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Utopia Limited ~ world première 7th Oct 1893: | by painting in light
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Utopia Limited ~ world première 7th Oct 1893:

In this 1893 photo [cabinet card] of three of the world premiere cast, from left to right =

 

Rosina Brandram [1846 – 1907] as Lady Sophy [the princesses’ English governess]

 

Emmie Owen [1871 – 1905] as Princess Nekaya

 

Florence Perry [1869 – 1949] as Princess Kalyba

 

This is a ‘Woodburytype’ print – a process that gives exceptionally fine detail and is not prone to fading as normal photograph prints of the era are.

 

The Gilbert and Sullivan opera Utopia Limited, or The Flowers of Progress opened at the Savoy Theatre on 7th Oct 1893 and a series of photographs were made by Alfred Ellis of 20, Upper Baker St, London, N.W.

 

The photographer Alfred Ellis was born in 1854 and died 1930.

 

He was a member of the Photographic Society - later The Royal Photographic Society -from November 1883 and was one of original members of the Professional Photographers' Association.

 

He specialised in theatrical photography; arranged for actual scenes from plays to be photographed at his studio and later photographed stage performances at theatres themselves.

 

He took a leading interest in photographers' copyright, fighting several actions in High Courts and was one of founders of Copyright Union.

 

I personally think that for a 'posed' photograph it is truly amazing - 'still' but so full of life.

 

==

 

Rosina Brandram –

 

Rosina Brandram [real surname was Moult] joined the D'Oyly Carte organization in 1877 and had the distinction of creating every Gilbert and Sullivan leading contralto role at the Savoy.

 

Amongst the numerous roles she created were, for Gilbert and Sullivan -

 

31st Dec 1879 [Fifth Avenue Theatre New York] she created the role of Kate in The Pirates of Penzance. # Although Marian May had sung the part literally hours earlier in the single copyright performance at the Royal Bijou Theatre in Paignton, Devon, England on 30th December 1879.

 

5th Jan 1884 [Savoy Theatre London] she created the part of Lady Blanche in Princess Ida.

 

14th March 1885 [Savoy Theatre London] she created Katisha in The Mikado.

 

21st Jan 1887 [Savoy Theatre London] she created Dame Hannah in Ruddigore.

 

3rd Oct 1888 [Savoy Theatre London] she created Dame Carruthers in The Yeoman of the Guard.

 

7th Dec 1889 [Savoy Theatre London] she created the Duchess of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers.

 

7th Oct 1893 [Savoy Theatre London] she created Lady Sophy in Utopia Limited.

 

7th March 1896 [Savoy Theatre London] she created Baroness von Krakenfeldt in The Grand Duke.

 

Emmie Owen –

 

Amongst the numerous roles she created were, for Gilbert and Sullivan -

 

7th Oct 1893 [Savoy Theatre London] she created Princess Nekaya in Utopia Limited.

 

7th March 1896 [Savoy Theatre London] she created the Princess of Monte Carlo in The Grand Duke.

 

Florence Perry –

 

Amongst the numerous roles she created were, for Gilbert and Sullivan -

 

7th Oct 1893 [Savoy Theatre London] she created Princess Kalyba in Utopia Limited.

 

7th March 1896 [Savoy Theatre London] she created Lisa in The Grand Duke.

  

# The ‘Woodburytype’ print is a process that gives exceptionally fine detail and is not prone to fading as normal photograph prints of the era are. It was invented by Walter Bentley Woodbury who was born in Manchester, England on 26th June 1834 and died in Margate, England on 5th September 1885.

 

The 'Woodburytype' photomechanical reproduction process was patented in 1864.

 

Put very simply, the Woodburytype process is to expose a glass sheet covered with a mixture of light sensitized gelatine mixed with a carbon pigment through the negative.

 

This results in a film of gelatine thickest in the darkest areas of the picture and this is used to create a lead mould by using great pressure.

 

The mould is then used to create the 'Woodburytype' which could be of any colour but is usually brown.

 

Given the expertise required and the fact that the process could not be automated, it was very expensive.

 

Woodburytypes were used extensively for inserts in books etc, being mounted an paper/card.

   

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Taken in October 1893