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King Gallinipper—A Comic Opera in Three Acts

King Gallinipper Manuscript

The famous painter of dogs playing poker did more with his life than just create anthropomorphic gamblers. Surprisingly, Cassius Coolidge planned and wrote an opera, titled King Gallinipper. It dealt with eliminating a mosquito epidemic that New York and New Jersey were experiencing at the time. He designed the costumes and the scenery as well. It was produced and shown on stage by a cast of amateurs in April of 1894.

In the spring of 2008, Doyle New York auctioned an original copy of the King Gallinipper manuscript, as part of Marcella Coolidge’s (Cassius’s daughter) estate. The auction included illustrations for an unpublished illustrated edition, a 148 page musical score, and a photograph of the original cast. Unfortunately I have no further details or images of these items.

Original Showing

On April 19, 1894, the New York Times ran the following brief advertisement for King Gallinipper (original article [Link to Portable Document Format (PDF) File]):

The Manhattan Athletic Dramatic Club will give “King Gallinipper,” an operatic burlesque in two acts by Cassius M. Coolidge and Alvah K. Le Rue, at the club theatre on the afternoons of April 28, 29, and 30. The opera is a “take-off” on the much abused Jersey mosquitoes. The play will be produced under the direction of William A. Courtland.

A week later a much more in depth article was run, detailing the play (original article [Link to Portable Document Format (PDF) File]):

“King Gallinipper”
Adventures of Tourists In His Realm Presented By Amateurs.

A dress rehearsal of “King Gallinipper” was held last night in the theatre of the Manhattan Athletic Club. This is the moving title of a musical burlesque to be given by members of the club and their friends and for which Prof. Carl Marwig has been wearing away his gray matter for weeks past, drilling choruses and inventing dances. The piece was written by Cassius M. Coolidge. It is proclaimed on the bill to be “purely American,” and the music is bright and pleasing.

The story is of the marital and amorous adventures of certain human tourists in the realm of Gallinipper, King of the Mosquitoes. The scene is laid in Box Hollow Park, New-Jersey [sic], and in the Mosquito Palace. The first performance will be given in the club theater to-night [sic], and the piece will be repeated to-morrow [sic] and Saturday evenings and at 2 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Much time, money, and labor have been expended by everybody connected with the entertainment, and the advance sale of seats is already large. Over sixty persons take part in the play, among them being only a few professional people to steady the stage. Especially good is the skirt dancing of Miss Aydelotte, and there is a brisk song by Miss Lyllian Poole, which the chorus helps to make effective. A “serpentine dance” by Miss Lambert will win much applause. The Hon. Walton Storm, widely suspected of having been an honest and lonely Alderman, is one of the hardworking comedians. The opera is produced under the direction of William A. Courtland. Following are the principle members of the cast:

King GallinipperMr. J.J.K. Hackett
Prince of TuxedoMr. A.D. Benson
PolicemanJ.S. Quinn
Princess of Staten IslandMiss Lyllian Poole
MargaretMiss E. Wright
PageMiss F. Blane
FrolicMiss Lambert
Judge McFidMr. Charles Maurice
Mr. BrownMr. Albert G. Thies
Mr. BlackMr. Walton Storm
Miss McFidMiss Irene Patrick
Mrs. McFidMiss Silver
SchoolmistressMiss Josephine Bassett
MaidMiss L. Mulford
Auxiliary Characters

Mosquitoes by the Misses Page, Blane, Jewel, Wickes, Snowden, Thorn, Sarnignet, Youther, Lambert, and Wilkins; and the Messrs. Fouquet, Gale, Ward, Eakins, Betting, Boyd, Atkinson, Howland, Marquana, Landon, Lent, Judson, Campbell, and Ing. Tourists by the Misses Mulford, Campbell, Schlensinger, Neal, Staples, Charles, Kay Murray, Churchhill, Silver, Best, Crossley, and Wilton’ and Messrs. Tomlinson, McCulloh, Gale, Hawkins, Eakins, Irving, Thompson, Jackson, and Knobloch.


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran a short, positive review of the play (original article [Link to Portable Document Format (PDF) File] - sixth column, about a third of the way down):

The Manhattan athletic club dramatic association scored a success with “King Gallinipper,” which was produced for the first time in the Club theater, Madison avenue and Forty-fifth Street, New York, last night. The theater was crowded and the burlesque opera can be said to have been successfully produced. There will be three other performances to-night, to-morrow night and Saturday matinee. This is the first attempt on the part of the M.A.C. dramatic association to produce amateur opera, and, in view of the fact that the production of “King Gallinipper” was attended with success, the association has under contemplation the production of this opera at Philadelphia, Washington and Boston.
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