Review by Carolyn Watts
Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Sydney.
When Gilbert and Sullivan penned The Gondoliers (first performed in 1889) they certainly didn’t envisage the Aussie icon ‘Skippy the bush kangaroo’ playing a role; while Skip didn’t get an actual role, he does get a mention in the performances gracing Sydney stages until October 3.
The G&S Society’s performance is enthusiastic, full voiced, and played with theatrical aplomb. With a mix of lighter and fully operatic voices, this is a performance to remember.
Set in Venice (complete with a backdrop of gondolas on canals) this story of love, confused identities and even unintentional bigamy, amplifies the authors’ original digs at nobility and in parts seems almost to have echoes of current Australian debates on republicanism.
The romp begins with a chorus of 24 hopeful brides-to-be singing their wish to be chosen by one of the city’s two most eligible bachelors who are gondoliers and brothers. Singing the lilting Gilbert and Sullivan harmonies we all love, 22 gondoliers soon join the 24 hopefuls and the stage is strewn with roses, true love is in the air; then the real story begins.
The Duke of Plaza-Toro (Dean Sinclair) and his Duchess (Catherine Bulfin) bring their daughter, Casilda (Stephanie Jennifer Poropat) to claim the crown of Barataria, Casilda having been married as a babe in arms to the now deceased King of Barataria. Not knowing she’s a married woman, Casilda is deeply in love with Luiz (Michael Bond), the Duke’s drummer—confusion? Yes, and hilarity as the plot lines are established and unravel with true Gilbert and Sullivan finesse.
The theatrical performances and vocal achievements of The Gondoliers will delight Gilbert and Sullivan lovers and make G & S lovers of those who come along just to enjoy some local musical theatre.
The Gondoliers is playing at the Smith Auditorium Lyric Theatre at Shore School in North Sydney.
Photo credits: Ray Wing Lun