A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan - download pdf or read online
By Gayden Wren
Written greater than a century in the past and before everything seemed even by means of their creators as not anything greater than gentle leisure, the fourteen operas of Gilbert & Sullivan emerged over the process the 20 th century because the world's hottest physique of musical-theater works, rating moment basically to Shakespeare within the heritage of English-language theater. regardless of this resounding reputation and confirmed durability, so much books written concerning the duo have desirous about the authors instead of the works. With this unique exam of all fourteen operas, Gayden Wren fills this void. His daring thesis unearths the main to the operas' sturdiness, no longer within the shrewdpermanent lyrics, witty discussion, or catchy song, yet within the imperative 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 interpreting for any devotee of those captivating works, or certainly for somebody who loves musical theater.
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This excess can be seen in a familiar Gilbertian thought—that good wins over evil only on the stage. Preposteros complains that, as the villain, he must be defeated every night, and Thespis replies, “But look here, you know—virtue only triumphs at night from seven to 10—vice gets the better of it during the other 23 hours. ” The dramatic shape of the opera is, by the standards of the Savoy operas, appalling. Gilbert later became a master of pacing and dramatic ﬂow, but Thespis is very weak in these areas—though, again, Gilbert had no control over many aspects of the show.
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. The falling-asleep/waking-up sequence is theatrically strong, while making Act 2 a nighttime scene (as “previously” done in H. M. S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and Iolanthe), instantly imparts a more evocative dramatic atmosphere. As for “If You’ll Marry Me” and the preceding “Why, Where Be I,” this is the only scene in the opera offering anything approaching the rich chorus material of later Gilbert & Sullivan.
Gilbert learned to make them shorter and funnier, while Sullivan began to score his recitatives more dramatically, using strong instrumental bridges for added musical interest. ” in The Pirates of Penzance. The same conventionality that marks the recitatives hampers Gilbert’s lyrics. A few of the songs have the distinctive Savoy touch, most notably Daly’s “Time Was When Love and I Were Well-Acquainted,” which is everything most of the songs are not—concise, polished, funny and character speciﬁc.
A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan by Gayden Wren