The Gilbert & Sullivan Thread

Hild und hjalmi

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#1
I've been listening to some 1920s-1950s D'Oyly Carte recordings I downloaded online (I've got nine including three of Princess Ida) for a while. My favourite shows are The Mikado and The Sorcerer ---- Mikado for the hilarious dialogue, wacky-but-logical storyline* and catchy music, and Sorcerer pretty much just for the slow, dark creepiness of the incantation scene. I like Elsie Griffin's voice as Josephine on the 1930 HMS Pinafore recording I've got with Charles Goulding as Ralph and Henry Lytton as Sir Joseph Porter.

Speaking of creepiness and Gilbert and Sullivan, in her memoirs Jessie Bond wrote about a weird experience she had when she was playing Mad Margaret in Ruddigore. She thought that instead of Rutland Barrington, the actor playing Sir Despard Murgatroyd was a member of a touring company playing that part on the same night. He also apparently felt that she was acting with him in his production.

Does anyone else like/love G&S?

*best thing about the operas IMO*
 
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Ermintruder

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#2
Heavens to Murgatroyd...G&S on FTMB.....and thespian bilocation, besides. Interesting stuff, as ever.

http://www.gilbertandsullivanarchive.org

A very curious thing happened to me while playing Mad Margaret, which I think may interest those who have leanings toward the occult. One night, when “Ruddigore” had already been running some months, I had the most extraordinary feeling that the man playing with me was not Barrington, but another actor who was taking the part of Sir Rupert Murgatroyd in a provincial company that was playing in Newcastle that same night. The illusion was to me so impressive that I spoke of it to others, and the strangest thing of all was that the actor in Newcastle wrote to me that he had had exactly the same experience, a vivid impression that I was playing the part of Mad Margaret with him, instead of the actress who actually did so.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#3
I grew up nurtured on old records of G. & S, among other, mainly foreign, things. I learned quite a lot of the songs by heart - so far as I could, given the surface-noise and clipped diction of the singers. I don't think we could play LPs until I was about twelve. The odd thing is that I don't think I grasped that it was meant to be funny.

George Baker as the Lord Chancellor recorded the version I remember on 31st October, 1929:

"Go away, madam;
I should say, madam,
You display, madam,
Shocking taste.
It is rude, madam,
To intrude, madam,
With your brood, madam,
Brazen-faced!
You come here, madam,
Interfere, madam,
With a peer, madam.
(I am one.)
You’re aware, madam,
What you dare, madam,
So take care, madam,
And begone!"

I envisaged myself singing this to any annoying woman* who crossed my path. Mainly I didn't, not being a peer.

*Gilbert's misogyny had found a young recruit, evidently! :evil:
 
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Hild und hjalmi

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#4
Heavens to Murgatroyd...G&S on FTMB.....and thespian bilocation, besides. Interesting stuff, as ever.

http://www.gilbertandsullivanarchive.org

A very curious thing happened to me while playing Mad Margaret, which I think may interest those who have leanings toward the occult. One night, when “Ruddigore” had already been running some months, I had the most extraordinary feeling that the man playing with me was not Barrington, but another actor who was taking the part of Sir Rupert Murgatroyd in a provincial company that was playing in Newcastle that same night. The illusion was to me so impressive that I spoke of it to others, and the strangest thing of all was that the actor in Newcastle wrote to me that he had had exactly the same experience, a vivid impression that I was playing the part of Mad Margaret with him, instead of the actress who actually did so.

Yep. Actually, that just reminded me that my maths teacher in Year 8 used to use outrageous names in worksheets, and one of them was "Murgatroyd." I think that Gilbert used the name for pretty much the same reason, because it's both slightly funny and scary-sounding said in the right tone of voice.



I grew up nurtured on old records of G. & S, among other, mainly foreign, things. I learned quite a lot of the songs by heart - so far as I could, given the surface-noise and clipped diction of the singers. I don't think we could play LPs until I was about twelve. The odd thing is that I don't think I grasped that it was meant to be funny.

George Baker as the Lord Chancellor recorded the version I remember on 31st October, 1929:

"Go away, madam;
I should say, madam,
You display, madam,
Shocking taste.
It is rude, madam,
To intrude, madam,
With your brood, madam,
Brazen-faced!
You come here, madam,
Interfere, madam,
With a peer, madam.
(I am one.)
You’re aware, madam,
What you dare, madam,
So take care, madam,
And begone!"

I envisaged myself singing this to any annoying woman* who crossed my path. Mainly I didn't, not being a peer.

*Gilbert's misogyny had found a young recruit, evidently! :evil:
:D I'm sure I can sing bits of The Mikado by heart ---- and Princess Ida, especially Lady Psyche's song about the lady and the ape.

