Newbury Operatic Society - A Gilbert & Sullivan evening
24th to 25th October 2002.
From the Newbury Weekly News.
NEWBURY OPERATIC SOCIETY: AN EVENING WITH GILBERT AND SULLIVAN, at The Corn Exchange, on Thursday, October 24
When a group such as the Newbury Operatic Society puts on a concert of Gilbert and Sullivan they naturally want to include lots of choruses, even though most of them are less popular than the better-known songs for soloists. Hence the large number of act finales in the programme: they allow the chorus to join in rather more. Overall though I did feel this led to a somewhat eclectic selection.
Of course, singing some more neglected pieces is praiseworthy in itself, and I did enjoy them, but just a few more old chestnuts might have leavened the mix.
A little more pace in the proceedings would have helped to jolly up the first half up especially. Anne Bennett's friendly and authoritative introductions were very welcome, but at the end of each piece she sat down with the choir, then had to get up again to come to the lectern. Why not skip the sitting down? A very small point, I know, it would have helped the evening flow seamlessly. Attention to detail does matter.
The second half lifted considerably, as is often the case. Even so, I was not really gripped as I felt that a little more vigour was needed at times. A few more of the society's younger members in the line-up would have helped to give the impression of vim even if they didn't make much actual difference musically. Impressions do count, unfortunately. I do wonder why Gilbert and Sullivan fails to inspire enthusiasm in the young.
Two soloists did stand out, largely because they injected a little more spirit into the proceedings: Iain Whittaker and Sam Murray.
If I seem uncharitable it is because G & S needs an essential element of fun to make it live, and only occasionally did I find that. I was glad I hadn't taken a newcomer to the genre; they would not have been converted to the cause by this.