Saturday, 8 August 2009

G&S in 3/4 Time (Elise Curran)

Introduced to us as the "Florida Foghorn" (followed by some strange noise from backstage, can't imagine who), Elise Curran gave a recital of various pieces of Gilbert and Sullivan (and some other) music, all in 3/4 time, but covering quite a variety of styles. Each piece was introduced and explained in Elise's particular style, full of fascinating little details and obscure oddments (I'd never thought of "I built upon a rock" as a march, for instance), and then sung, either by Elise alone, or with her guest assistants (her page-turner stepped up to sing alto, and then two men who'd been sitting in the audience were suddenly called upon to complete a quartet), or by the entire audience, in the case of songs with a chorus.

Michael and I had to be apologies for half a Savoynet rehearsal to attend this, but it was totally worthwhile (especially since our involvement in the S'net show is fairly slight). Each half of the programme included one number from Grand Duke, and from the lack of strong voices joining in on the chorus, it was clear we were the only ones who'd wagged rehearsal! Fortunately the audience's contribution was more firm in such numbers as "Thank you, gallant gondolieri" (hey, we mostly just have to sing a whole lot of "tra la") and Elise's signature tune "Poor wand'ring one"... there's nothing like a good audience chorus.

Of course, as well as the familiar pieces, there were some that were more obscure; Gilbert's "Princess Toto" and Sullivan's "The Chieftain" each contributed a song. This is likely the only airtime either opera will get in the entire festival, so those songs should feel privileged that they were written in 3/4! It is fun to get the odd song that we've seldom, perhaps never, heard before. (And who knows - might give someone a reason to look up the whole show, and find something they might never have seen else.)

It was, as hoped for, a fun and informative afternoon. Many thanks to Elise, the page-turner-and-alto (Jo Savournin), and the two men who joined them (John Savournin, and Richard Cotton, who was called in at the last moment!), and of course to the pianist, John Howells. Much enjoyed it.

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