It seems like ages since we did any. In fact, most in the choir were not members when we last did it. But everything has its season, and we think the time has come at last, for another shot at something that usually pops up as a fully-fledged stage show, but when we do it, comes in the form of a full choir presentation. Don't look so mystified. The title is the clue. We are doing a concert of GILBERT and SULLIVAN (capital letters and bold, just in case you missed it). I know. I can hear you all asking, “But you are a serious choir. You do Bach and Brahms, and Mozart. Why are you doing light opera?” Well it goes like this: The two characters mentioned above were the Hit Parade leaders of their time. Their work could probably be called the precursor to the modern musical. In an age before sound recording, the public clamoured for their next offering. Each new light opera was rushed onto the stage as soon as possible after the music and script was released. People hummed and sang the best tunes in the street. A new stage industry called G&S was created with the D'Oyle Carte Opera Company churning out G&S for 100 years up to 1982. On their coat tails were a worldwide variety of professional theatre groups, amateur operatic societies, secondary school drama groups, and groups of all types, who did G&S. I remember as a child between the ages of 6 and 12, being taken to see the Hamilton High School productions of G&S. My parents never missed – probably because 3 of my sisters featured in those shows at various times! Yes, G&S was a musical phenomenon for many years, and while it is more on the musical “back burner” than it used to be, it is an easy task to find G&S productions occurring in countries worldwide.
But we are a choir. We do not pretend to be thespians. So we will do our G&S as a concert production, and here is our cunning plan:
- As part of our year with a particular community emphasis, We will do it in Katikati, at St Paul's Church, a great venue seating upwards of 250.
- It will be on Sunday 26th August at 3.00pm. The cost will be minimal - $15.00 adults, and school aged children $5. Door sales only.
- We are picking the best of G&S, from The Mikado, Yeomen of the Guard, Pirates of Penzance, the Gondoliers, Patience, HMS Pinafore, etc.
- We will be mixing things up – solos sung by the entire choir, or choir sections. Solos sung by the very best of our singers. Small combinations of various sorts. Just about everything you can imagine is going to happen. It will be a choral presentation, but it's G&S for heaven’s sake, so you can expect some clowning around, and a bit of hamming it up. We are going to have fun.
Come and enjoy tuneful songs and hilarious lyrics. It's going to be a blast! Yes, we really are celebrating the music and lyrics of two of the most debated characters in the world of light opera. How did such a disparate pair, who spent most of their musical association fighting and scrapping, turn out such an assortment of musical contradictions and slightly mad lyrics? How did they maintain the quality of their output when they were often at each other's throats? How could they write the Mikado, when their knowledge of Japanese culture was limited to pottery and porcelain? Why are some of the tunes banal and repetitious, and others glorious melodies, loved and hummed by millions? There are lovers of G&S worldwide, and stage productions are always well attended. I guess that whether you love it or hate it, G&S is the output of two genuine, if slightly eccentric geniuses. In their era, they could do no wrong. In ours, we can giggle at the inanities in the lyrics; genuinely laugh at the mad humour; grin at the unconscious racism, sexism, chauvinism, cultural ignorance, and downright condescension (Most of their output would be condemned by the PC police today); luxuriate in the glorious melodies; beat time to, and singalong with, the rollicking choruses; and have a great hour or so of smiles, belly laughs, and a thoroughly good time. Don't miss it!!!! A bit of G and S.
Written by John Wanhill