On Easter Sunday (17 April), the new Scottish Opera production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, described by audiences as ‘wonderful and heartwarming’, is scheduled to be broadcast on BBC Four at 8pm.
This co-production with D’Oyly Carte Opera and State Opera South Australia is directed by Stuart Maunder, artistic director at State Opera South Australia.
G&S aficionado Derek Clark, Head of Music at Scottish Opera, conducts an ensemble cast that includes ENO Harewood Artist William Morgan, former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Mark Nathan, Ellie Laugharne, Ben McAteer, Sioned Gwen Davies, Arthur Bruce and G&S favourites Yvonne Howard and Richard Suart. Also in the cast is 2021/22 Emerging Artist Catriona Hewitson.
The film, directed by Jonathan Haswell, was made at a performance at Festival Theatre Edinburgh on October 28, during the show’s Scottish tour last year. After the broadcast, those in the UK will be able to watch the film, packed with favourites including the A Regular Royal Queen quartet, Take a pair of sparkling eyes and Dance a Cachucha, on BBC iPlayer for five years.
This broadcast is part of the BBC’s Sunday Night Performance strand – showcasing some of the best of the UK’s dance, theatre, music and spoken word in specially made films for television every week of the year.
The Gondoliers satirises the ruling classes and their position within society, 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. In a show packed full of fun, the gondoliers set off to rule with an idealistic – if somewhat chaotic – plan.
Set and costume designer Dick Bird embraces the absurdity of Gilbert’s libretto by bringing the story to life with fabulously inventive props – which are never quite what they seem – and exquisitely detailed costumes to transport audiences to Venice’s Grand Canal.
Director Stuart Maunder said: ‘The Gondoliers is an undoubted masterpiece of the baker’s dozen that are The Savoy Operas. It’s a brilliant romp, with glorious music, a sumptuous design and a cast to die for.
‘It’s madcap, gossamer thin and with real heart and the perfect chance for a whole new audience to experience one of the greatest pieces of music theatre in the English language. 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.
‘Directing this glorious piece, with this stellar cast and creative team has been, for me, the best way to beat those Covid blues. The first time back in a theatre, the first time many had been onstage for the best part of two years made for a joyous celebration from day one of rehearsal. That joy, delight and play is captured beautifully in this performance. So proud.’
Scottish Opera General Director, Alex Reedijk said: ‘I am very pleased that this marvellous production, so full of joy and fun, is going to be available on the BBC for our many audiences across the United Kingdom who were unable to attend our live performances in Scotland and London. Beautifully sung and staged with great affection and respect for Gilbert & Sullivan’s original delightful intent yet completely delicious for our modern audiences. Enjoy!’
The Gondoliers is supported by Scottish Opera’s ‘Play a Supporting Role’ Appeal, Garfield Weston Foundation (Weston Culture Fund) and The Michael Bishop Foundation.