Last night Lincoln was favored with the best comic opera of this or of many seasons. Mr. De Wolf Hopper and his company played "Panjandrum" to a packed and crowded house at the Lansing last night. To say that there were four curtain calls at the end of the first act and six recalls in the middle of the third shows the feelings of the audience. The feelings of the critic are somewhat hard to control and one is sorely tempted to do what the audience did do, give way completely to admiration. "Panjandrum" is a better comic opera than "The Fencing Master" because it is funny. An opera should be comic or romantic, it should not just hang upon the ragged edge of either. The music is lively and unobtrusive and the libretto is as inane as possible. The opera is absolutely without plot, characterizations and situations, but the attitudes are charming, particularly the one in the barrel the one on the barrel, the ones at the palace, in fact, all those in which Miss Fox and Mr. Hopper were together.
Mr. Hopper is not a great singer, but he is a genuine comedian and he has the good sense not to try to play tragedy because nature made him for comedy. He has the comic instinct and immense proportions and a few little tricks of the voice that of themselves would make a great comedian. When big men are funny they are excruciatingly funny, much more so than little men, there is so much more of him to be funny. Every portion of Mr. Hopper's very extensive frame can twist itself into fun, pure and simple. Above all he has eyes that can do anything.
Miss Della Fox is as indescribable as she is audacious and as delicious as she is audacious. She is little, very little beside Mr. Hopper's awful bigness, and captivating, and in the fullest sense of the word, she is chic. She is undoubtedly the most popular woman on the stage just now. When the "Dramatic News" was rash enough to publish her picture they sold out all their issue and by the constant demand of the public were forced to reprint the picture in the next issue. Many actresses have in them all the elements of success, but Della Fox has success, which is quite a different thing. She has the dash and natural flippancy of a comedienne. She carries mirth in her face and has laughter hidden away in her eyes. She has only to move her foot and the house feels happy, she has only to wink her eye and it laughs, she has only to faint on a barrel and hundreds of people are carried away by convulsions of laughter. She has a sort of personal magnetism of mirth about her. There is nothing really pretty in her face, yet she was bewitching as a blonde, fascinating as a brunette, and because of her vivacity altogether lovely.
The chorus was strong and all the members of the company sang well, with perhaps the exception of Miss Grace Golden , who sang several tremulous solos on the subject of love. The scenery was beautiful and the costumes gorgeous. From Carmen down operas with the scene in Spain are blessed with fine opportunities for rich costumes, and Borneo is still more alluring. Miss Ida Fuller's dancing was the most beautiful ever done on the Lansing stage. The effects, cloud drapery and color were dazzling and superb. As for the company, compared with Marie Tempest's company they are so far superior that Miss Post and Mr. Steger could not find them with a telescope. Even the chorus girls could sing and were pretty. When a comic opera furnishes pretty chorus girls it has reached the highest degree of civilization and christian charity that a comic opera can attain.