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The Rajah of Shivapore single work   musical theatre   opera   - 2 acts.
Issue Details: First known date: 1917... 1917 The Rajah of Shivapore
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Comic opera.

Set in India, the narrative begins when Chunder (the temple-keeper), who has pawned the golden image of the god Shiva, attempts to propitiate the rajah by offering him his beautiful daughter Aimee as wife. However, she is an unwilling proposition, having been smitten by the handsome pilgrim Jengis, who won her affection while impersonating Shiva. The rajah exposes Jengis and orders him to be beheaded, but is foiled by a beggar, who is none other than a disguised emperor. The emperor degrades the rajah and gives the young couple his blessing.

The libretto was written by Souter around 1907, with the rajah as the central comic character. Souter was apparently influenced by The Cingalee at the time, and originally planned to have the rajah close the shrine, pawn off the god, and travel to Paris on the proceeds, instead of going on a pilgrimage. However, the 'White Australia' cry at the time caused J .C. Williamson to reject the idea and never stage the opera.

Some years later, Victor Prince suggested to Souter that the white element be eliminated and that the plot be remodelled on romantic lines. Alfred Hill (who had previously worked with Souter on Tapu, after J. C. Williamson had asked that that the libretto be reworked) was then brought in to compose the music.

The Brisbane Courier's 'Music and Drama' column reported, prior to the Sydney premiere, that the 'comedy is not extraneous, but arises out of the story and is neat and clever (24 November 1917, p.12).

Much of the music is founded on Indian airs and melodies. Some song titles include 'Love, it is a Song', 'The Coughdrop', 'Maid of the Dear Eyes', 'Sad is the Heart', and 'Sword of Mine.'

Adaptations

The Rajah of Dampoor John N. McCallum , Town Topics , 1919 single work musical theatre burlesque humour

Very likely a spoof on the 1917 Alfred Hill comic opera, The Rajah of Shivapore (which had been staged in Brisbane in 1918), the production is described in the Brisbane Courier as a picturesque Eastern comic opera (18 August 1919, p.8). It was likely to have been staged, however, in the style of a one-act musical comedy . The storyline involved Elton Black as a sergeant of marines, with Alice Bennetto as the graceful daughter of a rajah, Lou Vernon as an Indian potentate, and Reg Hewett as the royal executioner.

Songs known to have been presented within the production are 'Invitation' (sung by Olga Muir), 'Up from Somerset' (Percy Mackay), and 'I'm the Rajah of Dampoor' and 'Achoo' (both sung by Lou Vernon). One of the highlights of the November 1919 revival, according to the same Brisbane Courier review, was Elton Black's 'feelingly' descriptive idea of being 'In Love.'

Notes

  • Alice Bennetto (who played Aimee, the temple keeper's daughter, in the premiere production) later took part in The Rajah of Dampoor, a burlesque version of the opera. This production was staged at the Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane, in 1919 by the Town Topics.

Production Details

  • 1917: Playhouse Theatre, Sydney, 15 December 1917 - ca. January 1918.

    • Director Frederick Ward; Producer/Lessee Sydney James; Conductor Alfred Hill; Costumes David Souter.
    • Troupe Sydney James Comic Opera Company
    • Cast incl. George Whitehead (Rajah), John Quinlan (Jengis, the Holy Pilgrim), Alice Bennetto (Aimee, the Temple Keeper's daughter), Vera Spaull (Bul Bul), Frank Hawthorne (Chunder), Frederick Ward (Bunder, the necromancer), David Drayton (Blind Beggar), Frank Stuart (Zaffir), James Henry (Kahn), Myra Morrison (Me Mia), Eileen Gilbert (The Ranee).
    • Additional characters included Kashmiri Girls, Nautch Girls, Priests and Villagers.

    1918: His Majesty's Theatre, Brisbane, 12-19 January.

    • Cast and production mostly as for Sydney season.
    • The advance representative was Reginald Wills.

    1918: Princess Theatre, Melbourne, 9 February. - 2 March.

    • Cast and production team mostly as for Sydney and Brisbane seasons.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

'The Rajah of Shivapore' 1918 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 14 January 1918; (p. 9)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
A review of the 1918 Brisbane premiere.
'The Rajah of Shivapore' 1918 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 5 January 1918; (p. 7)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
A preview of the forthcoming Brisbane season of The Rajah of Shivapore (His Majesty's Theatre; 12 January).
'The Rajah of Shivapore' 1918 single work review
— Appears in: The Green Room , January 1 1918; (p. 5)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
The Princess Theatre : 'Rajah of Shivapore' 1918 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 11 February 1918; (p. 8)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
A review of the 1918 Melbourne season.
The Princess Theatre : 'Rajah of Shivapore' 1918 single work review
— Appears in: The Argus , 11 February no. 22320 1918; (p. 8)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
A review of the 1918 Melbourne season.
An Australian Opera 1918 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 12 January 1918; (p. 11)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
A preview of the Brisbane premiere production.
Music and Drama 1917 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 22 December 1917; (p. 6)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
Music and Drama 1917 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 24 November 1917; (p. 12)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
Preview of the forthcoming world premiere of The Rajah of Shivapore (Playhouse Theatre, Sydney, 15 December 1917).
Music and Drama 1917 single work review
— Appears in: The Brisbane Courier , 15 December 1917; (p. 12)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
Preview of the forthcoming world premiere of The Rajah of Shivapore (Playhouse Theatre, Sydney, 15 December 1917).
The Princess Theatre : 'Rajah of Shivapore' 1918 single work review
— Appears in: The Argus , 11 February no. 22320 1918; (p. 8)

— Review of The Rajah of Shivapore D. H. Souter , 1917 single work musical theatre
A review of the 1918 Melbourne season.

PeriodicalNewspaper Details

Note:
This entry has been sourced from research undertaken by Dr Clay Djubal into Australian-written popular music theatre (ca. 1850-1930). See also the Australian Variety Theatre Archive
Last amended 16 Jan 2015 09:50:39
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