The World of Gilbert and Sullivan

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  The World of Gilbert and Sullivan Concert Review Artist: The Gaudeamus Choir Venue: Excel Theatre, Tipperary town Date: Friday 7 th  October 2016 Programme: Musical numbers from, The Gondoliers, H.M.S. Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance and  The Mikado Review Gilbert and Sullivan tunes and lyrics are known and highly sought after all around the globe. They wrote works known as comic operas ; operas that are light-hearted, humorous, some might say satirical and generally have a happy ending. Gilbert and Sullivan were the transitioning figures in the world of theatre as what they wrote acted as a bridge between opera and musical theatre. The melodies and lyrics are playful and memorable but contain great substance and structure. In order to achieve a good performance; a good orchestra, competent singers/soloists and an even more competent chorus are absolutely vital. All the musical numbers seem simple and very easy to learn at the surface, but are hugely complex and technically very challenging. The melodies are fast, melismatic, chromatic, full of words and require an excellent delivery to ensure comprehension from the audience.  The Gaudeamus choir are in existence for just over 5 years and are growing and improving every time I hear them. I thought their programme was cleverly laid out and appealed to all ages of the audience. The opening Dance a cachucha from The Gondaliers  was powerful. Each member of the choir engaged brilliantly, was fully animated and enjoyed singing this massive chorus. From there the tenor soloist for the night, John Murphy, led us into the tenor aria from Act 2. He gave a very pleasant and well-rehearsed performance yet it lacked substance. His voice was in tune and easy to listen to but, like a lot of amateur tenors, was missing colour, resonance and even dynamics.  A Maiden Fair to See brought us aboard the H.M.S. Pinafore and this was much more entertaining and seemed to sit better on John’s  voice. He also had the encouragement from the male chorus behind him which I think boosted his confidence and maybe relaxed his nerves a little. The evening then took a dive backwards with the soprano ’s  rendition of Poor Wandring One from The Pirates of Penzance . I think it might have been the worst performance of this enjoyable aria I have ever heard. I’m fully  aware of the difficult level of this aria and I appreciate that it takes a certain type of soprano to accomplish the melisamas, cadenzas and staccato high register notes towards the end. However, one should not take on such a momentous challenge unless well capable of doing so. She was sharp, flat, shrill and under pressure. To my  dismay, she took to the floor again alongside the tenor for the beautiful duet Stay, Fredrick Stay. However, I was pleasantly surprised as it suited her much better. She was in tune and not half as appalling as in the previous solo! To finish, they brought us to Japan with The Mikado, my favourite G&S work so I welcomed it with joy. Three ladies, all with great charm performed Three Little Maids  and it was very enjoyable, their intonation was excellent. An extremely witty tenor took to the stage with the humorous I’ve got a little list  . He’s not a wonderful singer by any means, however, he sang it in tune and musically correct. His comic timing and expression made up for everything else, he had the whole place in stitches! They finished the concert with the finale of Act one and it was absolutely wonderful. The entire chorus were energetic, the orchestra (as they were all night) were extremely tight and got the G&S feel and rhythms down to a tee, and the soloists were excellent also. Over all it was a great night’s entertainment and I look forward to seeing what they bring to the stage again next year.
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