- If G&S did Eurovision…
By Mark Pim, with suggestions from Emma Rettie and Jonathan Broad
Unfortunately time – and good taste – prevented Gilbert and Sullivan from ever writing a Eurovision song. But if they had done for some of their characters, what might they have sung?
(Get ready for some torturous G&S puns. Although some of these work suprisingly well as is)
Flying the Flag (For You) sung by The Pirate King
Diva sung by Yum-Yum
Puppet on a string sung by Lady Jane
Take me to your heaven sung by Thespis
Save your kisses for me sung by Alexis
While you’re here – take a look at the details of our next show – The Grand Duke! Details here
Waterloo – sung by Phoebe (to Wilfred)
Rise like a phoenix sung by Sir Roderic Murgatroyd
Making your mind up sung by Edwin (the defendent)
Hold me now sung by Luiz and Casilda
Just hold me now
And I will know
Though we’re apart
We’ll always be together 😢
Tu te reconnaîtras (you’ll recognize yourself) sung by Hilarion, Cyril, Florian, Melissa and Lady Psyche
Better the devil you know sung by Ludwig and Rudolph
Baby, don’t do things that make me blue
You know my love is always true
Baby, don’t do things that take their toll
Like make me eat a sausage roll
Ne partez pas sans moi (don’t leave without me) sung by Leila and Celia
Congratulations sung by Ralph and Josephine
Boom-bang-a-bang sung by Tarara
Bonus entry – My Lovely Horse sung by Major General Stanley
- The Grand Duke – Sullivan’s hidden gem polished to a sparkle from the original manuscript
The premiere of Colin Jagger’s restored score for Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Grand Duke will be performed in London at the Bridewell Theatre on the 7-10th June 2023, and at the International Festival in Buxton on 4th August. Buy tickets from The Grand Duke page
Colin Jagger, for 20 years Director of Music at the University of Portsmouth, hates to let error-ridden published scores detract from some of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s best music. Having previously prepared a new critical performing edition of The Yeomen of The Guard for Oxford University Press, he saw Gilbert and Sullivan’s last collaboration – The Grand Duke – as an obvious candidate for reappraisal:
“There is something about being told repeatedly that one of the last works by a great composer who was only 55 at the time, was actually very substandard – I struggled to believe it. And so, when the British Library acquired the manuscript during the pandemic and it became available to study I decided to have a look. I was immediately taken with it, and far from it being substandard, I am more inclined to think it is at least musically one of their best works.”
In preparing the score, Colin was struck with how Sullivan, “writing with a fairly basic ink pen, could work so unbelievably quickly and with so few errors”. Published scores in the intervening years have been less accurate unfortunately, introducing innumerable mistakes, discrepancies and contradictions, which have plagued amateur and professional groups attempting to produce the work ever since. And so, after nearly two years of painstaking and meticulous work, both to faithfully transcribe Sullivan’s intentions in the manuscript and to collate all the materials – music, lyrics, dialogue, stage directions, we now have what will hopefully become the de facto performing edition of this work.
The proof of any theatrical work is of course a live performance. Grosvenor Light Opera Company (GLOC) were serendipitously planning to present The Grand Duke in 2023. Colin offered them the opportunity to ‘try out’ the new edition in practice and the company leapt at the chance.
Director Vicky Simon and Musical Director Christopher Jacklin both see the piece’s flaws as a product of the fractious working relationship between the authors after personal and financial disagreements. By the time of The Grand Duke their interest in the partnership had waned and neither had interest in refining the work as they had done for previous operas. While the pair meticulously edited, supervised and revised scores and libretti to earlier works such as The Pirates of Penzance or The Mikado (and so we may regard them as definitive and authorial), The Grand Duke (which never benefitted from a revival in Gilbert’s lifetime) had far less editorial oversight or care. Colin’s new edition gives it that care, and in this production Vicky and Christopher have been judicious in cuts to the book to keep it trim and well paced, while keeping true to the setting, costuming and presentation that Gilbert and Sullivan intended.
The company have found in rehearsal that Colin’s new edition has been prepared with care not just for its authors, but for the performer. The vocal score is abundant with careful aids to musical directors and singers: alternative lyrics and underlays, optional cuts and fully cross-referenced parts and chorus books and an abridged version provides an easily accessible performing edition of the work. It’s an edition designed to be performed by companies of all sizes and resources. The vocal score and a reduced chorus score will be released for free with the orchestral parts and full score available commercially.
