21-24 May 2014
Reviewed by Ann Durrell
The Gondoliers is a comedic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, first performed in 1889. In brief the story is revolves around Casilda, daughter of The Duke of Plaza-Toro who was promised as a baby to the infant son of the King of Barataria. The infant son and heir was taken into the care of a Gondolier in Venice for safety but due to The Gondolier’s fondness for a tipple, he mixes the heir to the throne up with his own son and dies before it can be solved. When the king of Barataria dies, The Duke of Plaza-Toro comes to look for the new king his daughter, can take up her role as Queen. Casilda is not best pleased to hear of her situation as she is already in love with another. Marco and Giuseppe are the two would be kings and staunch republicans who, before discovering of their calling marry Tessa and Fiametta. As the story unfolds, unable to discover who is the next king the Grand inquisitor of Spain sets off to find the infants nursemaid to reveal who should really take the throne.
Act one the set is Venice with classical architecture suspended to give the impression of the grand buildings and gondoliers in the back ground. A change for act two welcomes us to the royal palace at Barataria with the monarchs throne (which switches round to reveal the torture chamber) and gilded doorways and seating.
First onto the stage we meet the chorus of maidens all in girly dresses topped off by some of the best wellies I have seen! The choruses of gondoliers are next on stage and all channeling their inner rock god with dark glasses and white leathers, even dropping some Elvis style dance moves during their first song. We then met the Marco and Giuseppe, acting up to their heart throb status, strutting like god’s gift, the maidens all fawning over them whilst spelling their names in flowers.
The Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro gave me some real laughs, very over the top and pompous, their voices were very strong. I particularly enjoyed “With ducal pomp” and “From the sunny Spanish shore” The Grand Inquisitor of Spain, sung brilliantly, came across as slightly seedy and manipulative, very sure of his status and self-importance.
Tessa and Fiametta, Marco and Giuseppe’s wives, are both fabulous comedic actress, I kept drawing comparisons to Kristen Wiig,the American comedian. Not only was their acting great but their voices too, the production and singing during “In a contemplative fashion” was a particular highlight.
The chorus was made up of musical theatre performers all from the local area. By the standard of their performance, you would be hard pushed to tell that they were not seasoned professionals.
I really enjoyed The Gondoliers, as did the rest of the crowd gauging by their reaction. The gentleman beside me was happily singing along and I could hear toe tapping behind me. I would recommend this as one to watch.
Tickets cost from £20 to £26 (includes £2 booking fee).
For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000