OCTOBER MEETING: IOLANTHE talk plus sing-along: October 15 at 2:00 PM (How to get there)
Join us on October 15 at 2 PM at the Park Avenue Congregational Church in Arlington, as Bruce Miller presents his and Helga Perry’s latest discovery: part of the long-missing music for Mountararat’s second-act song, De Belville was regarded as a Crichton of his age..
The De Belville song was apparently cut from IOLANTHE before opening night. Not merely cut – it appears to have been cut out of scores, or, in some cases, glued shut. Listen to Bruce tell how he and Helga discovered what little of the music they've found, and give his ideas on how and why it was hidden. Their talk on Reflect, my child, their earlier discovery, was excellent – We’re sure this will be fascinating as well!
Then join in a sing-along of choruses from IOLANTHE, accompanied by Victor Troll. Music will include:
Casting for solo bits will be on-the-spot – so if you are longing to sing a solo, show up and raise your hand! (On the other hand, if not enough solo-seekers appear, we may have to settle for skipping the solos, or singing them in unison.)
HOW TO GET THERE: PARK AVENUE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH (PACC), 50 Paul Revere Road, Arlington, MA The church stands at the corner of Park Avenue and Paul Revere Road, on Park Avenue one block south of Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington. To get there you can either drive or take the #77 Arlington Heights bus along Massachusetts Avenue to Park Avenue, at the far west end of town, and then travel one block south. Or you can take Route 2 to the Park Avenue-Arlington exit, and drive north along Park Avenue until Massachusetts Avenue is in sight. Free parking is available on both Park Avenue and Paul Revere Road.
AUGUST PICNIC MEETING/MIKADO SING-THROUGH
Dr. and Mrs. David Sheldon of Hyde Park, MA served as gracious and unassuming hosts for the annual NEGASS picnic. The picnic per se was spread between various porches and yards, but the sing-through found everyone gathered in the parlor, where Queen Victoria reigned from her post above the living room mantle.
Between the picnic and the sing-through, the Sheldons delighted the crowd by sharing unusual recordings from their collection, including Sullivan's message to Alexander Graham Bell on his new-fangled recording invention.
The cast of ladies for MIKADO included Rebecca Consentino as Yum Yum, Juliet Cunningham as Pitti Sing, Nancy Burstein as Peep Bo, and Katherine Bryant as Katisha. Men’s casting was more complex: Dan Kamalic was scheduled to sing Nanki-Poo in Act I, but because he was delayed, Rebecca Burstein sang his part in A wand’ring minstrel and Young man, despair. Dan Gravely took the role for Act II. The roles of Pooh Bah, Pish Tush, Ko Ko, and The Mikado were more settled – they were played, respectively, by Tony Parkes, Art Dunlap, Ray O'Hare, and Rick Copeland.
This meeting featured two door prizes: a poster-sized reproduction of an old Boston G&S program, donated by Bill and Nancy Burdine and won by our own VP Jen Morris – and a “patter spoon” (that is, a spoon with an enamel image of a G&S character, based on the Players' cigarette cards, inset into the handle) which Don Smith obtained from the International G&S Festival and which was won by Dick Freedman. [Don tells Us that he has a second spoon which he intends to donate for use as a door prize at a future meeting.]
We are all very grateful to the Sheldons for their hospitality, and look forward to more picnics! [And We're very grateful to Ron Dallas for the attached photos - sorry We don't have all names and faces matched, but We hope you'll get the idea! - mlc]
The last Bray was not printed at a copy shop. It was received as an e-mail attachment, printed out and photocopied courtesy of Preston Productions, a company based in Marleborough, MA, which creates and produces conferences, trade shows and other fancy corporate extravaganzae, and which seeks to encourage community theater. Our connection? - our new VP, Jen Morris, Director of Sales and Marketing for Preston. Our cost? - the price of the paper! Jen has offered to do this on a regular basis, thus much reducing NEGASS’s expenses. Thank you, Jen!
