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Vol. XXV No. 6
 You've caught it nicely!

SUNDAY, May 13 at 2:00 PM
G&S Master Class with Eileen St. David

 In This Issue: 

 

Articles

Reviews 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A GILBERT AND SULLIVAN MASTER CLASS
taught by
EILEEN ST. DAVID,
with accompaniment by
ERIC SCHWARTZ

(How to get there
)

Sunday, May 13 at 2:00 PM 

The scene of March's Last Minute Light Opera IDA will be the scene of new triumphs in May: Fair neophytes who thirst for instruction will gather to learn from Eileen's expertise, and to sing for our enjoyment.

We'll be hearing from new member Elaine Crane, membership chair Janice Dallas, and valued performers Dan Kamalic and Tony Parkes.

We have room for two more performers, and two alternates. If you'd like to take part in this Master Class, e-mail Program Chair Art Dunlap, or phone Carl Weggel at (978) 474-0396. (You can leave a detailed message on Carl's answering machine.) Let us know what song you'd like to sing, so that Eileen and Eric can prepare.

Eileen is an expert in all aspects of G&S performance: she has been a director and voice teacher for many years, on both coasts of this continent. And Eric is an excellent and experienced accompanist. Come to enjoy the music, and to learn from these masters!

If you still have last year's June Bray, you can read a description of last year's excellent class. Or you can visit the article on-line.

-- mlc 

  

MARCH MEETING: LAST MINUTE LIGHT OPERA COMPANY SCORES AGAIN! PRINCESS IDA was this year's vehicle for yet another worthy entry in our Society's venerable performing tradition. An enthusiastic cast made good use of the, um, cozy confines of Arlington's Park Avenue Congregational Church Hall stage to deliver an energetic, if not highly polished, performance of our heroes' "respectful perversion", ably accompanied by the Last-Minute Light Orchestra, building on its rousing debut in last year's LMLO show.

It perhaps goes without saying that the voices were good or better. Such is the wealth of talent available to the LMLO Company that certain of the principal roles were split to take full advantage of available resources. Princess Ida was Marion Leeds Carroll in Act II, but it fell to Janice Dallas to deal with disappointment, defeat and, in the end, detente, in Act III. Ray O'Hare was Act I's ill-tempered King Gama, while Irv Hodgkin, in resplendent costume, albeit more Moorish than Hungarian, was the more-or-less chastened Gama of Act III. Lee Patterson was Hilarion start to finish, though, and Bob Russell persisted throughout as King Hildebrand. Other notable principals included Ellen Spear as Lady Psyche, Randi Kesten as Melissa and Peter Cameron as Arac. Larry Seiler was a highly demonstrative Cyril. And particularly notable was Dave Leigh as Lady Blanche, displaying a remarkable contralto falsetto.

The afternoon's enjoyment owed much to the direction of Conductor David Larrick, whose keen perception and firm hand coped effectively with the little rhythmic lapses to which such impromptu performances are subject. And the contribution of Organizer Vic Godin's 28-member Last-Minute Orchestra cannot be over-emphasized. Its quick sensitivity to Larrick's direction and its general musicality matched any of the area's regular G&S aggregations.

[Visit the web page Ron Dallas has posted, full of photos he took at the meeting! - mlc]

-- GAMA, REX 

Tentative Meeting Schedule, 2000-2001 

5/13 Master Class with Eileen St David
6/10 Elections/Fantasy Day

Next Bray Copy Deadline: May 13, 2001

Next Bray Stuffing: Sunday, May 20 at 3:00 PM at 111 Fairmont St, Arlington, MA. Call Us at (781) 646-9115 evenings and weekends, or send email to marion@leedscarroll.com for directions to Our slightly-damp but easy-to-get-to home. -mlc

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome We New Members Elaine Crane, Josh Katzen, Gene Reid, Bruce Rogers, Charlotte Swartz, and Pace G. Willisson.

