A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan by Gayden Wren

By Gayden Wren

Written greater than a century in the past and before everything looked even via their creators as not anything greater than gentle leisure, the fourteen operas of Gilbert & Sullivan emerged over the process the 20th century because the world's hottest physique of musical-theater works, score moment merely to Shakespeare within the heritage of English-language theater. regardless of this resounding reputation and confirmed durability, so much books written in regards to the duo have fascinated about the authors instead of the works. With this exact exam of all fourteen operas, Gayden Wren fills this void. His daring thesis unearths the foremost to the operas' toughness, no longer within the smart lyrics, witty discussion, or catchy tune, yet within the crucial issues underlying the characters and tales themselves. Like Shakespeare's comedies, Wren indicates, the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan undergo due to their undying issues, which communicate to audiences as powerfully now as they did the 1st time they have been played. Written out of an abiding love for the Savoy operas, this quantity is key examining for any devotee of those captivating works, or certainly for a person who loves musical theater.

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Extra resources for A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan

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Only one song in Trial by Jury is at all imagistic—“Comes the Broken Flower,” whose hackneyed flower imagery makes it the least engaging spot in the show. Otherwise, the lyrics are direct and matter-of-fact. The characters tell stories, make their cases, and maneuver for advantage without a single word being wasted. Brevity produces clarity. In a full-length show, both men probably would have been seduced into trying to do more than they were capable of doing. Flowery language would mar the clean lines of the show, the recitatives would be drawn out, extra characters would muddle the story, thematic considerations would be introduced, “serious” music would dilute the wittiness of the score.

The Act 2 setting, formerly a marketplace half an hour after Act 1, was changed to the same scene as Act 1, but at midnight. Accordingly, a new ending for the Act 1 finale was written, showing the characters falling asleep, and a new Act 2 opening to show them awakening. The new material, from the big finish for “Oh Marvelous Illusion” to the spooky trio “ ’Tis Twelve, I Think” and the rollicking chorus number “If You’ll Marry Me” (with its accompanying country dance), is the best sustained sequence in the show.

Overall, then, Thespis offers only the faintest opportunity to see the emerging Gilbert & Sullivan. Even if the music still existed, we would be seeing not their earliest ideas of comic opera but a version of those ideas heavily distorted by the expectations of the Gaiety audience. ” They took their artistic work seriously and demanded control of every aspect of the production process. Many of their disagreements with each other centered on this need for control. Their partnership with D’Oyly Carte gave them an unprecedentedly free hand to express their creative ideas.

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