ELECTRONIC BRAY AND THE WEB: On his renewal form (remember to renew your membership!), Mike Halperson asked why We didn’t save time and money (and trees) by just distributing the Bray via e-mail. We pointed out to him (via e-mail) that, in addition to the problems involved in sending attachments to people with different types of computer systems, not all NEGASSers are electronically connected – some people still need, and some prefer, to read things on paper.
There’s always the option of reading The Bray on the Web - but this exchange made Us realize that not everyone knows about the new NEGASS Web Site. Visit it at http://negass.org, and see what’s there! The Calendar, contact info for Board members, the Bray, MapQuest-linked directions to our next meeting – everything has its own Web page.
E-MAIL LIST: We’ve even started an e-mail list, which We’ve already used twice to send out last-minute messages that arrived too late for inclusion in the last Bray. (An announcement of auditions for MITG&SP’s SORCERER was one of the messages – oh, and they’re still looking for chorus men!) Visit that page and add your e-mail address to the list, and you’ll get messages whenever anything else last-minute comes up.
WEB BRAY: Yes, the Bray is there (at http://negass.org/Bray/Trumpet_Bray.html) and it would be possible for you to stop receiving printed copies, if you’d like, and depend on the Web for your news. That would save a few trees. But please be aware that the Web version of the Bray is posted a few days after the hard copy is mailed out (re-formatting takes time.). And We certainly hope that people will not forego paying dues to NEGASS, and merely visit the NEGASS web site for free! To forestall this, a day may come when membership in NEGASS comes with a password to visit a restricted on-line Calendar, at least – let Us know how you feel about this!
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome We New Members Dr. Maureen A. Van Neil of Waban, Ray O'Hare of Abington, and Martha Birnbaum of Cambridge. We know Martha – she is active in SLOC and sang beautifully in Living Room Opera last summer – but We have yet to hear about the other Neophytes. Tell Us, Tell Us All About It! Hearty Greeting Offer We!
Have you renewed your membership?!
After the listing of Charter NEGASS Members was published last issue, Arthur & Jean Koykka got in touch with Us to say that they believe they are also Charter members. Actually, the records show that they joined during NEGASS’s second year – but that’s pretty close, and We’re glad they’re still members!
I just finished the article from David Stieber in the August Bray regarding Jeffrey Wayne Davies. I must say that I was very fortunate to see Jeffrey perform and direct in Boston in the early 70's. The first performance I saw him in was as Bunthorne in PATIENCE with the Harvard G&S. It was absolutely hilarious. One of the two Hunt brothers (both performed in numerous productions at Harvard and BU) played The Duke of Dunstable and a Darcy Pullman played Lady Jane to Jeff's Bunthorne. He was so witty and nimble on his feet, I said to myself "yes - someday I will play Bunthorne.” (I did with the Winchester Players 10 years ago, along with you!) [We remember that – Chuck Berney was the Stage Director! – mlc]
The second production I saw which Jeff directed and set designed was with the now defunct BU Savoyards. This was IOLANTHE. I'm not sure if I have the spelling correctly, but Norman Nuber?? played the Lord Chancellor. Norman performed in numerous G&S productions along with Jeff in the Boston area in the early 70's as some of our readers may know. But this production was so enchanting. From what I recall the lights slowly rose after the overture to the first act with a light mist and old fieldstone grist mill with a water wheel and the sound of crickets! It was so beautiful and tranquil.
The second act took place on a terrace from the Houses of Parliament over looking the Thames at night with a very very light fog silhouetting buildings from across the river. Norman was wonderful as the Lord Chancellor. But the outstanding numbers were with the fairies and peers. He had them doing choreography that rivaled an old Warner Bros. Busby Berkley movie. Some great memories of Boston's G&S.
And yes, he did own a small restaurant called 9 Knox Street in Boston's Bay Village.