Elaine tells us, "I am a classically trained soprano, who two years ago was introduced to, fell in love with, and began performing the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. I have thus far sung in MIKADO (Yum-Yum), PIRATES (Edith), SORCERER (Constance) and TRIAL (First Bridesmaid), and I cannot wait to do more! I have performed with Savoyard Light Opera Company (PIRATES ) and Salisbury Lyric Opera (MIKADO , SORCERER, TRIAL). I also have a degree in Vocal Performance from Boston Conservatory. [Wonderful! -- We're looking forward to hearing you at the Master Class next month!]

Gene tells us: "I am 62. When my brother went away to college he left behind a record with HMS Pinafore on it. I have enjoyed G&S ever since. I attended several performances of the D'Oyly Carte Company when they were here in the 1970's. I have been to Harvard and Sudbury performances too. I am not a musician myself, just a listener." [Listeners help performers keep going - never think of yourself as just a listener!]

Josh describes himself as a singer/musician - but gives no details. Bruce calls himself an audience member, Charlotte is a singer, and Pace is another valued member of the audience. Hope to hear more from all of you - Tell Us, Tell Us All About It! Hearty Greeting Offer We!

ELECTION/FANTASY MEETING. On , June 10 at 2:00 PM we'll meet at the Arlington home of Membership Chair Janice Dallas to act out our dreams by performing something out-of-character or infrequently done, and to usher in a new NEGASS board.

Up for replacement or re-election this year: President Don Smith, Treasurer Philip Burstein and two of our Members at Large (Richard Freedman and Sheldon Hochman, We think, if We have Our years in order…), in addition to our Program Chair Art Dunlap, holder of a post which is renewed yearly.

Program Chair has been a difficult role to fill, ever since long-time chair Patricia Brewer moved on to her new career as full-time nurse. She used to say that the job felt like throwing a party each month with somebody else's resources - you'd think there are enough people out there who think it's fun to throw a party! But NEGASSers have been hesitant to take on the job.

All it takes is a telephone, an e-mail account and a calendar - and a willingness to use all three on a regular basis. Help the Board decide when, where and what the meetings will be, use NEGASS funds to hire a hall and (if needed) an accompanist and (with the help of our Hospitality Chair) provide refreshments, keep the membership and the public informed through the services of the Bray editor and the Company Promoter - and earn the gratitude of all NEGASS! If you want to sub-contract any of your tasks (for instance, the opening and/or closing of the hired hall, the paying of the accompanist, the printing of programs, etc) - well, there's no reason you can't! (Just please don't expect the most busy Board members to take on your duties.)

If you're interested in any of the posts opening this year, please be in touch with the current Board.

-- mlc 

LOCOS LIVES ON. We hear that the Light Opera Company of Salisbury, founded three years ago by the late Georgia McEver, is making plans to survive despite its sudden bereavement. The board has found a new Artistic Director, and intends to go on with its planned production of MIKADO this year. It will be able to continue its program of producing fine shows and donating all proceeds to worthy causes.

  – mlc

AND FOR YAM, I SHOULD GET - The admirable author of the G&S Lexicon writes in response to Ellen Spear's recent comments:

I refer to the yam/toco article on page 5 in the last issue of your esteemed journal. That amazing opus The Gilbert & Sullivan Lexicon (third edition) explains it all in words succinct. See page 118.

[What does the book say? "…Let's start with toco. The OED (140) defines this as slang for chastisement or corporal punishment. There is good evidence that it was a common expression in Victorian England (66, 159). In some editions, incidentally, the word is spelled 'toko.' Partridge (144) has an entry: "Toco for yam. To be punished." It goes on to say that the expression, which dates back as far as 1860, is analogous to a stone for a loaf of bread. More explicitly you can take it to mean "For doing something pleasant I should be punished." Now, isn't this a book worth owning?! - mlc]

And I suggest that the Grim's Dyke concierge was engaging in an unsubstantiated flight of fancy.

