The Gondoliers, set in 18th Century Italy, opens with our two humble protagonists Marco (Darby) and Giuseppe (Entwhistle), and their weddings to Gianetta (Panzarin) and Tessa (Finlayson). Just when they are preparing to settle down together, the Grand Inquisitor (Mason) announces that one of the two gentlemen is in fact the son of the late King, hidden away for safety. However, the Inquisitor is unsure of which of the men is royalty and while waiting for the opinion of the nurse who hid the baby away all those years ago, he declares that the two men must rule as one until the matter is cleared.
Unfortunately, the man who is to become the King must also be betrothed to the reluctant Casilda (Poropat), thus breaking the marriage that he had just begun.
What follows is an entertaining comedy concerning the inability of the Gondoliers to rule, the jealousness of their wives threatened with the impending doom of their marriage and numerous sub-plots as all of the court nobles squabble for higher social status or for love.
With a cast of over forty people, The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Sydney Production of The Gondoliers is an exercise in excess and extravagance. From the huge chorus numbers to the strikingly detailed costuming, the play is every bit as lavish as the world of excessive nobility it portrays.
As you would expect, the chorus all do spectacularly well in their huge operatic numbers. The lead actresses of the piece, namely Panzarin, Finlayson and Poropat, all do incredibly in their roles and carry their songs beautifully. Mason as the Grand Inquisitor and Sinclair as Casilda’s pompous and camp father are both hilarious, stealing the scenes they are in even when they aren’t speaking.
There were a few moments when the main singers got lost amongst the sound of the orchestra, which made me wish that some of the cast had been fitted with a lapel mic. Furthermore, in the large chorus numbers, the dancing was not particularly polished, making it look clumsy and unenergetic in contrast to the bouncy music. The incredibly tight singing of the ensemble makes it forgivable, though.
If you’re a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan or an Opera Buffa I would highly recommend going and seeing this piece. The music is enchanting, and with the extravagant costuming and set design it is a treat to sit back and watch.
The Gondoliers runs until the 3rd of October at the Smith Auditorium Lyric Theatre, Shore School, North Sydney. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.gsosydney.com.au/current-show.html
Featuring: Dean Sinclair, Michael Bond, Anthony Mason, Spencer Darby, Tristan Entwistle, Johanne Perera, David Budden, Matt Cobb-Clark, Kevin Gormley, Catherine Bulfin, Stephanie Jennifer Poropat, Marisa Panzarin, Anne-Louise Finlayson, Minh Huynh, Ella Arendelle, Amy Balales, and Christine Premdas-Rogers.
Chorus: Nick Adams, Sophie Almada, Kassie Carroll, Elizabeth Carter, Lucy Casula, Michael Darmody, Kyran David, Marie Deverill, David Elias, Virginia Fuller, Tessa Grey, Matthew McAnally, Colin McLaughin, Emma Meredith, Merryll-Anne Morris, Norbert Neville, Garry O’Sullivan, Catherine Pearce, Rita Piras, Dawn Pugh, Lucy Ruckley, Lynda Sanders, Richard Sellaro, Ellie Singer, Andrew Stark, Lisa Stewart and Norika Yamanaka.
Creative Team: Gordon Costello (Director), Rod Mounjed (Musical Director), Elizabeth Lowrence (Choreographer), Ali Ware (Set Designer), Emily James (Set Artist) and Sandi Tutt (Costumer).
Above image by Ray Wing-Lun