Paul Johnson | 13 Jun 2015 23:22pm
It’s hard to go far wrong with The Gondoliers. It includes some of Sullivan’s loveliest music (that exquisite farewell quartet at the end of Act 1..) some of Gilbert’s most timeless astute lines (“When everyone is somebody, then noone’s anybody”) along with plenty of dancing and the potential for beautiful Venetian scenery and costumes. As ever the Swaffham Bulbeck Summer Festival, directed by the indefatigable Lynne Bullen, who also sings the (delightfully imperious) Duchess, does a most enjoyable job with this fine show. And I’ve rarely seen the Downing Farm barn so full: packed to the gunwhales on Friday night which must be very satisfying for the company.
Gavin Jarvis and Will Hale as Marco and Guiseppe play pleasingly off each other and they look good too with Jarvis much taller than Hale which, oddly, highlights the difference between Jarvis’s penetrating “Take a pair of sparkling eyes” tenor voice and Hale’s softer, somehow witter, baritone. Caille Peri, a strong, clear soprano and an accomplished actor is outstanding as Gianetta and Sally Donaghey warms into the mezzo Tessa after a slightly unassuming start.
Richard Morris has such enviable stage presence as the Grand Inquisitor that he’s a joy to watch. His acting – a tremendous lascivious, lustful and hilarious attraction to both Gianetta and Tessa – is inspired. And his chocolatey bass voice and impeccable diction make “There is no doubt” and “There lived a king” into real highlights. The comparatively weaker Plaza-Toro scenes are enhanced by Anna Murgatroyd as Casilda with her accurate, sweet singing and thoughtful acting. As her love interest, Luiz, Timothy Winn is a valuable singer.
One of the best things in this production is the duet, trio, quartet and quintet work. There has clearly been a great deal of careful attention to detail and the results really show. I have rarely heard, for example, “In a contemplative fashion” so well sung and the farewell quartet – a lifelong favourite of mine – brought a tear to my eye which is always a good sign. Full marks for intonation and musical crispness. The chorus does reasonably well too although there’s some wooden acting, too few altos and some of the men don’t seem to know the words.
All of this is expertly underpinned by a twelve piece band conducted by Angela Roebuck. I really like the string free arrangement with wind, brass, percussion and piano – a sensible and effective compromise when a full orchestra isn’t an option.
- : admin
- : 12/06/2015