- HARRY BENFORD 

GRIM'S DYKE INFORMATION Gilbert's country home is on the Web! - visit the site and you'll see this text, for starters: The former country residence of W. S. Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan fame, is now a 4 Star Hotel. Set in 40 acres of beautiful gardens and woodlands only 10 miles from London's West End.

This carefully restored country house is renowned for its special musical events, banqueting, conference and wedding facilities.

NEGASSers have visited Grim's Dyke in the past, and proclaim it well worth a visit. Its address? Old Redding, HARROW, Middlesex, HA3 6SH - Tel: 020 8385 3100, Fax: 020 8954 4560, or e-mail: enquiries@grimsdyke.com

 

 

F. W. WILSON ON THE HARVARD THEATER COLLECTION AND ITS G&S EXHIBITION

Dear Friends at NEGASS,

Since recent correspondents to The Trumpet Bray have been kind enough to refer to the Harvard Theatre Collection and our current Gilbert and Sullivan exhibition, as well as to my own work, I thought it would be helpful if I were to write to offer my perspectives.

The current Gilbert and Sullivan exhibition was scheduled to span the centenary dates of Arthur Sullivan's death in November 1900 and D'Oyly Carte's death in April 1901. I'm not aware of any other significant exhibitions that have been planned to observe either of these milestones. The exhibition includes more than two hundred items, only about one-third of which come from the Theatre Collection. Actually, there are thousands of Gilbert and Sullivan items in the Theatre Collection, including many photographs, programs, posters, libretti, and recordings, and some good letters and rather scarce books. But there is no independent Gilbert and Sullivan Collection: almost everything is kept in our general files of such things, which comprise several million programs and playbills, more than a million photographs, and so on. In order to present a large display that represents many of the most interesting types of documentary and collectible Gilbert and Sullivan material, I approached several individual collectors (including Jesse Shereff, David Stone, Don Smith, and John Wolfson), who have kindly consented to lend material that complements what we have; and in most cases, among the several collections, it has been possible to find copies in fine condition. But it is my hope that the Harvard Theatre Collection will be able to build a Gilbert and Sullivan collection that will eventually be as strong as our unparalleled and historic collection is in so many other areas.

Harvard Magazine published an attractive six-page illustrated article about the exhibition, and I have a number of copies that I would be happy to have sent to readers who would like to have one. We have also published several note cards and postcards that illustrate items that appear in the exhibition.

I was grateful to read Peter Zavon's account of his very useful work with our collection of Gilbert and Sullivan clippings. I have been at Harvard now for five years, and I had not known the story of the microfilming of that collection, although I have owned a set of those microfilms for many years. The Harvard Theatre Collection, which is located in the Nathan Marsh Pusey Library in Harvard Yard, is and has been freely available to any researcher, regardless of university affiliation. The clippings are available for study in our reading room, and the microfilms are still available as well.

Our theatrical clipping file really is a wonderful resource. There are about a hundred file drawers full of clippings about a vast number of productions, personalities, and subjects, both British and American, dating from the late nineteenth century to the present. We no longer employ people to clip reviews and articles from newspapers - hardly anyone does, as far as I know - but we have added new and old clippings to the collection since the Gilbert and Sullivan microfilms were made, so now those microfilms represent perhaps only about one-half of what our files hold.

Mr. Zavon also referred to our collection of theatrical programs. The early Gilbert and Sullivan programs are filed, along with the other programs in the Theatre Collection, by city, theater, and year. There are not special files of programs of the individual Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Later programs tend to be filed under the name of the producing organization. Our collection of programs may possibly be the largest in the world, although, as Mr. Zavon points out, it is not all-inclusive. For material of this type we depend on contributions from performers, theaters, performing organizations, and audience members, and these tend to arrive sporadically.

