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no. 307

Saturday, 2 August 2003

At Home, a musical comedietta by Max Roger,
with Arlette Dorgère and Fernand Frey,
Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, London, 10 May 1909

Arlette Dorgère

Arlette Dorgère

(photo: Reutlinger, Paris, 1912)

'Mlle. Arlette Dorgère and M. Fernand Frey appeared for the first time last night [10 May 1909] in a musical comedietta called At Home, by Max Rogers. The plot of the thing all rests on that amusing creature M. Frey; he appears as M. Cabriole, of the Folies Bergères, who having fallen in love with Mlle. Dorgère on that stage makes his way into her flat. Repulsed, he reappears, disguised first as a composer who is expected to call on the lady with a view to giving her a part in his new opera, and again as an elderly baron, whose 70 years fall of him under her genial influence so rapidly that she begs him not to grow any younger lest he should end by being a mere baby. Very well, says M. le Baron, I will stop at 20; and with the words off come his grey wig and false nose, and the undisguised Cabriole falls into the arms of the relenting fair one. So we have three M. Freys, and all droll. As Cabriole he romps and weeps; as the composer he sings all the parts, and the chorus too, of his opera; as the baron he dances. Mlle. Dorgère dances with him an ecstatic waltz, gown, and lady are quite enough, all together, to set the audience shouting with joy. Mlle. Dorgère sings too; but did the same voice belong to some one less worthy [of] description by Mantalini [a character in Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby] or Sir Chichester Frayne [a character in Pinero's The Gay Lord Quex], it might not perhaps be received so rapturously as it is. Even so, a blind man would enjoy it. [The ballets] On the Square and Psyche are both still popular, and among other good things in the programme are the ventriloquism of Thora (there is a secret about this which we do not intend to reveal) and the brilliant Indian club play of the Mowatts.' (The Times, London, Tuesday, 11 May 1909, p.8a. Thora was both a ventriloquist and a female impersonator.)

'Among the many foreign artists introduced by Mr. Alfred Moul [manager of the Alhambra] few have so graciously and attractive a personality as Mlle. Arlette Dorgère, who last year – the apogee of the entente cordiale - took the Britisher captive with her agreeable, pretty, and very attractive entertainment. Offered the part of the "Dollar Princess" by Mr. George Edwardes, the fair Parisienne was unable to accept through indisposition, but returned on Monday [10 May 1909] to the Leicester-square house to further ingratiate herself and to repeat her triumphs. In At Home, a musical comedietta by Max Roger, Mlle. Dorgère represents a very popular stage favourite, who is quite naturally besieged with admirers. Just before mademoiselle's return to her boudoir her maid ushers in one of them, who entirely fails to find favour with her. She peremptorily orders him out, and gives instructions that in future he is not to be admitted. Not to be denied, he disguises himself as a composer, with flowing locks, and in this rôle is much more acceptable to the lady, who deigns to sing one of his compositions. Incidentally, too, before his departure he amuses her by his burlesque tenor, baritone, contralto, and soprano. Returning as a silver-haired gallant of seventy, he is a model of courtly devotion. His age is a stumbling block to his success as a lover; but his remarkable agility as a dancer betrays his youth, and in the end he will only confess to thirty years. At the same time he doffs his white wig, and the boldness and ingenuity of his wooing are rewarded with success, the sketch ending in a dance à deux. Mlle. Arlette Dorgère, whose beauty of figure is displayed in superb costume, and whose hat was pronounced a dream by a lady admirer on Monday, sang several solos with undeniable charm, and her reception was most enthusiastic on the opening night, when she was loaded with bouquets. She is loyally supported by M. Fernand Frey.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 15 May 1909, p.18a)

Arlette Dorgère

Arlette Dorgère

(photo: Reutlinger, Paris, circa 1904)

Among Arlette Dorgère's earliest appearances in Paris was at the théâtre des Variétés on 16 April 1903 in Claude Terrasse's operetta, Le Sire de Vergy, with Albert Brasseur, Anna Tariol-Baugé, Jeanne Saulier and Eve Lavallière. With several engagements between, including the role of Marquise de Bay in L’ingenu libertin at the Bouffes Parisienes in 1907, Mlle. Dorgère appeared there again in 1912 as Colette in La bonne veille Coutume, and Ginette de Chantenay in La part du feu. Later in 1912 she featured among the cast at La Cigale in the revue Arrête, Arrêtez, Chauffeur!

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