A lady fair of lineage high,
Was lov'd by an ape in the days gone by.
The maid was radiant as the sun,
The ape was a most unsightly one,
The ape was a most unsightly one.

But it would not do,
The scheme fell through
For the maid, when his love took formal shape
Expressed such terror at his monstrous error,
That he stammered an apology and made his 'scape,
The picture of a disconcerted ape.

With a view to rise in the social scale,
He shaved his bristles and he docked his tail,
He grew mustachios and he took his tub,
And he paid a guinea to a toilet club,
He paid a guinea to a toilet club.

But it would not do,
The scheme fell through,

For the maid was beauty's fairest queen,
With golden tresses like a real princess's,
While the ape, despite his razor keen,
Was the apiest ape that ever was seen.

He bought white ties and he bought dress suits,
He crammed his feet into bright tight boots,
And to start in life on a brand new plan,
He christened himself Darwinian Man,
He christened himself Darwinian Man!

But it would not do,
The scheme fell through,

For the maiden fair whom the monkey crav'd
Was a radiant being with a brain far-seeing,
While Darwinian Man, though well-behav'd,
At best is only a monkey shav'd! :evil:
 
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rynner2

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#5
It's been a long time since I listened to much music of any kind, but I remember G&S fondly from my younger days. The music was catchy and memorable, the words and rhymes were equally memorable, with convoluted and sometimes ridiculous rhymes.

G&S is such a British thing that I'm still faintly surprised at how popular it is in America. The scientist and SF author Isaac Asimov was a great fan.
 

Heckler

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#6
Huge fan of G&S here as is Mrs. Heckler who is also from the states. I'd heard them as a child and almost forgot them then we started a ritual of buying a CD each time we were planning on a long car journey, something amusing usually. So we've listened to (among others) Noel Coward, Flanders and Swann, George Formby and then I bought a selection CD of G&S.

Normally when we travel with our two Cockatiels, Charlie and Louis, they are fine for the first hour then they get grumpy and antsy and start playing up, when we play G&S in the car they quieten straight down and have begun to join in (in a Cockatiel way of course, when one of them recites 'My Name is John Wellington Welles' by heart I'll be putting him on Britain's got Talent).
 

Hild und hjalmi

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#7
It's been a long time since I listened to much music of any kind, but I remember G&S fondly from my younger days. The music was catchy and memorable, the words and rhymes were equally memorable, with convoluted and sometimes ridiculous rhymes.

G&S is such a British thing that I'm still faintly surprised at how popular it is in America. The scientist and SF author Isaac Asimov was a great fan.
It's also very popular here in Australia. I've got friends at uni who love Pirates of Penzance (IME most popular G&S opera) in the version with Simon Gallaher and Jon English, who also did a Mikado and Pinafore.

Tolkien also loved G&S, and at least one of his poems was influenced by Gilbert's Bab Ballads.

Huge fan of G&S here as is Mrs. Heckler who is also from the states. I'd heard them as a child and almost forgot them then we started a ritual of buying a CD each time we were planning on a long car journey, something amusing usually. So we've listened to (among others) Noel Coward, Flanders and Swann, George Formby and then I bought a selection CD of G&S.

Normally when we travel with our two Cockatiels, Charlie and Louis, they are fine for the first hour then they get grumpy and antsy and start playing up, when we play G&S in the car they quieten straight down and have begun to join in (in a Cockatiel way of course, when one of them recites 'My Name is John Wellington Welles' by heart I'll be putting him on Britain's got Talent).
I love "My Name Is John Wellington Wells" too.
 
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Recycled1

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#8
I was "Angelina" in our school production of "Trial by Jury".
I still snigger at the line "She may very well pass for forty three, in the dusk with the light behind her!"

There are some VERY funny lines in G and S. Pity they 'fell out' with each other.
 

Hild und hjalmi

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#9
I agree with you. They actually stopped working together for a while after The Gondoliers.


From here: http://www.theatermania.com/new-yor...bert-and-sullivan-and-frankenstein_68572.html

I've got a secret list of musicals that I wish I could see, but I know I never will, for the very good reason that they don't exist. Their creators thought about writing them but for one reason or another never did: George and Ira Gershwin's Zuleika Dobson; Kern and Hammerstein's Messer Marco Polo; Bock and Harnick's Lord Nelson musical. But far and away my favorite — are you sitting down? — is Gilbert and Sullivan's Frankenstein.

Yes, the two great masters of comic opera did discuss the notion, one of several that Gilbert broached to Sullivan as a possible follow-up to the runaway success of The Mikado. His thought was that George Grossmith, the spidery patter-singing comic who created the role of Ko-Ko, would next play the mad doctor who finds himself under the menacing thumb of the monstrous creature he had created, to be played by Rutland Barrington, the tall, husky baritone then playing Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko's haughty abettor.

