The Princess and the Butterfly

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The Ludgate Monthly, 1897 Julie Opp 03.JPG
The Ludgate Monthly, 1897
Theatrical poster for The Princess and the Butterfly by Daniel Frohman's Lyceum Theatre Company. Danielfrohman1.jpg
Theatrical poster for The Princess and the Butterfly by Daniel Frohman's Lyceum Theatre Company.

The Princess and The Butterfly: or, The Fantastics is a comedy in five acts by Arthur Wing Pinero first produced at London’s St. James's Theatre on March 25, 1897 and in New York at the Lyceum Theatre on November 23, 1897. [1] [2] The New York version of The Princess and the Butterfly was somewhat abbreviated from the four-hour production that originally played in London. [3]



[4] [2]

Princess Pannonia is the English-born wife of a Hungarian noble who has spent the last twenty years of her life living in the remote castle of Mornavitza. After her husband dies, the princess returns to London where she falls in love with Sir George Lamorant, an old friend once known as "the butterfly." Their plans to marry though are soon complicated by a shared fear of approaching middle age. [5]

Dramatic Technique, By George Pierce Baker, 1919

In The Princess and the Butterfly, Act I not only disposes of preliminary necessary exposition, but depicts different kinds of restlessness in a group of women at or nearing middle age. Act II does the same for a group of men, and in the proposed duel provides what later may be made to reveal to Sir George how much Fay Zuliani cares for him. Act III complicates the story by showing that Fay is not the niece of Sir George, and illustrates the growing affection between the Princess and Edward Oriel. Act IV reveals to Sir George and Fay how much each cares for the other. The fifth act shows how Sir George and the Princess, who have tried to be wise and restrained, impulsively and instinctively, choose the path of seeming unwisdom but immediate happiness. [6]


The Era commented, "Mr Pinero's latest piece possesses in a high degree the rare and subtle quality of tone. And to deserve this praise though five acts and four hours is such a supreme achievement for a dramatist." [7] The Pall Mall Gazette called the piece "the most interesting of the original plays to be seen at present on the London boards, and probably the most interesting that has been seen on them for a considerable time". [8] The Evening Standard found the play "at once fantastic and true to life … very much indeed of a love story for no fewer than three pairs of lovers are left on the verge of matrimony. [9]

The Opera Glass, 1897, commented on the American production:

Daniel Frohman's stock company returned to the Lyceum, opening in Pinero's, The Princess and the Butterfly. You all know what a Pinero play is; well, this one is just like the others. It tells an impossible story but gives ample opportunity for the men and women to exhibit themselves. Yet the play was a success. There can be no doubt of that. But the success is due to Mr. Frohman's clever company, chief among which is Julie Opp, who appeared in the original production in London. Miss Opp is a beautiful woman and looked and acted the part of the Princess to perfection. The acting of James K. Hackett and Mary Mannering was additional proof of their talent. Mr. Morgan, Mrs. Whitten and Mrs. Walcot were delightful as usual. [10]

The American University Magazine, 1897, said, "The delightful play, The Princess and the Butterfly, will doubtless have a long run at the Lyceum. The public appreciates that It is getting a good deal for one's ticket to have two leading roles with Mary Mannering and Julie Opp to fill them". [11]

Original London and New York Casts

George Alexander as George Lamorant Harvard Theatre Collection - George Alexander TCS 1.294.jpg
George Alexander as George Lamorant
RoleLondonNew York
CatharineEleanor AickinEvelyn Carter
Maxime DemaillyA. RoystonWilliam Courtleigh
FauldingA. W. MunroeJohn Findlay
Annis Marsh Dorothy Hammond Katherine Florence
Mrs. MarshMrs. Kem MisGrace Root
Percival Ord Adolphus Vane-Tempest Seymour George
George Lamorant George Alexander James K. Hackett
Blanche Oriel Mabel Hackney Helen Macbeth
Fay Zuliani Fay Davis Mary Mannering
Bartley LevanGerald Gurney Henry Miller
The Hon Charles DenstroudeFrank R. Mills Ivo Dawson
Edward Oriel H. B. Irving Edward Morgan
Mr. St. Roche H. V. Esmond Felix Morris
Mrs. St. RocheMiss C. Granville Elizabeth Tyree
Mrs. Sabiston Mrs. Cecil Raleigh Nina Morris
Mrs. Ware Julie Opp Alison Skipworth
Adrian MyllsGeorge BancroftH. S. Taber
The Princess Pannonia Julia Neilson Julie Opp
Major-Gen. Sir Robert Chichele, K.C.B H. H. Vincent Charles Walcot
Lady Ringstead Rose Leclercq Mrs. Charles Walcot
Lady ChichelePattie Bell Blanche Whiffen
Lieut.Colonel Arthur EaveC. A. SmithGeorge Alison
Sir James VelleretM. P. R. Daltonn/a
Col. the Hon. Reginald Ughbrook, C.B.C. Staffordn/a
Mrs. UghbrookLeila Reptonn/a
Count Vladislau ReviczkyS. Hamiltonn/a
General YanokoffMr. Richardsn/a
Madame YanokoffEllen Standingn/a

Sources: Arthur Wing Pinero, Playwright: a Study by Hamilton Fyfe, 1902 [12] and Plays of the Present by John Bouvé Clapp and Edwin Francis Edgett, 1902 [13]

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  1. A History of the New York Stage, Volume 3 by Thomas Allston Brown; 1903; pg. 437; Free. Dodd, Mead. 1903. p.  437 . Retrieved 10 October 2013 via Internet Archive. opp.
  2. 1 2 The Catalogue of The American Play Co., with Original Casts, Volume 2; By American Play Company; 1910; pg. 220; Free Google Books. The Company. 1911. p.  220 . Retrieved 10 October 2013 via Internet Archive. The Princess and the Butterfly.
  3. "Pinero's New Play-Boston Evening Transcript; December 11, 1897; pg.18" . Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  4. Pinero, Arthur Wing (1898). "The Princess and The Butterfly: or, The Fantastics. A Comedy in Five Acts by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, 1898; pg. 130; Free Google Books" . Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  5. Nicoll, Allardyce (2009). History of English Drama, 1660-1900 - Allardyce Nicoll - 2009 - Google Books. ISBN   9780521129367 . Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  6. Dramatic Technique, By George Pierce Baker, 1919; pg. 202; Free. Houghton Mifflin. 1919. p.  202 . Retrieved 10 October 2013 via Internet Archive. The Princess and The Butterfly plot.
  7. "The London Theatres", The Era, 3 April 1897, p. 10
  8. "The Comedy of Middle Age", The Pall Mall Gazette, 30 March 1897, p. 1
  9. "Mr Pinero's New Play at the St James's", The Evening Standard, 30 March 1897, p. 3
  10. "The Opera Glass, 1897; pg. 140; Free Google Books". 1897. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  11. Faulkner, A. U.; Ovington, Spenser O. M. (1 January 1970). "The American University Magazine, Volume 6, Issues 1-2: edited by A. U. Faulkner, Spenser O. M. Ovington; 1897; pg. 265; Free Google Books" . Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  12. Fyfe, Hamilton. Arthur Wing Pinero, Playwright: a Study, 1902, p. 247
  13. Clapp, John Bouvé and Edwin Francis Edgett. Plays of the Present, 1902, p. 217