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Opera: Gilbert & Sullivan concert



My original post:
Has anyone ever done a concert version of a G&S production. Is there
such a thing as a concert package that would take care of the synopsis -
by using a narrator, perhaps? Any leads would be appreciated.
Thanks.
Doug Rose
Drose(a)albion.edu

Dr. Douglas Rose
drose(a)albion.edu
Music Department
Albion College
Albion, MI 49224
517-629-0251
And the responses--thanks to all!!
***
There are lots of different ways to present G&S in concert and many
different programs with different kinds of connections have been
written. It is really more of a question of either finding someone who
has
done this in the past and would let you have what they did, or, and
this is
my preferred option, deciding what you want on the program and then
writing
your own connections.

For example, a program called "Right Down Regular Royal Queen" which
emphasizes G&S and the various views of the monarchy and other systems
of
Government. If you have a strong drama Department, you could arrange
to
have this hosted by Queen Victoria and either Prince Albert or Mr.
Brown...

Or you could go with the "topsy-turvy" world of Gilbert and Sullivan
and
just do a chronological program. The BBC did one of these at Royal
Albert
Hall "hosted" by Gilbert and Sullivan.

The nice thing is that the information is now readily available and
lots of
people would be more than happy to help out.
***
There is a 4 volume set entitled "The Immortal Operas of Gilbert and
Sullivan" which was published by The 'News Chronicle' Publications
Dept.
(date unknown - it does not appear on the flyleaf of my set) "by
arrangement
with Chappell & Co Ltd and JB Cramer & Co Ltd. I don't suppose they
are
still in print, but they are widely available in secondhand shops this
side
of 'the pond'. They are not complete versions, but do include all the
major
choruses, ensembles and arias with a piece of synopsis linking each of
them.

I have personally taken part in numerous full concert versions. In
this
events the narrator's script was generally drawn from the same books -
or
adapted from a CD booklet!
***
This year we had a wonderful concert version of HMS Pinafore. Because
the chorus did not have to learn the music by heart many joined us
who would not have done. We had a chorus of over 100 singers. Many of
our tenors were ladies - straight out of The Bumboat Woman's Story!

The soloists were in costumes that suggested their character and they
did act as they sang or were sung to (limited by the confines of a
concert stage). The links were achieved by a narrator - in our case
it was Captain Corcoran. He managed to incorporate many topical
references.

An excellent evening!
***
Contact Mike and Debbie Baad (a) dbaadrn(a)citlink.net. They run an
operetta
company that specializes in G (a) S.
***
As I see it, you can take two or three approaches to an in-concert
performance.

In the first case, you may assume a certain familiarity with the canon
from
the audience point of view and just perform the musical numbers. If
you
want to go a step further, it would not be terribly difficult to write
a
short narration to accompany the singing. This would be a great
opportunity to get a local public figure or celebrity in on the
performance. You may also consider doing the dialogue with the music
but I
would suggest that too much of the visual aspect of the dialogue (does
that
make sense??) would be lost. I think the narration would be a better
choice.

A second possibility would be to print a synopsis in the program but I

think that you would lose the immediacy of the story line this
way. Besides, I wouldn't want to have an audience constantly shuffling

pages looking for the context of a particular aria or chorus. You
might,
however, depending upon the level of G&S familiarity you assume your
audience to have, print selected chorus texts for them to join in.
This
has worked very well at galas held here and the audience seemed to
really
get up for this level of participation.

I hope this is of some help. I hope, too, that other "Netters will
respond
with their thoughts and ideas. In any case, please be sure to let us
know
when you are doing something like this because you may be surprised
just
how much of a response you get! By the way, there is a very active G&S

group in Ann Arbor.
***
At the last Buxton G&S festival, found a book on this:

Taylor, Ian. How to Produce Concert Versions of Gilbert & Sullivan.
Woodstock, N.Y.: Beekman Publishers, 1972. 249 p. ISBN 0-8464-0494-X
The author advocates perfoming the songs with a linking narrative
spoken by
one of the "characters". The performers' dress would suggest an
appropriate costume and there would be some limited movement. The book

contains suggested texts for the shows (possibly not Utopia or Grand
Duke -
I can't check as I've lent the book to the producer of a concert
Ruddigore.)

I have performed a number of G&S shows in concert. It has generally
been
semi-staged - some movement by soloists and most if not all of the
spoken
dialogue. This can work well if the soloists are decent actors. The
other
way is to replace the dialogue by a narrator. As well as Ian Taylor's

suggestion I have produced a performance where the narrator was not one
of
the soloists. I can't remember exactly where the narration came from,
but
I think I adapted it from a sysnopsis. In this particular case we were

able to dress the theatre we used with an appropriate stage cloth.

I have also seen two concert G&S performances that were part of the
Proms
in London, with leading british G&S singers in the solo roles.

My experience is that concert G&S works well if it is not practical to

produce a staged show. It was my introduction to both watching and
performing G&S and led to me performing regularly in various music
theatre
productions in the twenty tears since.

I hope this is useful.
***
The Sudbury Savoyards of Sudbury, MA performed a concert G&S revue in
October
2001 entitled "Places,Please" with full orchestra combined with a
performance
of Trial by Jury. Neither has narration.

Here's a description of "Places, Please":

"The New England premiere of this choral and symphonic compilation
of
the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan by the Durham Savoyards' Maestro
Benjamin
Keaton. Each of the four movements explores a certain type of song
found in
the G&S operas: (I) Entrances, (II) Love Songs and Madrigals, (III)
Chatter
Patter, and (IV) Exits and Finale."

Everyone was in costume from one or another of the G&S operas, with a
bit
action in front of the chorus.

Trial by Jury was semi-staged in front of the chorus, with all leads
in
appropriate costume.

Here's a link to more information: www.sudburysavoyards.org or
http://www.sudburysavoyards.org/shows/fortieth_2001/

Cheers & good luck.
***












Dr. Douglas Rose
drose(a)albion.edu
Music Department
Albion College
Albion, MI 49224
517-629-0251