I still have a ton of stories of G&S in Boston and around the area from the 70's. But maybe another time---------- Later
Janice Dallas reports that the cast of SLOC's upcoming production of PIRATES will feature quite a few NEGASSers: Robert Russell as the Sergeant of Police, Patricia McDonald as a Daughter, and Rollin Jeglum, Mike Lague, Tony Parkes, and Jonathan Saul as members of the Pirates & Policemen chorus. Laura Gouillart is a member of the production team – and Brian Harris is the set designer. As We reported last month, We heard the Mabel and Frederic together at Longwood Opera last summer- they’re worth hearing, and seeing!
No news yet about Sudbury’s upcoming GONDOLIERS, ‘tho Dame Rumour whispers that the directors will be Kathy Lague and Steve Malionek again – return of a winning team! Auditions will probably be in November, as We hear their performance dates are early again this year.
New Mikado Scores from Dover - Review by Marc Shepherd
Here’s the third and final installment of an excellent, thoughtful but very long review of the new Dover editions of MIKADO – Full Score and Piano/Vocal editions - by Marc, a G&S scholar who currently serves as Listmaster for SavoyNet.
In any event, there are numerous libretto variants that the editors missed. In the opening number, for instance, the editors don’t seem to have noticed “common-place marionette” or “can’t keep it up for long.” Nor, later on, “If we’re designed to dance and sing,” “I would fondly kiss you thus,” or the alternative version of Ko-Ko’s “My brain it teems.”
The introduction to the VS reports that the piano reduction is “entirely new.” I assumed initially that this was an exaggeration, but the statement is justified. The reduction has indeed been totally rethought, and in some places it barely resembles the familiar one. The addition of orchestral color is most welcome (e.g., the instrumental “commentary” in The criminal cried), as is the deletion of gratuitous piano notes that don’t appear in the full score.
The piano part has also been sensitively re-voiced, giving the accompanist better clues about the orchestral effect that the piano is supposed to imitate. However, in a few places the reduction seems to me more difficult than before (although not impracticably so). The new version of Comes a train of little ladies (not an easy number for the pianist to begin with) looks like it will present a sight-reading challenge.
The editors have announced that they will be editing several more G&S editions for Dover. In the future, I suggest that they poll the early libretti and vocal scores more thoroughly and establish consistent rules for how variant passages will be treated. Some of the errors in MIKADO could have been discovered just by inviting a few knowledgeable people to review it before publication.
Despite its many problems, the Dover edition is, for now, the best MIKADO edition on the market. Without significantly more effort or expense, it could have been a lot better.
Here are citations Marc provided for the volumes he is discussing:
The MIKADO in Full Score
The MIKADO Vocal Score
GILBERT AND SULLIVAN’S LONDON by Andrew Goodman
This is a marvelous book, a charming account of the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan (both individually and as collaborators) with London. The author Andrew Goodman (who really knows his stuff) organized this enormous treasure-trove of information by neighborhood. The book gets off to a strong start by reviewing how London developed—it impressed me how much London is a Victorian city, with many famous neighborhoods which were all but farmland in the early 19th century. This book is meant not only for lovers of G&S but lovers of London and good travel writing as well.
Even the most devoted and up-to-date Savoyard will learn something in this book. What is the relationship between Gilbert and Tiger Woods? On page 166 we discover that Gilbert was the first president and co-founder of the Grim’s Dyke Golf Club. Or what is the tie between Sullivan and John Gielgud? On pages 66 and 145, we learn that Arthur Lewis and Kate Terry (the grandparents of Sir John) turned their home, the Moray Lodge, into the center for the Moray Minstrels. Sullivan’s Cox and Box (with F.C. Burnard) was first performed in their home. The list could go on and on but you get the picture.
