I had the pleasure of attending “The Gondoliers,” directed by Catherine Huntress-Reeve and put on by the eminently talented Victorian Lyric Opera Company, a local opera company which may dabble in other light operas, but faithfully produces the Gilbert and Sullivan catalog.
Venice might call to mind romance, but it will be served with a side of ridiculous in this funny and entertaining opera from Victorian Lyric Opera Company.
For those not familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan, the British composers were the masters of witty comedy, silly situations, sharp social satire, and delightful melodies. “The Gondoliers” is a play set in, you guessed it, Venice, where two of the town’s handsomest gondoliers are about to pick brides from amongst all of the eager single ladies. They are barely married when potential trouble descends on Venice in the form of the Duke and Duchess of Plaza Toro, who married their daughter in her infancy to the infant Crown Prince of Barataria – and, conveniently neglected to mention this fact to daughter Casilda who is secretly enamored with drummer Luiz.
What’s the problem, you say, aside from Casilda’s potentially broken heart? Her husband, now the King of Barataria, was adopted in infancy by a gondolier who never told him of his royal origins. Not only that, but his father kept mixing the young prince up with his own infant son, and now no one knows which one is the king – and the two gondoliers, having no idea that one is a king and already married in infancy, have just married two village maidens.
Is your head in a muddle? Well, no worries! The musical delightfully explains each plot point several times to make sure you get it, and the surtitles projected for the lyrics greatly assist the audience in not missing a single witticism or plot twist.
And what a show this is! The opening set of a Venetian canal drew applause from the audience, which is a testament to the professionalism of VLOC’s productions. Scenic Designer William Pressley outdid himself with this two-set opera and the whimsy and romanticism of the sets contributed greatly to the production’s overall charm. The choreography by Helen Aberger was charming and highlighted all of the songs’ silliness throughout the show and the costumes by Denise Young were a feast for the eyes.
The vocalists were all outstanding from the chorus members to the leads, all clearly trained in operatic singing and delightful in their acting abilities. My favorite was Jenellen Fischer in the highly comedic role of Duchess of Plaza Toro. Her facial expressions and vocalizations were hilarious and her voice was outstanding. Another favorite was Blair Eig in the role of Grand Inquisitor Don Alhambra. His rich voice was a treat. However, every single role was sung and acted to perfection.
I highly recommend this hilarious, artful, and high-quality musical production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers.” Venice might call to mind romance, but it will be served with a side of ridiculous in this funny and entertaining opera from Victorian Lyric Opera Company.
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes with one intermission
“The Gondoliers” by the Victorian Lyric Opera Company is playing through March 3, 2019. For more information, click here.