A GILBERT AND SULLIVAN
SPEECH AND SONG BY MR. FREDERICK HOBBS
AND THE D'OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY
11th October, 1928
The Crystal Ball-room in the King Edward Hotel was crowded with the largest audience that has assembled at any Club Luncheon this season, the adjoining room being required also, to accommodate the members and guests. The audience greatly enjoyed the proceedings the speech of Mr. Hobbs and the singing of the Octette being applauded in the most enthusiastic manner-and joined in the chorus in some cases.
PRESIDENT FENNELL, in opening, said:- It is very significant that the Empire Club of Canada, organized as it is to strengthen every bond of Empire, should have as its guests of honour today the members of that famous Opera Company, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, who are presenting in Toronto this week the delightful operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. (Applause.) We in Toronto are very boastful and very proud of our English connections. We are very proud of most things English, but not more proud of anything English than of the English stage. No other stage has produced such playwrights. No other stage, has produced such stars. No other stage has produced a Gilbert and Sullivan; and no other country has produced a D'Oyly Carte. (Hear, hear, and applause.) Gentlemen of the Company, you this week have made us very proud of our common tongue and our traditions. It is a very great privilege to have you with us today, and I have pleasure in asking Mr. Hobbs to introduce the Company. (Applause.)
MR. FREDERICK HOBBS, on rising, was received with loud applause, renewed again and again. He said:Mr. President and gentlemen, when your very kind invitation to lunch with you was extended to the Company we were asked if we had any speakers, and we replied, emphatically "No." (Laughter.) We can produce singers who I think would be quite adequate to the occasion, but speakers, no; and it is quite unexpected on my part that I should be asked to stand up here and address you at all, but apparently some form of introduction is customary, so I will just call out the name of each member of the Company and ask him to stand, so that you will know which is which.
Mr. Hobbs then called each member of the Octette by name, and as the gentleman rose he was greeted with hearty applause. The following gentlemen responded to the call:- Messrs. J. Dean, T. P. Hughes, R. H. Jackson, Joseph Griffin, R. H. Jones, -H. Aiken, R. Eaton, L. R. Flynn, H. Norris (Conductor).
Mr. Hobbs then continued: I should just like to say it is a great pleasure for us to be here today. During our last tour of Canada we were guests of various societies but I do not think we were ever the guests of the Empire Club, and I am not aware that there is another Empire Club in Canada. (Voices-"Yes, in Winnipeg.") Personally I am very proud to be present at a luncheon of the Empire Club. (Applause.) I was born under the Southern Cross, and I lived most of my life in the Old Country, but I have been in practically every part of the Empire, and lived and worked there for a great many months, and the matter of the Empire is very near and dear to me. At home I talk a great deal to the people about the Empire, and I think they are getting much more interested than they used to be. (Applause.) When I say "talk" I don't mean "speak." (Laughter.) The last time I was here the people said, "Go back to the Old Country and talk about Canada; we want the people there to know more about us and become more interested in us." I promised that I would, and really, gentlemen, I have almost had to apologize to some of my friends for the way I talk about Canada over there. (Hear, hear, and applause.)
Mr. Harry Norris, Conductor, then gave a delightful programme of songs and choruses, including the following, all of which were received with great enthusiasm:
By the Octette--"Merriest Fellows are We," from the Gondoliers; "Who is Sylvia?" by Thomas Dunhill; "John Peel," arranged by Andrew, which was heartily encored; "Lullaby," by Percy Fletcher; "Zut, Zut," by Elgar, intended to illustrate a march in the mass.
By Mr. Hughes-"Song of the Flea," received with laughter and applause. By Mr. Jones-"Sparkling Eyes," from Gondoliers. By Mr. Griffin-"Because I was Shy," with encore, "The Young Maidens." By Mr. Aiekn--"Passing By." By Mr. Flynn--"Past the Line." By Mr. Eaton-"Mollie Brannigan."
Mr. Norris, when a request came for the "Peer's Chorus," said, amid laughter, "It is rather difficult, and I think I might say that the best thing would be to hear it at the Show."
The delightful Recital was closed by Mr. Griffin singing, on special request, "The Englishman," from Pinafore, the audience joining in the chorus with the greatest enthusiasm. The applause was so loud and long that the song was repeated, the whole audience rising and joining in the chorus, and cheering.
Mr. George Wilson, President of the Board of Trade, voiced the thanks of the Club for what he called the magnificent treat that had been so thoroughly enjoyed. He considered it the high-light of this year of the Club. He referred specially to Mr. Norris, the good-natured and humorous Conductor, who was the soul and heart and inspiration of the great Company. While the delightful impressions made by the singing could not be fixed in cold type in the printed report, he had not doubt they would remain in the memories of all who had heard.