Perhaps the best section of the book was the chapter on the legal establishment in London, housed primarily at the Temple. Of course, virtually all of us enthusiasts know of Gilbert’s connection with the law but Goodman’s discussion of the architecture and the traditions of the British legal system are fascinating. Did you know that five members of the Middle Temple, including John Dickinson (of Dickinson College and 1776 musical fame), signed the Declaration of Independence? Goodman is a lawyer by profession and his knowledge shines through this book and especially this chapter.
Finally, the discussion of how each of the great men died and how differently they were buried and memorialized is very moving section of the book. Even the relationship between D’Oyly Carte and his environs is detailed in this book, with a particularly interesting review of Carte’s summer home on the upper Thames.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all of my Savoyard friends. He really provides a wealth of historical detail about so many topics. My copy is the original hardback issued in 1988, with a charming introduction by the famous conductor Sir Charles Mackarras. The paperback version has been reprinted this year (now with an introduction by filmmaker Mike Leigh, the director of Topsy Turvy.) I do not know if the book has been updated but if it has, I will surely buy the revised edition, which is readily available from e-bookstores like Amazon.com for under $20. A bargain at twice the price.
The Pirates of Penzance is performed regularly throughout the Western world and stands as one of the most performed G&S operas from the canon. This may be due to the beautiful blend of Gilbert's sense of the absurd with Sullivan's parody of Italian opera, particularly Verdi's Il Trovatore.
There is a good case that this score is overall their most popular – combining the best of the PINAFORE world with the future of the Savoy operas, the Patience-Iolanthe-Princess Ida world. While pundits may argue which opera is the best, there is no doubt that PIRATES can still draw a full-house 121 years after its premiere. Cats may be "now and forever" – but the most enduring work that Broadway produced is a wonder — balancing grace, charm, vaudeville, and "grand" opera. And its "feline" Pirate March (With cat-like tread) has long since passed into popular musical vocabulary.
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO): PIRATES is NOT, as many have described it, H.M.S. Pinafore on dry land. PINAFORE is a much more biting and revolutionary satire. PIRATES lampoons very few British institutions and is much less topical - actually making it more universally appealing and, by extension, more popular than the perennial PINAFORE. BUT the big difference is in Sullivan's score. As a lampoon at Italian Opera, Sullivan rose to the occasion in true-operatic style. The obvious number, Poor Wand'ring One, which is less Verdian and more Donizettian, is just the surface of this deep pond. [Our inevitable 2 cents: How about the first cadenza, which is a direct steal from Violetta’s “Sempre Libera” in La Traviata, aka The Wandering One… - mlc] Here's a few more tidbits for "pond"ering:
Ruth is a mimic of Azucena in IL Trovatore - from her "narrative" to the Duet between her and Frederick (Manrico). Frederick is the most heroic of all G&S tenors - and is the longest G&S tenor role (he is on the stage longer than any other character in the canon, with the exception of maybe King Paramount in UTOPIA). The 3-movement Verdian Duet in Act 2 for Frederick and Mabel is juicy and incredibly well devised (especially the application of the ballad Ah leave me not to pine in the midst of all that Verdian cluster. Verdi would have picked an andante or allegretto for the slow movement). Then there's the Trio, Away, Away - a true stretta bringing dramatic finality to a very frothy situation.
And then there's the "Triumphal" entry of the Police (When the foeman bares his steel) - patterned after the Triumphal Chorus from Aida. The Pirate March, on the other hand (With catlike tread) is derived from Offenbach (that's Gilbert's doing) - Les Brigands, as Gilbert had already put on a British version of this opera a few years before. The Police Sergeant and his troops are right out of IL Trovatore - the frightened soldiers gathered around the fire in the dead of night bemoaning their lot and fate. AND WE COULD GO ON.
Sullivan had met Verdi - and it is not without the range of credibility that Sullivan's music had an effect on the old maestro - witness page after page of Sullivanesque music we see in Verdi's Falstaff.
