Thursday, September 22, 2011
To Dunedin again
Of course it was great to be there for the 70th birthday of our friend Shirley. But the timing of this visit was around another show by the passionate Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan Performance Trust. Year by year they are working through the complete suite of G&S operas and this year is Utopia Limited.
We didn’t know much about this one, but we knew it would be well done As Gilbert’s sharp satire introduced controversial issues of the 1880s through the medium of Sullivan’s great music, we laughed and hummed along. But Gilbert’s swipes at big business, insolvency, the legal system and so on had an all too familiar ring about them.
My own particular interest was that one of his “Flowers of Progress” that were eventually found to be wanting was the introduction of County Councils - I couldn’t agree more! And the way that party politics can frustrate progress of every kind is a subtle 1880s joke that is illustrated daily in our nation’s life.
The opera was born of an uneasy relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan after the “carpet affair”. But its presentation last week demonstrated excellent cooperation between all involved. The Southern Sinfonia was rounded and robust but beautifully restrained when required by the totally competent and wonderfully costumed characters on stage. The result was a satisfying, amusing and thoughtful evening.