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"Voce, voce, voce."Italian for voice. He was impressing their vocal talent's importance, as well as the need to breathe and be heard properly.
Actually, many of the surviving letters that Gilbert wrote to his wife would seem to indicate otherwise, and it is a known fact that they were a very social couple, entertaining guests at dinner parties and attending many London events together.
Braham was a struggling alcoholic, and her heavy drinking began to impede her ability to meet the demands of rehearsals and performances. She would be let go from the Savoy company in 1885 after secretly marrying and becoming pregnant, which not only hindered her future availability, but it also ran counter to the virginal character she was portraying at the time.
She developed an abscess in a leg a few years prior that never fully healed, and it actually caused her problems throughout her stage career. Surprisingly, Sullivan's diary stated that he and Gilbert visited her during her periods of infirmity, which showed that both (and probably the Savoy management) were aware of her condition.
Grossmith was well known for having bad nerves and even suffered from insomnia, but the foundation of the idea of his having used drugs to get through performances dates back to a 1935 biography of Gilbert & Sullivan, the specific passage of which was largely gossip among the theater circle compacted into an anecdote. While others point to mention of punctured arms at Grossmith's 1912 autopsy inquest, no hard evidence was ever found.
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