Monday, 22 April 2013

Gilbert and Sullivan - supreme fun

First day done. Back in the musical saddle!

There is quite a lot of sickness still hanging around, and a few of my pupils are unable to sing this week, so they will have to wait until next week to resume 'therapy', but on the whole it was a good day!

My pair of interchangeable Ruths in Pirates both come on Mondays. It is almost schizophrenic, teaching them within a couple of hours of each other. One is my gold dust alto, for whom the tessitura of Ruth's music is a positive doodle, and the other is my last years' Lady Angela, whose voice seems to be on the way back up after recovering from the birth of her little daughter, who was a year old last week. For her, much of the music is transposed up a whole third simply to make it possible. She is so laid back, the differences in pitch, or in upping the octave here and there, flow past her and become absorbed by gentle osmosis!

So I have a totally traditional, richly rounded Ruth on one hand, and a bright voiced, almost soprano version, and both will be thoroughly splendid !

Our Pirate King will be with us at tomorrow's rehearsal, which means that I will almost have a full compliment of soloists - this makes it so much easier to block moves, and is usually a joy which does not manifest itself until two weeks before curtain up!

I love Pirates of Penzance. It is so rollicking, so funny and so full of great tunes, I can never understand the snobbery which is ever present when one discusses Gilbert and Sullivan in and around the professional fraternity. It is just as formulaic as Lloyd Webber, or Verdi or even Handel for that matter. The fact is the technical side of the singing, especially the arias and ensembles, need just as solid a vocal technique as one needs for Mozart or Britten. To perform a flawless Josephine or Nanki Poo is difficult, and as filled with vocal pitfalls as any other genre of music.

The style is so very adaptable, it can be used most successfully for school children, for amateur groups with wide ages and voice types, and by fine professionals with innovative producers. Remember the unforgettable Jonathan Miller production of The Mikado, it is still going on to full and enthusiastic audiences at ENO, 20 years or so after its inception. It is witty, clever, almost pastiche in places, but always true to Gilbert and Sullivan - and I feel certain the wonderful duo themselves would have loved the updating of the show.

Long live William Schwenk Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan.


Three delightful little maids from school.......

The punishment for beheading the heir to the throne of Japan is something lingering, with boiling oil in it.....


  1. What lovely pictures. I love Gilbert and Sullivan! I teach theatre to home school students and we did a Gilbert and Sullivan number, "With Cat-Like Tread" for a show of ours. It was enormous fun and I never tired of rehearsing it. It made me laugh every time! It does sound like you live in paradise, for a fact!

  2. Sorry I didn't reply! I did not pick up your comment until now! Yes I is great Un, and yes, I do live in paradise ! Kind regards, Ann