Posts Tagged ‘Austin Gilbert & Sullivan Society’

The Mikado a don’t-miss musical delight

The Mikado will make you happy. You will still be singing the songs the next day. If you’ve never been to a performance of this show, treat yourself and at least one other person to one of the five remaining performances (Thursday, 16 June, 8 pm; Friday, 17 June, 8 pm; Saturday 18 June, 3 pm and 8 pm; and Sunday, 19 June, 3 pm).

The Mikado is theatrical magic in an intimate setting. An 11-member men’s chorus, a 12-member women’s chorus, a 16-piece orchestra, and outstanding singers and actors in the named roles join to form an ensemble that is even greater than the sum of its great parts. Bright costumes, clever sets, and ingenious choreography and stage business contribute mightily to the fun. The fans as wielded by the cast practically deserve their own credits in the program.

We attended a children’s matinee and were present for part of the hour-long program that preceded the performance the musical comedy. Nearly every child remained for the performance itself, and for the entire performance. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve enjoyed this comic light opera (thanks to the Austin Gilbert & Sullivan Society and to student performances at UT), it’s always fresh and funny.

At this performance, there were supertitles projected above the stage. Even though the lyrics are in English and the singers enunciate very clearly, I think that, since the rapid pace of some of the songs can be confusing to first-time audiences, being able to see the words promotes even more out-loud laughter from the crowd than usual.

The Mikado, the annual major production of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin, is playing at the Travis High School Performing Arts Center, where the amenities include comfortable seating with plenty of legroom, strong air-conditioning, and ample parking. Tickets are discounted when purchased in advance on line or by telephone.

The music is very beautiful, and it is played and sung with the excellence that it deserves.

A rare opportunity

Dialogues of the Carmelites has three performances remaining (tomorrow evening at 7:30; Friday, April 24, at 7:30; and Sunday, April 26, at 3). Although this opera premiered in 1957 and is therefore “modern,” it’s not the sort of modern that should keep anyone from attending and enjoying this production. On Saturday, the orchestra was at its finest, having never sounded better, and it was a delight to hear the singing, especially the chorus of nuns. The staging was clear and fast-flowing, and the lighting was excellent.

The stage was raked, and I think that all action was visible from every seat. I’ve seen a performance of this work only once, and I had completely forgotten the first scene. The production’s sung in French, for the most part with a clarity of diction that allows every word to be distinguished. There was a time or two when the projected English translation fell a bit behind. It’s probably just something about the perspective, but to me the prop wood-range appeared to be miniature to the point of laughability.

The reggae fest was gearing up for the evening and had been in session all afternoon. The opera people sent special e-mails and recorded telephone messages to ticketholders, where possible, disseminating parking information and asking people to arrive early. I think that we were among the few who did arrive well before curtain time. It was beginning to look as though there’d be a lot of empty seats, but last-minute arrivals filled them.

The program, which I always read after the performance and never before or during (I like as much as possible to be a surprise), contained an insert informing us that several of those who performed in Dialogues will be on stage for the Gilbert & Sullivan Society performances of Iolanthe in June.

There’s seldom a chance to hear this work performed, and so well. I’m very glad that I was there and would advise any lover of excellent music to look into the availability of tickets. Thank you, Austin Lyric Opera!

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