Don Smith's notice of my web site was much too generous, but it is true that I have been trying to build it into a useful source for research and reference. As a start, I've included a lot of my earlier writing, much of which originally appeared in ephemeral publications like theater programs and limited-circulation periodicals. I've also begun adding facsimiles of Sullivan's shorter musical works - his songs, part-songs, hymns, etc. - which are often asked for and are often difficult to find, in the hope of encouraging the performance of these neglected portions of Sullivan's work. Eventually I hope to be able to include a full bibliography of early editions of Gilbert's and Sullivan's works, together with pictures of the title pages and significant bibliographic points, as an aid to collectors, scholars, and dealers. I expect also to add photographs of pictorial material from my own collection.

Those who have been aware of some of my activities in this field over the years wouldn't afford me much credibility in terms of completing publishing projects: I've variously let it be known that I was working on a new uniform edition of Gilbert's works; new editions of a couple of Sullivan's operas; a textual and production history of H.M.S. Pinafore; an edition of the letters of Gilbert, Sullivan, and Carte; a study of publishing plays in Victorian England; and, in collaboration with a number of other contributors, a reference book on Gilbert and Sullivan collections and collecting - none of which have appeared yet! My curatorial responsibilities have often taken over my waking hours, and other performance and publication projects have likewise taken precedence. So I'm going to try not to make predictions about when these or other projects will be ready, although I can predict that they will be made available via the Internet, so at least you'll be able to keep track at arcadia.org.

Yours sincerely,
FREDRIC WOODBRIDGE WILSON
Curator, The Harvard Theatre Collection  

 

I read Peter Zavon's article on the Harvard College Theatre Collection with great interest. Because I have in my files a fair amount of "archival material" relating to my performing years with Dorothy Raedler's American Savoyards, I was motivated to inquire as to where and to whom to send any possible donations. In case there are other readers of The Bray who may have material they would wish to donate, they might like to know what I learned: The name and address of the Curator of this collection are as follows:

Fredric Wilson, Curator
Harvard Theatre Collection
Nathan Marsh Pusey Library
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138

Cheers - ELIZABETH JOHNSON 

COLLEGE LIGHT OPERA COMPANY ANNOUNCES PIT ORCHESTRA OPENINGS FOR STUDENTS For 32 years, the College Light Opera Company (CLOC) has been bringing high quality operetta (including 2 G&S operettas!) and musical theater to Cape Cod audiences. The College Light Opera Company was founded in 1969 and is the largest resident theatre company in the United States. Located in Falmouth on Cape Cod, MA, the company performs nine operettas and musicals each season with full orchestral accompaniment. CLOC is one of the only summer music theatres that performs with full pit orchestra. This season's repertoire includes: MIKADO, South Pacific, 42nd Street, Titanic, IOLANTHE, Kismet, Student Prince, Louisiana Purchase, and The Scarlet Pimpernel.

…there are still remaining openings in the orchestra for college or graduate students playing violin, viola, cello, bass, and bassoon. The positions pay room and board and a monetary stipend. The orchestra normally rehearses mornings and performs in the evenings. Afternoons are generally free for practicing, spending time around the Cape, or at the beach (2 minutes from our living quarters!). This is a GREAT opportunity for anyone who is interested in pit/opera/studio work or for those who want to expand their repertoire a great deal in the course of one summer.

If you are interested, please send your web browser to http://www.collegelightopera.com, or contact the producer, Bob Haslun, at bob.haslun@oberlin.edu or 440-774-8485 (before 10PM please).

 

Reviews

GONDOLIERS AT SUDBURY As a longtime fan of the Sudbury Savoyards and Kathy Lague's skilled G&S staging, I do not deny that I may have had my biases concerning this show. Nevertheless, I thought The Trumpet Bray might enjoy the novelty of having a conflicting review from a 17-year-old girl, so here you are.

