Another Evening with Gilbert and Sullivan, November 2007

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AN EVENING WITH GILBERT AND SULLIVAN
November 16 and 17, 2007

An evening of excerpts from Iolanthe and Mikado, two of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most lively operettas, featuring a cast of fine singers from Nova Scotia and Ontario, under the direction of Tara Scott.

Kara Morris, soprano (Phyllis/Yum-Yum)
Anne Stockdale, soprano (Ceilia and Peep Bo)
Wendy DeMarco, soprano (Leila)
Claire Jaworski, soprano, (Yum-Yum)
Robin Moir, soprano, (Peep Bo)
Katherine Heim, soprano (Pitti Sing)
Julie Rudolph, mezzo (Iolanthe/Pitti-Sing)
Nina Scott-Stoddart, contralto (Queen of the Fairies/Katisha)
Lenard Whiting, tenor (Strephon/Nanki-Poo)
Bobby Jones, tenor (Lord Tolloller)
Ross Darlington, baritone (Lord Chancellor/Ko Ko)
Jeff Doran, baritone (Lord Mountararat/Pish Tush)
Robert Milne, bass (Private Willis/Pooh Ba/Mikado)

MCO Chorus — Gus Webb, rehearsal accompanist

Friday November 16, Chester Playhouse, Chester, 8 pm
Saturday November 17, Pearl Theatre, Lunenburg, 8 pm

SYNOPSIS of IOLANTHE

Iolanthe, a fairy, had, five-and-twenty years ago, married a mortal, a rising young barrister (who later becomes The Lord Chancellor), thereby involving the penalty of death. But the Fairy Queen commuted the sentence to penal servitude for life, a sentence she is worked out at the bottom of a stream, so as to be near her son, Strephon. Strephon, who is half-fairy and half-mortal, subsequently falls in love with Phyllis, a ward in the Chancery (and therefore under the direct control of the Lord Chancellor).

Fairies of course never grow old, and so when Phyllis catches Strephon caressing Iolanthe, who looks so young, she cannot believe Iolanthe is his mother. Moreover, all the Peers, together with the Lord Chancellor, are in love with Phyllis. They all conspire to encourage Phyllis in this disbelief until at length she denounces her lover Strephon, who, in despair, invokes the aid of the Queen of the Fairies. Phyllis now offers herself to two most persistent lovers, Mountararat and Tolloller; she does not care which. The Fairy Queen prepares a deadly retribution.

She decrees that Strephon shall enter Parliament. He is returned by a huge majority as a Liberal Conservative and is made leader of both parties, in which position he carries every conceivable measure, much to the discomfiture of the noble Peers. Meanwhile, all the Fairies fall in love with the Peers. The Fairy Queen herself falls victim to the charms of Private Willis who is on sentry-duty at Palace Yard. Iolanthe now discloses her identity as the wife of the somewhat myopic Lord Chancellor, thereby incurring the death penalty.

The Lord Chancellor, with that subtle instinct common to the legal profession, finds a loophole by the insertion of a single word. Thus the Fairy Code of ‘death to those who marry mortals’ becomes ‘death to those who don’t marry mortals’. All are thus happily united. Fairy wings sprout from the shoulders of the Peers and we are left with the beautiful conception of a Parliament composed of Peers and Fairies.

SYNOPSIS of MIKADO

Nanki-Poo, the son of the Mikado, assuming the disguise of a travelling musician, has fled from his father’s court in order to escape marriage with the elderly Katisha. He has fallen in love with the beautiful Yum-Yum but has been prevented from marrying her by Ko-Ko (her guardian), who also wants to marry her. At the beginning of Act One Nanki-Poo is hastening back to court Yum-Yum, having heard that Ko-Ko has been condemned to death for flirting. Nanki-Poo hopes that Yum-Yum will now be free to marry him. Nanki-Poo learns from Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush that Ko-Ko has become Lord High Executioner, thus preventing his own sentence of death from being carried out. In fact, Ko-Ko is to marry Yum-Yum that afternoon.

A letter from the Mikado presents Ko-Ko with the challenge, the Mikado orders him to execute somebody or lose his position as Lord High Executioner. He is considering whom to execute when Nanki-Poo appears, intent upon suicide as he cannot marry Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko proposes that Nanki-Poo should marry Yum-Yum for one month and then submit to public execution. General rejoicing follows this solution, after which Katisha appears in search of her beloved Nanki-Poo. Driven away, she seeks an audience with the Mikado.

The blissfully happy Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo are preparing for their forthcoming wedding. However, Ko-Ko arrives with the distressing news that, according to a law he has just discovered, when a married man is executed his wife must be buried alive, Nanki-Poo resolves to kill himself. This of course presents a further problem for Ko-Ko, as he will need to find someone else to execute. Nanki-Poo offers himself for immediate decapitation but Ko-Ko cannot perform the task, not wanting to be cause of Yum-Yum’s death but thinks of an alternative solution; Pooh-Bah makes a false affidavit that Nanki-poo has been executed and that Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo prepare to leave the country.

When the Mikado appears Ko-Ko thinks that he has come to check up on whether the execution has been carried out, and so produces the affidavit and describes the decapitation in gruesome detail. In fact, the Mikado has come with Katisha in search of his lost son. When it becomes apparent that the person Ko-Ko has “executed” is the Mikado’s son, Ko-Ko and his accomplices are declared guilty of the dreadful crime of killing the Heir Apparent. They quickly explain the falsehood and produce Nanki-poo alive. Katisha, learning that Nanki-Poo has married Yum-Yum, isfurious. However, Ko-Ko resolves the situation once again by offering his own hand to Katisha who, after some persuasion, accepts him. The opera ends in general happiness and celebration.