25 SEPTEMBER 1926, Page 32

THE IMMORTAL SAVOYAR,DS Gilbert and Sullivan. By A. H. Godwin.

(Dent. Bs.) IF anyone were to suggest that the characteristic of the En, genius were anything other than individualist, he would howled down by a great number of indignant experts in psychology of "this island people." He would, however, able in support of his argument to present them with concrete examples about which there could be no &intro These would be two great art-works whose chief quality in their absolute English-ness. I refer to the Autho Version, and—to the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. II with our Parliamentary System in another sphere, are highest triumphs of the committee mind. For though in manufacture—or should we say drafting—of the operas, committee was limited to two, or with D'Oyley Carte to th the work nevertheless was done on the round table meth We find letters passing between the collaborators, diseu nice points and gently " cussing " knotty ones. We Gilbert—that iron hand in the velvet glove—again and a, offering to alter or re-write lyrics whose apparent spontune had already cost him tears of blood. One of the most in1P 'sive things in this extraordinary partnership was the waY which Gilbert, the leader and autocrat, whose least word law at rehearsals, would yet defer with infinite patience to inspiration of Sullivan. Their creative relationship indeed a perfect example of the man-and-wife union.

There is is no doubt that Gilbert supplied qualities of male. He was the mind. He built the plays, and with t intellectual content knit them into the body of the iv° concrete judgment and foresight projected them on to the down to the slightest detail of costume and gesture. • his hands the actors and actresses became puppets, ted by his imperious and masterful temperament. with Sullivan, he was all graciousness and unremitting ce. He did all that was in his power to save that aridly genius from contact with the grosser and disturbing (talkies of their art. Without him, as later history phasized, Sullivan dropped back to the level of the Handel- -Sterndale-Bennett oratorios, and to the even lower hs of the sentimental ballads of which the "Lost Chord" most persistent survival'. c: -

n the other hand, it was this other-worldly quality of ;van ; the ineffable charm, the Mozartian drollery, the

and incisive technique, that filled up the fabric of bert's work as the bird music and the billowing clouds lift an April day out of its leafless austerity and chill. He ehed the poison on the tip of Gilbert's barbed arrows and bed them of their deadliness. He distilled that worldly-wise disillusioned wit into a quality that carried all of the teism with none of the rancour. At the same time he med to add a peculiar and private innuendo of his own. Mr. Godwin says in this excellent book, "many of the mpaniments seem to me to suggest nothing so much as a chuckling over his own joke, but with his hand before his h, lest he should be impolite or disturbing to Someone is speaking (or singing)." No matter how old fashioned may think him nowadays, with his diatonic idiom, and his r commonplace four-bar phrases, yet the purity of his. lady, its essentially musical source, all this makes him tually fresh and invigorating.

r. Godwin, in a chapter of very discriminating historical leism, shows this clean musical genius coming into the ish theatre like sunshine in a room where midnight els have been prolonged. How it showed up the closeness, tawdry touches, and the faded artificial lights. Yet the n head of the Royal Academy of Music, G. A. Macfarren, prejudiced enough to call Sullivan "the English enbach," who falls far short of Sullivan in spite of his eessful tunes and veneer o prettiness.

his latest book on the Savoy operas and their creators is

ly to be in great demand, for just at the moment there is pring tide of favour for these works whose popularity seems

r at the flood. The great tradition of Gilbert's staging has

11 broken by Mr. Ricketts, who has given us the Mikado new dress. This begins a new epoch in the history of that terprise, which began some forty years ago and has reaped .alculable profits. Mr. Godwin has a lot to teach us,"for he has ht thoroughly analysed the dramatist, the musician, and ir works, going from one to the other with constructive rsistence.