I've had the good fortune of seeing many of the lead performers in other shows, G&S and beyond. Huzzah to Dennis O'Brien, who took on the role of the Duke of Plaza-Toro with all the necessary (and funny) ducal pomp that it required. I was impressed by Amy Allen, whose Gianetta combined a "bellissimi" voice with a convincing comic touch. Ben Stevens as His Grace's Own Particular Drum, Luiz, was probably one of the most subtly delightful performances of the evening--his uniquely lovely voice is a delight both solo and in harmony, and his stage presence is at once self-assured and sardonic. Ephraim Herrera and Todd Allen Long made a terrific team as comedians and singers; the "One Individual" duet during the finale of Act I was an indisputable high point of the evening.

Stephen Malionek is a very skilled conductor, although there were some points in the show where the orchestra fell slightly (but noticeably) off the beat. I have seen better performances from the Sudbury orchestra, but they were far from disappointing and for the most part delivered everything that a G&S orchestra should.

While Deirdre Hatch was a confident and comic delight in her stage performance as Tessa, her wayward voice was not always complimentary to pieces such as "Regular Royal Queen" and "Now Marco Dear." On the other hand, Colleen O'Shaughnessy showcased an exquisitely trained sound, but overlooked some of the comic possibilities that the role of Casilda had. Ted Koban's Grim Reaper-esque Don Alhambra could be a bit tiresome at times, but I can forgive him anything after his priceless delivery of "I'm afraid I'm not equal to the intellectual pressure of the conversation." And yes, he sang well, too.

All in all, kudos to Kathy Lague and the Sudbury Savoyards for a stellar performance of GONDOLIERS. In closing, I wish to point out the breathtaking performance by Laura Schall Gouillart as the Duchess of Plaza-Toro and in doing so protest the omission of her name from last month's review. She is hands-down the most amazing performer in the history of the universe. ("Emily! Don't you dare write that! They're going to think I asked you to!")

-- EMILY F. GOUILLART 

[Emily - we endorse your appraisal of your mother's performance, and her overall talent! - mlc]

GILBERT BEFORE SULLIVAN [Gleaned from SavoyNet by Janice Dallas] I received my copy of W.S. Gilbert's Theatrical Criticism by Jane W. Stedman (London: The Society for Theatre Research, 2000) about ten days ago, and since then I have read it twice--once quickly and greedily, and a second time at greater leisure… If you are interested in Gilbert's life and work, you will find this a richly rewarding volume-- learned, informative, intriguing, and in places extremely funny!

…The book focuses on the early years of Gilbert's career, when he made his living largely as a journalist and theatrical reviewer--mostly for the comic paper Fun, though he also reviewed plays for The Illustrated Times and The Observer. Stedman concentrates on his reviews in Fun--and no wonder, because these were no ordinary reviews, but pithy and extravagant parodies of the plays discussed, the best of them being very funny indeed. Stedman quotes about 25 of these in full, and gives the best lines from many of the others. But it is much more than a compilation of the Fun reviews. Stedman gives the theatrical background, tells us much about Gilbert's early career, and discusses the various aspects of drama that Gilbert was most apt to criticise--unconvincing motivation, bad French accents, unhistorical history, poor plot construction, stage crowds, absurd stage effects (and scene-painters who come on stage to acknowledge applause for the sets!).....

As Edward Lauterbach says, these reviews can be read and enjoyed even if you know nothing about the plays they are parodying. Their most basic comic technique is to speed up the action of the play about ten times, creating an effect rather like fast-forwarding through a video. Everything is stripped to the bare essentials, which makes any inherent absurdity in the play all the more apparent. Characters "give away" the play's weaknesses with engaging frankness, as in the comment in Rouge et Noir, a play set in 1809: "I will write a note to Pauline, and send it in an adhesive envelope--thus anticipating that useful invention by half a century." (quoted p145) But I'm wary about quoting: I don't want to spoil the fun of reading the book!