It never happened. Sullivan apparently found its musical prospects unpromising. Instead, the team wrote Ruddigore, a spoof melodrama in which ghostly portraits come to life. That work's comparative failure planted the seeds of distrust between writer and composer, which would flower, in 1890, into their famous quarrel. So we will never hear the duets Gilbert might have conceived for monster and scientist, or the wild orchestral filigrees with which Sullivan might have decorated their lab.

I was thinking about the paradox of this perfect writing team's astonishing personal incompatibility, because a date caught my eye: 124 years ago this month, W. S. Gilbert wrote to Arthur Sullivan to announce that their collaboration had officially ended. The date on which that letter was sent, as it happens, is the one on which, 55 years later, I was born. That may explain why I've always felt such a terrible sense of loss over the breakup of their partnership. I can't help but wish that Gilbert had hesitated a few days before sending the fatal letter. Their quarrel might have been mended, leaving both their later lives and mine happier and more fulfilled. (It probably didn't help matters that Sullivan was approaching 50. Gilbert's epistolary rampage began not long before the composer's 48th birthday, May 13, 1890.)

Gilbert's statement ultimately proved untrue. The two men's collaboration did not end. The breach between them was repaired sufficiently for them to add two more comic operas (though not a Frankenstein) to the twelve that had already made their conjoined names a household word. But neither their working relations nor their results seemed as assured afterward. Gilbert's letter — one of a barrage of angry letters that he sent during those stressful months in 1890 to Sullivan and to their producing partner, Richard D'Oyly Carte — had snapped the golden thread that had bound these two highly contrasting artists together for nearly two decades.
 
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JamesWhitehead

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#10
They actually stopped working together for a while after The Gondoliers.
Yes, Sullivan seemed to want to be taken seriously. I must listen to Ivanhoe one day.

I remember enjoying The Golden Legend. back in the 1980s. It's a very gothic oratorio, after Longfellow's drama. It opens with a lively chorus of devils* attacking the spire of Strasburg Cathedral.

*There are more devils and demons than one might expect in oratorios. In fact Percy Scholes refers to one called Satan! I don't think it really caught on. :evil:
 
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Hild und hjalmi

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#11
Yes, Sullivan seemed to want to be taken seriously. I must listen to Ivenhoe one day.

I remember enjoying The Golden Legend. back in the 1980s. It's a very gothic oratorio, after Longfellow's drama. It opens with a lively chorus of devils* attacking the spire of Strasburg Cathedral.

*There are more devils and demons than one might expect in oratorios. In fact Percy Scholes refers to one called Satan! I don't think it really caught on. :evil:
That and also it seems that other people expected him to write serious music.(I might be wrong here, though).


*Devils?
I didn't know that. :evil:*
 
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Yithian

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#12
I'm a casual listener but only know the most famous works well. That said, we - well, my parents - have a pair of lotus flower vases (decidedly phallic) previously owned by W.S. Gilbert - they were inheritted through a convoluted family connection. One has suffered a little damage and been inexpertly repaired, but they're really quite nice and, of course, you're reminded of the Mikado/oriental connection.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#16
She was amazing. Youtube, I'm delighted to find, has some things I have never heard or seen before.

Her Ring Cycle analysis is famous for those imperious moments when she declares, "I am NOT making this up!"

She wasn't!

Her humour was far sharper and more learned than the overrated Victor Borge, IMO. :)

I doubt anyone could make a living at it today, alas. :(
 

Ermintruder

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#19
Her humour was far sharper and more learned than the overrated Victor Borge, IMO
Until having heard this G&S regenerative gem, I would've considered this claim for Anna Russell's crowning to be spurious, but, No. I'm now hugely impressed (and I speak as a big Borge fan). She sounds almost like an elder sister of Joyce Grenfell...breathtakingly-skilled.

@Hild und hjalmi , as a musical theatre fan, I take it you're aware of the work of your contemporary countryman, Daniel Koek? He's highly-skilled performer of great promise, and would be very good in any G&S production
 
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Hild und hjalmi

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#20
Until having heard this G&S regenerative gem, I would've considered this claim for Anna Russell's crowning to be spurious, but, No. I'm now hugely impressed (and I speak as a big Borge fan). She sounds almost like an elder sister of Joyce Grenfell...breathtakingly-skilled.

@Hild und hjalmi , as a musical theatre fan, I take it you're aware of the work of your contemporary countryman, Daniel Koek? He's highly-skilled performer of great promise, and would be very good in any G&S production
No I haven't heard of him.