A new edition such as this can give this overlooked gem of a work the recognition it has lacked and enable many more companies to enjoy what it has to offer. Anyone interested in seeing the results is encouraged to book a ticket to GLOC’s production, either in London at The Bridewell Theatre on Fleet Street (7-10th June only. 7:30pm, matinee at 2:30pm on Saturday) or on the 4th August at the International Gilbert and Sullivan festival in Buxton. More details and tickets at The Grand Duke page
About Colin Jagger
Colin read music at Manchester University, before moving to the USA for a second degree in orchestral conducting. He ended up living there for seven years before moving back to the UK and got a job as Director of Music at the University of Portsmouth, where he remained for 20 years. He now devotes his time to research.
Grosvenor Light Opera Company is London’s leading G&S Society, and one of the only amateur operatic societies both to rehearse and perform in Central London. As a result, they attract a membership largely of young professionals, who work in the centre of town, together with some students attending one of London’s universities and colleges.
They perform at least one fully-staged G&S production, accompanied by a professional orchestra, every season and supplement this with other staged and semi-staged concert performances.
The company was founded in September 1949 by John Wilmshurst, its purpose being to study and perform the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Over the years it has become the leading amateur company in London for presenting the Savoy Operas.
- Cast for The Grand Duke
We are delighted to announce the cast for our upcoming production of The Grand Duke, 4-10 June 2023, Bridewell Theatre, London EC4Y 8EQ. It’s shaping up to be a great show, not to be missed!
Ludwig – Daniel Morris
Rudolph – Philip W. Errington
Ernest – Andrew Hurst
Notary – James Chadburn
Herald – Alex Scott
Prince of Monte Carlo – Geoffrey Farrar
Costumier – Stoo Gill
Julia – Harriet Flower
Lisa – Rachel Middle
Baroness Von Krakenfeldt – Emma Rettie
The Princess of Monte Carlo – Lissy Fothergill
Gretchen – Cate McDermott
Elsa – Pei Tan
Bertha – Caroline Taunt
Olga – Alex Hill
- Sign up to audition for The Grand Duke by Gilbert and Sullivan
GLOC are holding auditions this week for our next production – Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Grand Duke – performing in London 7th-10th June, and at the International G&S Festival in Buxton on 4th August. We are a friendly and welcoming amateur company who have been performing G&S in London for over 50 years.
We do not audition for chorus members. All are welcome — just come along!
Auditions for principal parts will take place on:
- Wednesday 8 February (6:50pm – 10pm)
- Saturday 11 February (10am – 2pm)
Both days will be held at our regular rehearsal venue: St Gabriel’s Halls, Churchill Gardens Rd, Pimlico, SW1V 3AA
Auditions can be booked by filling out the form located here
Please see the link below to find the dialogue exerpts and suggested music for the auditions:
In addition, the following Welcome Pack gives full details of the show itself, the company, key dates, and a character breakdown:
Auditions will last around ten minutes and consist of an English language song of the candidate’s own choice and an extract of spoken libretto, followed by a brief chat. The audition songs listed above are suggestions, but candidates should feel free to choose any appropriate piece that shows them off to the best of their ability. In the interests of time, however, please select a section of around 2 minutes in duration, and please choose a piece in English.
You are not required to have learnt the audition material by heart and are welcome to sing/read from the music/script. However, it is in your interests to ensure you are familiar enough with the material to be able to perform freely and respond to direction.
If you wish to be considered for more than one part please indicate this on the audition form; however you will only be able to do one audition slot.
There is a £10 audition fee; please bring £10 along with you on the day of the audition. If you do join the production, this audition fee is then deducted from your membership fee (so for those who continue in a chorus or principal role, there is no additional cost for auditioning).
- What a welcome!
We had our open rehearsal for The Grand Duke last night and it was lovely to see such a large turnout – especially given the train strikes making it more difficult for people to get into London. Thank you to everyone who managed to make it and for the fantastic sound we all made together!
We heard from our director Vicky and musical director Chris about the show, and how they plan to approach this often overlooked Gilbert and Sullivan show. It’s a show which never got the benefit of revisions and refinement that many of their other shows underwent and so suffers from some flabby dialogue and a few cuttable musical numbers. Rest assured Vicky and Chris will be applying some judicious editoral scissors to cut the show down to its lean best!
If you missed the open rehearsal then fear not – there’s still lots of time to get involved in The Grand Duke. Head to our Join GLOC page to find out more and to sign up to our mailing list to hear details about rehearsals.
Take a look at our welcome pack to learn more, and fill in the form to register your interest in the show, or to book an audition slot