Unfortunately, the book is marred by typographical errors and by poorly reproduced illustrations…. However, though these problems mar the book they are forgivable.

If this book tells us one thing, it is that we still have an awful lot to learn about Gilbert's achievement. It concentrates on a small slice of his early career: not just his journalism, not even just his journalism for Fun--but his comic reviews for Fun. These pieces are almost completely unknown, but remain fresh, and are definitely worth reading.

Stedman's analysis of the background to the reviews takes us into the world of Gilbert's early, bohemian life, among the journalists and hack dramatists of the 1860s. We are perhaps too familiar with the later, "respectable" Gilbert; here, we almost feel the scapegrace, hand-to-mouth life of the jobbing journalist, going night after night to the wicked theatre and turning that critical eye on the stage. This was a world where the major reviewers were often also the major commercial dramatists; we are reminded once more that it was a remarkably closed world, inhabited by a surprisingly small group. The public quarrels, fallings-out, and sniping that characterised Gilbert's career should perhaps be seen in that context.

… Every book that is written in a serious attempt to look at Gilbert's achievement is almost bound to tell us something new. That is simply an indication of how little material of this kind has already been written. But even so, this is a valuable book. It looks at Gilbert from a different point of view, not simply from the usual perspective of G&S words-man. (Sullivan's name does not even appear in the index!) Gilbert was a man of multi-faceted achievement, and in this book we are shown an unfamiliar facet.

-- ANDREW CROWTHER

W.S. Gilbert's Theatrical Criticism, by Jane W. Stedman, is available from its publisher, The Society for Theatre Research. Contact Eileen Cottis at e.cottis@btinternet.com or write to The Society for Theatre Research, c/o Theatre Museum, 1E Tavistock Street, London WC2E 7PA for more information.

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS RUDDIGORE Janice Dallas gleaned a SavoyNet exchange which ran somewhat thus:

"In fact, the Oxford University Press critical edition edited by David Russell Hulme has only been published within the past year… It must also be pointed out that, as of now, OUP will only sell this edition to customers in Europe!!" (This was posted by a NEGASSer who wishes to remain nameless.)

To which NEGASSer Bruce Miller replied: The full score and vocal score are now available in the United States. I had a chat this afternoon with our regular sheet music dealer, who did some checking. OUP (New York) has copies of both the full score and vocal score, in stock, that they are very willing to supply to dealers in the U.S.A.

Some music stores may not be sufficiently classical-oriented to be interested in supplying these items. Here is one that is willing to accept credit card orders, and undoubtedly there are many others:

Dale Music Co., Inc.
8240 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

1-800-779-6874 (Ask for Gary Roper) (Local telephone #: 589-1459)

-- BRUCE I. MILLER

Visit http://leedscarroll.com/GSEnsembles.html for a list of G&S ensembles suitable for excerpt programs - mlc

ABOUT CONTRIBUTING TO THE TRUMPET BRAY:

All contributions are welcome, of course - but, strictly speaking, only activities and articles relating to G&S ought to be published. (…although an occasional Yes We Know It's Not slips by when the subject relates to a promising activity presented by long-standing and active member of NEGASS.)

  1. E-mail is the best way to send things! - marion@leedscarroll.com or negass@iname.com will get to Us equally well.
  2. The US Postal Service (aka "snail mail") is fine, too - send letters, preferably typed, or hand-written very clearly so that We can read and correctly reproduce names, dates, etc. - to NEGASS, PO Box 367, Arlington, MA 02476-0004.
  3. The Telephone is a very last choice. We do have an answering machine, but spellings of names and specifics of dates are awfully hard to be sure of when delivered by Word of Mouth (Oricular or otherwise), and We rarely have time to phone people back to check details. Please use the phone only if you have no other choice!
 -- mlc   

 

Note: Very old issues of The Trumpet Bray are still available in The G & S Archives. We hope to create a more nearly complete archive of the Bray in the future.

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