Speaking of musical theatre, weirdly the only play I've seen that wasn't for a school assignment was my high school's production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast with all the male roles being played by guys from a boys' school we had links to. Everyone was very skilled especially the leads and my friend's elder sister played a supporting role.

That makes me think: has there ever been a 'serious' original musical written in the style of G&S? Not related to any of the original operas or spoofing the conventions, but a comic opera which tries to do the same type of satire and social commentary.


EDIT: Just googled him and read he played Valjean in Les Mis.
 
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Ermintruder

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#23
That makes me think: has there ever been a 'serious' original musical written in the style of G&S? Not related to any of the original operas or spoofing the conventions, but a comic opera which tries to do the same type of satire and social commentary.
I think it's fair to say, thanks to @JamesWhitehead giving us that excellent link, Anna Russell had already conceived some very-funny bones for such a possible stage venture (I'd name it...'The Boston Balladeers'...or maybe 'A New World Operetta').

Certainly there's nothing nowadays that even comes close to the G&S language and satire....Mackintosh/Boubil/Schonberg/Lloyd-Webber etc are arguably derivative, but not truly in the classic complex style. Perhaps the god that is Tim Minchin is closest to entering that arena (aha, yet another Australian!!)
 

Hild und hjalmi

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#24
The Chaser is also good Australian comedy.

Going back to what Recycled1 said about G&S' falling out, I think if they were born in the 21st century and actually got along, the partnership might last for longer. Sullivan might still want to be taken seriously, but in a different genre.




I think it's fair to say, thanks to @JamesWhitehead giving us that excellent link, Anna Russell had already conceived some very-funny bones for such a possible stage venture (I'd name it...'The Boston Balladeers'...or maybe 'A New World Operetta').

Certainly there's nothing nowadays that even comes close to the G&S language and satire....Mackintosh/Boubil/Schonberg/Lloyd-Webber etc are arguably derivative, but not truly in the classic complex style. Perhaps the god that is Tim Minchin is closest to entering that arena (aha, yet another Australian!!)
 
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Ermintruder

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#25
The Chaser is also good Australian comedy.
It was unknown to me, until now. Their skill seem good but their style is not unpredictable (I base this just upon a cursory watching).

Thanks for exposing us northern hemisphereans to them. They're a a bit like 'The Day Today'/'Brass Eye'/Fonejacker

Had you felt they (the Oz Chaser 'team') were showing promise within a possible contemporary G&S relaunch setting?

ps something strange has happened to your post above. It says [/USER] which, if a programer's joke, is a bit of a sudden departure for you. Maybe the php BBcode isn't meant to be ironic....
2016-06-18 13.10.06.png
 
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Hild und hjalmi

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#26
It was unknown to me, until now. Their skill seem good but their style is not unpredictable (I base this just upon a cursory watching).

Thanks for exposing us northern hemisphereans to them. They're a a bit like 'The Day Today'/'Brass Eye'/Fonejacker

Had you felt they (the Oz Chaser 'team') were showing promise within a possible contemporary G&S relaunch setting?
No, actually my brother introduced me to them a few years ago and I like them. But now you mention it, maybe it could work.

Trying to tag a username and can't do it which is why there was code in my post.

I know G&S plots aren't actually meant to be plausible and consistent (or realistic, the humour is what matters) but I keep wondering how the fairies in Iolanthe reproduce. Does the Fairy Queen clone herself? And how come Pish-Tush helps heat the cauldron for the execution of Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing and Pooh-Bah in Act 2 of The Mikado?

Yithian, wow. Two vases that belonged to Gilbert!
 
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IamSundog

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#28
When I was a lad about eight years old here in the US I was dragged to a production of Pirates of Penzance. For years all I could recall was the constables singing "Ta-ren tah-ree ta-ren ta-rah", though I knew there had been a lot of comedy going on that was over my head. Then in my 20's I rediscovered G&S though a local comic opera company and became a huge fan.
 

GingerTabby

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#29
My late mother was a great fan of G&S so I grew up listening to it and attending various performances, both amateur and professional. I think many of the melodies are permanently imprinted on my brain. Good to see there are other such enthusiasts on FTMB.
 

Hild und hjalmi

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#30
When I was a lad about eight years old here in the US I was dragged to a production of Pirates of Penzance. For years all I could recall was the constables singing "Ta-ren tah-ree ta-ren ta-rah", though I knew there had been a lot of comedy going on that was over my head. Then in my 20's I rediscovered G&S though a local comic opera company and became a huge fan.
Just reading that gets that song (and 'When I Was A Lad' from Pinafore) stuck in my head and reminds me that my friend and I (both in our 20s) have different opinions of Pirates of Penzance. She loves it; I think it's OK.
 
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