No Cards (1869)

Libretto by W. S. Gilbert
Music by 'Lionel Elliot'

Miss Anabella Penrose,
     an heiress, niece of…
Ginger Green
Mrs. Pennythorne
Vanessa Schukis
Mr. Ellis Dee,
     a wealthy old bachelor
Henry Kettell
Mr. Churchmouse,
     a poor young bachelor
David Harrison
"Arthur Seymour," the butler a non-speaking  
     role, added for verisimilitude.
Peter Cameron

The Royal Victorian Opera Company
Wayne Ward, music director and pianist

Reviewed by J. Donald Smith

No Cards is a farce in the style of many of Gilbert's earlier plays. While the composer, "Lionel Elliot," is probably a pseudonym [for Thomas German Reed —ed.], and much of the music is arranged rather than newly composed, the play is noteworthy as having the first lyrics of Gilbert known to have been written to be set for a stage work, rather than written to existing tunes. The specific number in question is "The Queen of Babbetyboobledore", which was set by German Reed. Interpolated numbers include the Music Hall number "Champagne Charley" by Alfred Lee — inserted to give the soprano something to do besides a few verses of other numbers. The work includes the Bab Ballad "The Precocious Baby" (although it is not clear if the tune used is "The Whistling Oyster") Most unusual for Gilbert is that the contralto (originally Mrs. German Reed) carries the piece.

The songs are well sung but the overall performance is probably the weakest of the Royal Victorian Opera videos, despite being the most recent. It was done as a studio recording, not before audiences as were the others, and some of the performers, at least here, are shaky in their lines and are not up to the rapid-fire timing required of pure farce.

Issue History
1996[none]VHS NTSC[no number]