Posts Tagged ‘Victorien Sardou’

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Sarah Bernhardt in London, 1907, for the publication of her autobiography

August 20, 2013

Sarah Bernhardt (1845-1923), French tragedienne, in London, October/November 1907, for the French season and the publication of her autobiography, My Double Life

Madame Sarah Bernhardt and some of her Company; a group taken at the Royalty Theatre, London, October/November 1907.
left to right: Madame Allisson, M. Richard, M. Gerval, Mdlle. Flori, Madame Cerda, Madame Renée Parny, M. Mathillon, M. Maxudian, Madame Blanche Defrene, Madame Sarah Bernhardt, M. Decœur, Mdlle. Seylor, Madame Boulanger, M. Deneubourg, Madame Due, M. Piron, M. Guide, and M. Bouthors.
(photo: Dover Street Studios, London, 1907)

‘The interest of the playhouse in the feminine has been greatly increased during the week by the publication of My Double Life, the autobiography of Sarah Bernhardt, and the appearance of the lady herself at the Royalty. There has been so little of the mollusc [a reference to the comedy, The Mollusc, Criterion Theatre, London, 15 October 1907] about her that she might have well called it My Sextuple Life, for she has crammed into it enough to fill the lives of half-a-dozen ordinary women. She has dabbled in all the arts and touched the heights of passion in a way that would obsess most other women completely. It is a lively book tingling with sensations, and will interested everybody who cares to come into contact with a personality which feels life – and death for that matter – acutely. Her appearance at the Royalty is the most interesting event of the French season. Mr. Heinemann, who publishes the book (at 15s.) has also issued a cheap single-volume edition of Mr. Bram Stoker’s book on Sir Henry Irving.’
(J.M. Bulloch, The Sphere, London, Saturday, 26 October 1907, p.82b)

Sarah Bernhardt
Madame Bernhardt asleep in her coffin. The celebrated photograph from My Double Life, the memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt, published in London in October 1907 by William Heinemann. (photo: unknown, Paris, 1880s)

‘It was by a curious coincidence that the week which saw the production of Mr. [Roy] Horniman’s play [The Education of Elizabeth, Apollo Theatre, London, 19 October 1907] should also have seen the publication of Madame Bernhardt’s autobiography My Double Life, which gives an extraordinarily vivid impression of the working of the wheels of the real theatrical mind, not so much in a direct way but so far as its entire spirit is concerned. The impression of the book has been heightened by the opportunity of seeing Sarah at the New Royalty, where Mr. Gaston Mayer is conducting a very brilliant French season. Madame Bernhardt, like everybody with a temperament, varies greatly, but of recent years she has seemed really to be getting younger. The mere ability of being able to play such stuff as [Victorien Sardou’s] La Sorcière is extraordinary.’
(The Sphere, London, Saturday, 2 November 1907, p.104c)

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Les Merveilleuses

May 8, 2013

Les Merveilleuses, the comic opera at Daly’s theatre, first produced on 27 October 1906, with music by Hugo Felix, reopens after various changes, including the title to The Lady Dandies at the same theatre at the end of January 1907; Huntley Wright, Gabrielle Ray and others join the cast. Huntley Wright (1868-1943), English actor and singer, as St. Amour in The Lady Dandies, a part in which he succeeded W.H. Berry at the end of January 1907. (photo: Ellis & Walery, London, 1907)

‘At Daly’s they do things in a grand style which distinguishes Mr. George Edwardes’s productions at this theatre from other plays of the same order if not of the same class, and Mr. Edwardes, in all these years, has given us nothing more beautiful at Daly’s than The Merveilleuses, of which the title has now been changed to The Lady Dandies, a wise reversion to the title, or something very like it, chosen for the play before it was first produced. It is a change for the better, for Merveilleuse happens to be just one of those words which an Englishman may pronounce in such a way that nobody can understand what he means – or what he says, which is not exactly the same thing. The name of the piece is not the only thing that has been changed, and on Wednesday evening Mr. Huntley Wright returned once more to the scene of his great successes, and with the return of Mr. Wright to the fold Daly’s is itself again. With the interpolation of new songs, for which Mr. Lionel Monckton has written the music to the words of Captain Basil Hood, who has done M. Victorien Sardou’s “book” into good English, the dalyfication of this “comedy opera” is complete. Mr. Wright has now the part of St. Amour, the Prefect of Police, which was first played by Mr. W.H. Berry. It is not into the background, however, that Mr. Berry retires. In his part of Tournesol, the “police agent,” he is as funny as ever, while the character of St. Amour has expanded wonderfully at the magic touch of the ready and inventive Huntley Wright. Mr. Wright acted and sang and danced and joked as if he felt glad to be back at Daly’s, and the audience laughed as if they were glad to see him back. His satirical, topical song, “Only a Question of Time,” made a great hit, and although I have no great liking for the growing custom of introducing all sorts of personalities – social, political, and domestic – into musical plays, I must acknowledge that the audience seemed to find immense enjoyment in the verse which says “It is only a question of time (And the prominence given her part), And the charming Camille [Clifford], [Edna] May become Nelly Neil, Which is [Charles] Frohman for Sarah Bernhardt.”
‘Another new-comer to The Lady Dandies is Miss Gabrielle Ray, who has an accent all her own in dancing as she has in singing, and this I will say, a daintier dancer I never wish to see, though Miss Ray must make haste to get rid of her air of self-consciousness if she wishes to make the best of her talents. The student of theatrical astronomy may discover a whole constellation of stars at Daly’s just now, and the beautiful music of Dr. Hugo Felix is admirably rendered. Miss Evie Greene, who has a new song since the first night, is in great form; I have never seen her look better, nor act better, nor sing better than she looks and acts and sings as the “merveilleuse” Ladoiska in The Lady Dandies, and Miss Denise Orme, the purity and sweetness of whose voice would melt a heart of india-rubber, is a sheer ecstasy. Mr. Robert Evett, as the hero, and Mr. Fred Kaye have warmed to their parts, and I should say the same of Mr. Louis Bradfield’s performance of the “Incroyable” if I had not found it already admirable when the piece was first produced. Musical plays have a curious elasticity, and I find it difficult to realise what has been taken out of Les Marveilleuses [sic] to put so much more in. Certainly the new infusion of fun does not diminish the attractiveness of The Lady Dandies, and there is a long life, if I am not mistaken, and a merry one, in store for the piece.’
(‘Carados’, The Referee, London, Sunday, 3 February 1907, p.3b)

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Kyrle Bellew

March 6, 2013

a cabinet photograph of Kyrle Bellew (1855-1911), English actor and dramatist, as Olivier in Laurence Irving’s translation of Victorien Sardou’s drama, Robespierre, which was produced at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 15 April 1899. The distinguished cast was headed by Henry Irving as Maximilien Robespierre.
(photo: Lallie Garet-Charles, 1 Litchfield Road, London, 1899)