Logo: Centre for Performance HistoryHeading: Virtual Exhibitions, 2 - Pantomime and the Orient
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Preface 
Introduction 
The Touchstone (Dibdin, 1779) 
Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) 
Michael Kelly (1762-1826) 
Blue Beard (Kelly, 1798) 
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (1804) 
The Siege of Belgrade (1791) 
Nancy Storace (1765–1817) 
A Day in Turkey (1791) 
Charles Incledon (1763–1826) 
The Theatrical Candidates (1775) 
  
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4. Blue Beard; or Female Curiosity (1798)
Music by Michael Kelly, text by George Colman, the Younger.

Michael Kelly, The Grand Dramatic Romance of Blue Beard, or, Female Curiosity, (London, Edinburgh: Printed for Corri, Dussek, & Co., [1798]).

Michael Kelly, The Grand Dramatic Romance of Blue Beard, or, Female Curiosity, (London, Edinburgh: Printed for Corri, Dussek, & Co., [1798]). RCM Library, H225/5

 

Blue Beard was described as a ‘Grand Dramatick Romance’,  and was written with the specific design as an alternative for a Christmas pantomime, for children in the audience. Scenic spectacles and rapid transitions, brought about by Harlequin’s magic wand were the stock-in-trade of pantomime, and they brought good box-office returns. Michael Kelly had seen Grétry’s opera Barbe Bleue, based on Perrault’s fairy tale, in Paris in 1790. He paid Colman to make a libretto out of it, and Colman turned the French villain into a Turkish one, Abomelique. Reviews of Blue Beard were very mixed, but the work was popular with audiences. £2000 was spent on its preparation. Its most impressive effect was a grand cavalcade across the mountains, which used model figures and animals growing larger at each successive appearance. At a revival of Blue Beard at Covent Garden in 1811, 16 white performing horses were used, to ‘thunders of applause’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playbill for a performance of Blue Beard on 9 December 1816, Theatre Royal Covent Garden. Centre for Performance History

Playbill for a performance of Blue Beard on 9 December 1816, Theatre Royal Covent Garden. Centre for Performance History

 

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This page last updated: 19 November 2009