player of Patience, who
measures 5 feet 10½ inches, and is most proportionately built, plays
a - Fairy Queen, and Mr. Grossmith, the transparent Bunthorne, appears
as Lord Chancellor, with an immense wig and silken gold-embroidered gown;
and Miss Braham - O, but I must not tell you anything, not even the funny
couplets of Grossmith - trust Gilbert for that - nor the charming melodies,
the pretty duet, the procession march, and the famous duet of which mention
was made in these columns four months ago: 'On every lip, her ladyship,'
&c. Be patient; you shall hear all about it very soon.
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