Summertime means a boon for Gilbert and Sullivan fans
Some of us would be happy to hear Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at any time of year. Some of us would even be happy to hear them performed by traditional, big-league opera companies.
If the Lyric Opera of Chicago has never turned up its nose at G&S -- the company had another hit this season with a production of "The Mikado" starring such great vocal artists as Stephanie Blythe and James Morris -- there's no excuse for others to be so limiting.
Most of the time, though, it seems we get bursts of G&S mainly in the summertime, when such supposedly lighter fare is more appropriate or marketable, and mostly from ensembles devoted solely to this repertoire.
That's how it is in Baltimore, where the Young Victorian Theatre Company has been fighting the good fight for 40 summers. For its 2011 production, YVT has chosen ...
one of the most beautiful items in the G&S canon, "The Yeomen of the Guard." Performances are July 9-17 at the Bryn Mawr School.
Area G&S fans should also note the second International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival taking place June 24-July 3 in Gettysburg, which puts it within easy distance for most of us. Billed as "the largest and most comprehensive event" of its kind in North America, this enterprise is affiliated with the three-week Gilbert & Sullivan Festival that has its 18th season this summer in Buxton, England.
The remarkable lineup at the Gettysburg fest lists no less than nine staged productions, including "Yeomen," "Pirates of Penzance," "Patience," "The Sorcerer" and "Ruddigore," performed by ensembles from several states and from England. Concerts and a youth production of "Mikado" are also on the schedule at the Majestic Theater in Gettysburg. Various fringe festival events are also planned.
To get you in the mood for a G&S summer, here's one of my favorite examples of the magic this composer and and this librettist could generate -- the duet "I Have a Song to Sing, O" from "Yeoman." Gilbert made it tricky for Sullivan by writing verses that get longer with each stanza. The solution Sullivan devised is wonderful in its simplicity and eloquence: