WE have more pictures of Black Country amateur operatics, inspired by our feature on Wolverhampton’s Trinity Operatic Society which appeared in Bugle 1095.
These pictures have been sent in by Mrs Jenny Hughes of Hailsham, East Sussex, who is a big fan of the Bugle. She writes, “My husband and I really enjoy reading the many interesting features and quite often we can remember the happenings because we were there or because elderly members of our family talked about them. It keeps my husband and I in touch with our roots; keep up the good work.”
Jenny goes on to write, “My parents, Norman and Olive Plimmer were members of Trinity Operatic Society during the late 1920s and 1930s. I enclose photos that I found in a box of my mum’s possessions.”
We have selected a few of the pictures Jenny sent in, which feature her parents in their show costumes. Some of the pictures have been tinted and give an idea of the vivid colours.
Although the Trinity Operatic Society are well known for their Gilbert and Sullivan productions only one of these pictures is from one their operettas. Norman Plimmer poses in traditional Japanese dress for The Mikado, one of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s most famous works, first performed in 1885, which includes celebrated songs such as A Wand’ring Minstrel I, Behold the Lord High Executioner, Three Little Maids From School, and Willow, Tit-willow.
The Mikado remains Gilbert and Sullivan’s most performed work and within a year of its opening there were 150 companies producing the opera across Europe and North America.
Some pictures show Norman and Olive in costume for a production of Miss Hook of Holland by Paul Rubens and Austen Hurgon. This musical comedy was first staged in 1907 and tells the story of Mr Hook, a wealthy Dutch distiller, and his daughter Sally, who invents a new drink, “Cream of the Sky”. The secret recipe is stolen and the rivals for Sally’s affections attempt to retrieve it and win her heart at the same time.
The original production was very successful and the show became a mainstay of amateur operatic groups but it has fallen out of fashion since the 1950s as tastes in musical theatre have changed.
Another two pictures show the Plimmers dressed up for a 1936 production of Sybil. This operetta was composed by the Hungarian Victor Jacobi and first performed in Budapest in February 1914. It was adapted into English by Harry Graham and premiered in New York in January 1916. The story is set in Russia and tells of a young French singer and her lover who are mistaken for an earl and his wife.
Our last pictures of Olive and Norman were taken in 1934 and show their costumes for The Rebel Maid. This romantic light opera was first produced in 1921 with music by Montague Philips and lyrics by Gerald Dodson. It is set in Devon during the Glorious Revolution of 1688; Lady Mary, the “rebel maid”, is aiding William of Orange to overthrow his uncle James II but she falls in love with a fellow conspirator and endangers both their lives.