Gala celebration of G&S in Chichester

Tarantara head to Chichester on their mission to free up G&S.
Tarantara G&S Gala 2022 - photo by Alistair GreenTarantara G&S Gala 2022 - photo by Alistair Green
Tarantara G&S Gala 2022 - photo by Alistair Green

Their Gala Celebration of Gilbert & Sullivan will be at the venue on January 19, featuring favourites from The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore, Yeomen, Gondoliers and Iolanthe, plus some gems that may be less familiar. They will be performed by singers from Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Garsington, Carl Rosa and D’Oyly Carte including Alexander Robin Baker, Rebecca Bottone, Barry Clark, Siân Dicker, Yvonne Howard, Lauren Joyanne Morris and Matthew Siveter with a 26-piece orchestra, led by conductor Martin Handley (ENO, BBC Concert Orchestra, Australian Opera and regular presenter for BBC Radio 3).

Martin, a co-founder of Tarantara, said: “I think generally Gilbert & Sullivan have had a bit of a bad press really. What I mean by that is that people seem to think that they are rather fusty, that they are for elderly people and that they are rather cliched. And they are definitely not! I think the problem was that with the whole thing being run by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, it meant that everything was rather held in aspic for a long time. Gilbert made really tight productions which were great, I'm sure, in their time, but they are not great if people then decide that they have to be completely preserved as they were and that you're not allowed to change anything for a century.

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“I think we're getting out of that now and people are doing some really interesting things but I do think there's a danger that people fall into that you have, say, one character being played for real and the other one really going for the gags and that doesn't really work either. Really what we are wanting to show is that the words are so good that you don't need to mess around with them at all and that they absolutely work on their own. The words are still funny. They are still pertinent. They are still timely. And if you strip back the additional layers of varnish that have accrued over the years, the words will definitely still come up shiny and new.

“We go back as a company to 2014. What happened was that a lot of us had worked for the Carl Rosa company that toured with G&S and operetta and so on but that company no longer operates. But we had always had a good relationship with Chichester. In fact I've been going to Chichester since 1968 when I was taken see Fiddler on the Roof from school with Tevye in it and I just fell in love with the place. And then when Carl Rosa stopped touring, we were asked if we would be interested in keeping doing something there. And so we did.”

Inevitably there is still something of a hangover from the pandemic in terms of bookings but probably not at Chichester: “The great thing about Chichester is that we have already been going there. We've been regulars there so I think people know the name and know that it is going to be good. It's harder when you're playing somewhere that you haven't been before. but the reception we have had when we've played places is always excellent. Really I think you've just got to keep beavering away.”

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