A new Scottish Opera production of Gilberts and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers will open at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal before traveling to cities around the country.
This co-production with D’Oyly Carte Opera and State Opera South Australia will tour Edinburgh, Inverness, and London for a total of 24 performances, and will include the Scottish Opera premiere of the rarely seen Utopia, Limited.
The productions were originally scheduled for May 2020, they now represent a significant step forward for Scottish Opera’s return to theatres. After 18 difficult months, audiences are invited to enjoy live performance once again with Gilbert and Sullivan’s witty music and librettos.
Directed by Stuart Maunder, artistic director at State Opera South Australia, The Gondoliers satirises the ruling classes with the tale of two happy-go-lucky gondoliers who discover that one of them is the heir to the throne of a distant kingdom.
The gondoliers set off to rule with an idealistic and chaotic plan. Set and Costume Designer Dick Bird embraces the absurdity of Gilbert’s libretto by bringing the story to life with inventive props, which are never quite what they seem, and exquisitely detailed costumes to transport audiences to Venice’s Grand Canal.
Gilbert and Sullivan aficionado Derek Clark, head of music at Scottish Opera, conducts The Gondoliers, which is packed with favourites including the ‘A Regular Royal Queen’ quartet, ‘Take a pair of sparkling eyes’ and ‘Dance a Cachucha’. The ensemble cast includes William Morgan, former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Mark Nathan, Ellie Laugharne, Ben McAteer, Sioned Gwen Davies, and Gilbert and Sullivan favourites Yvonne Howard and Richard Suart
Utopia, Limited is similarly true to the Victorian style. Performed by most of the same cast as The Gondoliers, it also mocks the British Empire and politics of its time. Set on the fictional island of Utopia, King Paramount’s dream of civilising his people by adopting English ways backfires spectacularly, making way for a show packed with Gilbert’s rhyming dexterity and some of Sullivan’s most rewarding music. This being only one of a handful of performances since the original staging, it is an almost unique opportunity to see this rarity in the Gilbert and Sullivan canon.
Director Stuart Maunder said: ‘The Gondoliers is a brilliant romp, with glorious music, a sumptuous design and a cast to die for. The G&S phenomenon has been part of the basic language of performing in the English speaking world for more than 150 years. So, this is the perfect chance for a whole new audience to experience one of the greatest pieces of music theatre and to revive a great tradition for a whole new generation.
‘The Gondoliers’ fusion of infectious melody, topsy-turvy wit and heartfelt sentiment is a combination that never ages – indeed, perhaps it’s something we need now more than ever. Opera relies on bringing people together in one place, at one time, to have a shared experience of the great works. Well, we’re back, ready, willing and champing at the bit to deliver this great piece.’
Conductor and Scottish Opera’s head of music, Derek Clark, said: ‘The Gondoliers is like a breath of Italian summer air. Gilbert’s witty book and lyrics show him at the top of his game and Sullivan, inspired by the Venetian setting, produced his sunniest score, with one lilting melody after another – all guaranteed to make you leave the theatre with a smile on your face. It’s pure joy from start to finish, exactly what is needed after a difficult year.’
The performance diary is:
Saturday 16 October, 7.15pm, Theatre Royal Glasgow
Thursday 21 October, 2.30pm and 7.15pm, Theatre Royal Glasgow
Friday 22 October, 3pm, Access Gondoliers, Theatre Royal Glasgow
Saturday 23 October, 2.30pm and 7.15pm, Theatre Royal Glasgow
Thursday 28 October, 7.15pm, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Friday 29 October, 7.15pm, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Saturday 30 October, 7.15pm, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Sunday 31 October, 2.30pm, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Wednesday 3 November, 3pm, Access Gondoliers, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Thursday 4 November, 7.15pm, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Saturday 6 November, 2.30pm and 7.15pm, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Wednesday 10 November, 7.15pm, Eden Court, Inverness
Thursday 11 November, 7.15pm, Eden Court, Inverness
Friday 12 November, 3pm, Access Gondoliers, Eden Court, Inverness
Saturday 13 November, 2.30pm and 7.15pm, Eden Court, Inverness
Wednesday 30 March 2022, 7.30pm, Hackney Empire, London
Thursday 31 March 2022, 2.30pm and 7.30pm, Hackney Empire, London
Saturday 2 April 2022, 2.30pm and 7.30pm, Hackney Empire, London
Wednesday 20 October, 7.15pm, Theatre Royal Glasgow
Friday 5 November, 7.15pm, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Friday 1 April 2022, 7.30pm, Hackney Empire, London
Tickets for The Gondoliers and Utopia, Limited are on sale now. For more information visit www.scottishopera.org.uk