All this is transparent to modern audiences - as it should be. All they know is that they are watching the most entertaining of the Savoy operas, which never fails to deliver on its promise - and so different from what came before and what would come next that it stands out as a "perfect little" gem in a magnificent string of immortal pearls.
AUGUST G&S MARATHON
Beginning Friday evening, August 18 and continuing all day Saturday into the wee morning hours of Sunday, August 20, THE GILBERT & SULLIVAN T2K SINGOUT, EH? took place in Scarborough, Ontario, just east of Toronto. It was convened to sing the entire Gilbert & Sullivan lexicon, and is thought to be the third one of its kind in North America. (VLOC in Rockville, MD hosted the other two, in 1992 and 1998.) The registrations totaled 135-- 56 were Canadians, four were from the United Kingdom, and the remainder were US citizens.
We were housed at a Howard Johnson motel, a few miles north of the Scarborough Village Community & Recreation Centre which includes a 250-seat thrust style theatre with very comfortable seating. Hosts Herschel Rosen and Ori Siegel greeted us at 5:00 PM and we began singing at 7:15. Trial, Utopia and Pinafore were sung that evening, and the rest the next day. A Baldwin grand piano was imported, with the music store's name prominently displayed on its spine.
Volunteers had been requested for the lead parts; the leads performed on the stage floor, as did the conductor and pianist. The chorus sat in the audience, some by section, and some were in "patch" formation. A large variety of G&S editions was in evidence; those who had to squint, even in the good lighting, were probably reading Kalmus editions.
About fourteen NEGASS members were in attendance. Our own Marion Leeds Carroll sang Zara, Phyllis and Gianetta, making a ten-minute change between the last two roles with clever garb that might be termed a unit-costume. Some of the leads were in costume, some in street clothes; it mattered not, because everyone was there for the music.
And oh, what music! All the moments of magic were there. Frankly, Welcome to our hearts again, Iolanthe gives us the shivers; as does the end of YEOMEN. Overtures, long introductions, and dance numbers were omitted, and the oft-stated command was "Four before letter 'A'"
Perhaps you wonder how long it would take to sing everything in the thirteen Savoy operas (plus one number from THESPIS). Not counting the occasional breaks for rest and refreshment, we calculate that it took something like 18 hours. Some were so keyed-up, even after MIKADO ended well after midnight, that the party continued at the Golden Griddle Pancake House nearby. Continuing the magic was a buffet breakfast Sunday morning. Now we understand the importance of SavoyNet in getting the news out as to such events. Now if such an event could attract more young people. This is something to think about. [How young? – We saw plenty of folks in their twenties – and teens-and-younger could not have been expected to travel to such an event alone! – mlc]
Various related items were available for sale in the lobby. These included programs autographed by D'Oyly Carte personnel, tee-shirts and sweatshirts embossed for the occasion, CDs, books, and English cigarette cards with G&S characters printed on them. Participants each were given an embossed coffee mug, a refrigerator magnet, and a program (sorry, programme.)
Noteworthy performances were in abundance, and space would not allow mention of them all, but a few must be singled out. Catherine Huntress-Reeve (of Rockville’s VLOC) performed two contralto lead roles impressively [including a hysterically drunk Baroness in DUKE!], but even better, she conducted two other shows, mouthing the chorus words AND indicating cutoffs. We thought “Oh this is too good.” Later, when asked, she said, "Well, I want the best for my singers."
Samuel Silvers did the Lord Chancellor in robes: The Nightmare Song was flawless. Peter Emery performed Frederic and Ralph Rackstraw with a near-operatic voice, but knew how to blend into duets and other ensemble work. Bob Richards, having traveled from Wales for this event, kept everyone in stitches with his Bunthorne and KO-KO, whose "little list" included a newly-composed third verse satirizing G&S aficionados and the vocal scene in general. Cheryl Cerri sang Mabel, interpolating a high E-flat for the Act II finale. This is a voice sopranos would kill for. [May We (as a soprano with a high E-flat of her own) beg to differ? – Cheryl has an excellent voice for – oh – Lloyd Weber, and could be making good money on Broadway – but her G&S style left a lot to be desired, as many of those at Toronto agreed! If We had to choose a voice to kill for, We’d choose Corinne Lynch, whose elegance, style and technique, in addition to her exquisite native instrument and her lovely person, reconciled Us to the fact that she was singing one of the roles We love to perform Ourself – Julia Jellicoe. Or, if she were not available for murder, We’d go after Laura Schatz, who sang Ida and Aline, among other roles – including the one piece from THESPIS presented at the sing-out! - mlc]
For a contribution, a theatre company could take over all the leads in any opera they requested. The Saint Anne's Music and Drama Society of Toronto did just this for a recent production of theirs, DUKE. This produced a solid account of that least-performed work. As Julia, Corinne Lynch sang well and performed her "Mad Scene" to great effect. [Faint praise for such a star! – mlc]
A few chorus members were pressed into service as lesser leads; when they occasionally faltered, a remarkable thing occurred; ten or twenty chorus voices softly picked up the correct notes and sang them until the crisis passed. And the following will ever be so -- some singers cannot be conducted.
The role of Katisha had gone unclaimed, remarkable as it may seem. [We believe it was Karen-Anne Toogood, who had already sung Ruth], who filled in as Katisha, with all affecting particulars. [She was good!!!]
We must commend the chorus work, especially the four-part men's chorus. They produced a confident, ringing tone. Seldom happens in real life, you say? [Our husband intended to stay, loyally, for Our performances and then to explore Toronto – but he so enjoyed the excellent choral work that he stayed for most of the marathon!]
A musical orgy to be sure; we could go on at some length, but behold, we have said enough. But we wonder, in our artless New England fashion, could such an event be organized for the greater Boston area? The Toronto Singout was engineered by only five persons. Of course they had some help, but it is important to realize that no person or group staked them to the money needed.
NEGASS is a non-performing group, but there are an impressive number of Savoyards in our area, and perhaps a way could be found. How about: New England Singout 2002? Is there any interest?
[Visit http://www.btinternet.com/~richards.gands/toronto2000/t2k.htm to see a few pictures of the Singout - mlc.]
7th ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL G&S FESTIVAL
No American companies won this year [correction: Don told Us after the publication of the hard-copy Bray that "The G&S Players" was actually a group connected with the Philadelphia G&S Society] – but NEGASSers will want to know who did win, and Don Smith has told Us all about it.
The Sale G & S Society’s production of IDA contained the festival’s Best Character Actor (David Kay as King Gama), Best Character Actress (Alison Davis as Lady Blanche), won the Derek Collins Trophy For The Most Traditional Production – and the title of 2nd Runner Up (3rd Place)
The South Anglia Savoy Players’ production of IOLANTHE won Best Musical Director (Brian Brown), Best Male Voice (Mick Wilson as Earl Tolloller), Best Chorus/Chorale and the title of 1st Runner Up (2nd Place).
The Derby G & S Players’ production of IOLANTHE gleaned a couple of prizes, including Best Director (Andrew Nicklin) and Best Animated Chorus – and walked away with the title of International Champions 2000 (1st Place) [that must have been great direction! – and a great chorus!]
Interesting note: The title of Best Supporting Actor was won by Brendan O'Brien, who played Mercury in what was apparently a rather good production of the Bruce Montgomery setting of THESPIS, performed by a group with the novel name of G & S Players. [This is the US group! - mlc]
Bronwen Evans, who performed YumYum in the Festival Production MIKADO, won both Best Female Voice and Best Female Performer.
And there was an Adjudicator's Special Award, awarded this year for "even a small role, if done well, can take centre stage" – the winner being Robin Lavies, who played the Boatswain in the Bournemouth G&S Operatic Society PINAFORE
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