I was in the unusual circumstance of being a member of the Woodstock Choralaires but not being able to be in the chorus for the Saturday night performance of HMS Pinafore. What a show! I was overwhelmed with delight seeing and hearing the whole production. Gilbert's brilliant lyrics and Sullivan's sumptuous tunes transported me to a tuneful nirvana.
The entire production was put together expertly. An orchestra of 11 fine musicians, professional singers sang the leading parts, the chorus filled the hall with the most wonderful rich choral sound, and all directed by our rigorous and tireless director.
|Director, Doug Shippey after the show|
Everyone was having a great time: the orchestra, lead singers, chorus and audience were happy - enchanted by the rather ridiculous but completely charming story told in lyrics and music that are fresh and captivating still today.
|The Orchestra rehearsing with Josephine (Janelle Murray)|
This is not an opera of angst and conflict but about the foibles and absurdities in ourselves and the leaders of our time. Many years ago when I was young and impressionable I read this graffiti on the restroom wall at the Isabella Hotel in Toronto, " Don't adjust your mind, the fault is with reality." Gilbert and Sullivan were right on the mark for this sentiment. They took the realities of their time and lampooned them. Amazingly, the situations hold up well after a century.
The libretto lends itself to augmentation so that lyrics and dialogue can be added to reflect current times. Josephine, the female lead, weighs the choice between marrying the admiral or the sailor by comparing her shopping options: Holt Renfrew vs. Wal-Mart. The Admiral of the Queen's Navy gives instruction on how to rise in government. In G&S times that depended on class, now it seems, it depends on being part of la famille Trudeau.
|The Sailors of HMS Pinafore|
To make HMS Pinafore joyous and amusing, a thoroughly dazzling experience, took incredible amounts of energy, quickness of mind and plain hard work. Set, costumes, props, directions, management, and none of these have to do with the music and lyrics, which are both challenging. It was all too easy to go gaily tripping over the words in the patter songs.
|Admiral Porter's Sisters, Cousins and Aunts|
The fact that the production looked relaxed with all the cast enjoying the performance indicates the amount of work, attention to detail and dedication that was expended.
So to be thoroughly entertained, charmed and delighted, treat yourself to a Gilbert and Sullivan opera now and again and do come to the Woodstock Choralaires' concerts and productions in the future for an enjoyable and sparkling choral experience.
By The Way: A Bonus - Gilbert and Sullivan tunes stay with you, so you will hum them for days after the performance.