Folio, pp. 19, ; title-page dusty, final leaf creased, but a good copy, disbound.
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Report … to the Right Hon. the Secretary of State of the Home Department concerning the Fire which occurred at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, on the 5th of September 1887 …
First edition of Shaw’s account of the disastrous fire at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, in 1887.
Shaw (1828-1908), superintendent of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, was responsible for introducing numerous advances in fire safety in London, particularly to public venues. His treatise Fires in Theatres (1876, second edition in 1889), was followed by a ‘massive report’ on that subject in 1882 (Oxford DNB). His personal bravery in the role was matched by his easy mingling with the notables of the age, and he is now best remembered for a tribute in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe.
The theatre in Exeter was rebuilt in 1889 to new, more fire-conscious designs by Alfred Derbyshire (1839-1908), himself an amateur actor.
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First edition of Baron’s last literary endeavour, a violent revenge tragedy influenced by Jonson’s Catiline, mostly in verse, packed with political intrigue, murders ‘and Seraglio’s too’, all fitting subjects for its exotic setting. Not intended for performance, which been impossible during the Commonwealth, it was meant instead to be ‘read and carefully digested’ and is, ‘by the standards of its day, an exceptionally long and elaborate play’ (Birchwood, Staging Islam in England).
[LAFONT, Joseph de.]
Hypermnestre, tragedie, mise au theatre de l’Academie Royale de Musique de Lyon, pour la prémière fois en 1742. Le prix est de douze sols.
Very scarce Lyon edition of the libretto for the tragedy Hypermnestre by the French playwright Joseph de Lafont (1686-1725). First performed in 1716, with music by Charles-Hubert Gervais, the play was initially criticised for its fifth act, but after rewriting by abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin enjoyed considerable success both with the public and at court. Lafont died at the age of 39, succumbing to his affection for wine.
In 1742 Hypermnestre was performed for the first time at the Royal Academy of Music in Lyon, and this edition gives the names of the singers, actors and actresses who performed. The title role was played by Mlle Louise Jacquet (b. 1722) who began her singing career at the Paris Opera in 1738 and subsequently moved to Aix-en-Provence. An attractive portrait of her was painted by Jean-Etienne Liotard.
In Greek mythology, Hypermnestra was one of the fifty daughters of Danaus, king of Argos, who defied her father by refusing to kill her husband Lynceus.
We have traced only 3 copies, at the BnF, BM Lyon, and the Library of Congress.