Heritage Press: The First Night by Gilbert and Sullivan (1958)

February 8, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The First Night by Gilbert and Sullivan (1958)

The First Night by Gilbert & Sullivan (1958)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork: A variety of contemporary illustrations from the time period
Foreword by Bridget D’Oyly Carte, and edited by Reginald Allen
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #291/26th Series V. 12 in 1958

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – Green boards and a broad red spine make up this cover, with a nice embossed flower design by the border.  I’ll let Django2694 provide some info on the LEC original, and the Sandglass is at the end:

The Monthly Letter in my LEC Gilbert & Sullivan has the following information:

The LEC edition marked the first time all the G&S libretto’s were collected and printed in a single edition. It is also the first time an LEC book carried a dedication by its own editor, Reginald Allen–a touching one because it is dedicated to the editor’s mother and father; the father having founded the Savoy Company to do amateur theatrical presentations of the works of G&S, and the mother having been one of the young thesps, the two meeting during the course of the initial presentation. The father died young in WW I but the love of G&S was passed on to their offspring. Mr. Allen, after graduating from Harvard, was hired by Leopold Stokowski to write the programmes for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and after Stokowski left, became the orchestra’s manager until 1939 when he was hired to head the story department at Universal Pictures (this was during their heyday as purveyors of horror movies, including “The Phantom of the Opera,” (Claude Rains version). After service in WW II in the Pacific, Allen returned to Hollywood and worked for the J. Arthur Rank Organization, then from 1949 until 1958 was business manager of the Metropolitan Opera. At the time of editing the G&S book, he was serving as executive director of operations for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

If all this weren’t sufficient to give the LEC edition some editorial authority, and rarely did any Monthly Letter give so much space to talking about the editor, Mr. Allen had a collaborator–Bridget D’Oyly Carte, granddaughter of the D’Oyly Carte who first brought G&S to the theater.

Eugene Ettenberg designed the book, chose Times Roman for the typeface, and John Stone of Brattleboro, VT did the composition. The titles are printed in reproductions of Victorian display types. The paper is Bethany, slightly grayish in tone and made by the Curtis Paper Company. The binding on the LEC is half red velvet on the spine with a leather title label with gold titles. The front and back covers are green linen. The slipcase is covered with gold paper and edged in green linen, courtesy of Russell-Rutter bindery. The slipcase also encloses a portfolio of the facsimiles of all the first-night programs. Truly one of the most spectacular LEC bindings. The Twelfth volume in the Twenty-sixth series.

Slipcase – This one is a little large so it can hold both the book and the box of program facsimiles together.

Title Page – For Gilbert & Sullivan fans, this is a treat.  The fourteen librettos are all here, and are all from the premiere performance, so you’ll be reading them the way they were originally performed!  The LEC and Heritage Press also included programs in facsimile form, which I’ve taken shots of the Heritage collection and added them below.  Reginald Allen was responsible for editing the book, and also provided insights to the operas in prologues to each opera.  Bridget D’Oyly Carte serves up a foreword.  For this volume, the two presses hunted down a heap of art from several sources that were published in Gilbert & Sullivan’s time regarding the operas, which gives the book a nice vintage feel.

Page 57 – Illustration Credit: Savoy Prog. (likely Savoy Theater Program)

Page 217 – Illustration Credit: Illustrated London News (Illus. Lon. News)

Page 261 – Illustration Credit: Harper’s Weekly

Box Containing Program Facsimiles


Personal Notes – I know very little about Gilbert and Sullivan, but found the book to be pretty interesting on inspection.  I’ve seen the LEC edition, which is also very nice.  However, since I merely checked it out from the Mariposa library, that’s about all I have to say.


Updated 10/16/2011


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