This production will feature three operettas; Cox and Box by F.C. Burnand and Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame), The Blind Beggars by Offenbach and Don Quichotte et Sanco Panca by Hervé. It will be available to book into venues around the country in 2017.
Cox and Box is an operetta based on the highly successful farce Box and Cox by John Maddison Morton. The story centres around the landlord, Bouncer, who lets a room to two lodgers at once; Mr Cox, a hatter who works by day and Mr Box, a printer who works by night. Inevitably the two bump into each other and hilarity ensues!
Many people will be familiar with Cox and Box, often performed alongside Gilbert and Sullivan operas such as The Pirates of Penzance or Trial by Jury, but in fact most people will have experienced a severely cut down version of the work in order for it to act as a short ‘curtain raiser’ for the bigger operas. The original production, which ran for 264 performances in the same venue in 1869, actually ran at about an hour in length. Then and for some years after it was the headline piece performed alongside other works which would act as ‘curtain raisers’ for it.
EXTRACT FROM THE FIRST REVIEW OF COX AND BOX
AN AMATEUR PRODUCTION PERFORMED AT THE ADELPHI THEATRE IN 1867:
“We feel compelled to say that Mr. Burnand has executed his task so well, and that Mr. Arthur S. Sullivan, our most rising composer, has written music for it so full of sparking tune and real comic humour that we cannot but believe that this musical version of a widely popular farce would have a genuine success if produced on the recognized stage by recognized professional players. It is quite as stirring and lively as anything by M. Offenbach, with the extra advantage of being the work of a cultivated musician, who under any temptation would scorn to write ungrammatically even if he could… The whole passed off amid roars of laughter, and a special call was made for Mr. Sullivan, musical director of the day, who bowed from his place in the orchestra.” The Times: 13 May 1867
EXTRACT FROM THE SUBSEQUENT REVIEW OF THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION
PERFORMED AT THE ROYAL GALLERY OF ILLUSTRATION IN 1869:
“The whole, in short, is excellent of its class. In Mr. Arthur Sullivan Mr. Burnand was lucky enough to find not only a ready and skilful musician, but one quite able to understand and enter into the humour of the burlesque… The music improves on more intimate acquaintance. It has the genuine comic ring, is full of sparkling melody, and, farcical as is the libretto to which it is allied, essentially dramatic… The curtain fell amid loud and general applause and a call for the performers.” The Times: 30 March 1869
The Blind Beggars is an English version of Offenbach’s Les Deux Avengles, his first operetta performed in Paris in 1855.
Don Quichotte et Sanco Panca by Hervé will be the opening work of the evening and will be the UK premiere of what is considered to be the first operetta ever. It was first performed in Paris in 1848.