The association of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert is well known, as is the D’Oyly Carte Company that successfully produced a whole string of comic operas in the period 1870-1900. One of the earliest was the Pirates of Penzance, the premiere of which was held in New York in 1879. It received glowing reports from audiences and critics. The London debut was in 1880 at the Savoy Theatre and performances continued for over a century. The structure of the opera is similar to the others with two Acts preceded by an overture. Tonight, we offer you just the overture, which can be likened to a tasty hors d’oeuvre before the main course. It follows the pattern of most Savoy opera overtures, a lively opening, a slow middle section and a concluding allegro. Woven into the overture are some of the main songs, which appear later. The opening section contains the melody of "With cat-like tread". The middle section dwells on "Ah leave me not to pine alone" and finally, the themes of "How beautifully blue the sky" and "A paradox, a paradox". If you are a fan of G and S, you are sure to recognise them. Performers and musicians have great fun with G and S, although its musical challenges should never be underestimated. We feel sure that you will enjoy the Overture.
Programme notes for BHSO performance, Nov 2010
Written by Steve Armitage
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