Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chorus Niagara winds up their season this weekend

This is a busy weekend for your humble scribe, as I prepare for a week's vacation from all things electronic. I am not going anywhere; just stepping back from the computer, the cell phone, and all that both entail in your day-to-day life. But today is the final day to get things done on the computer before I shut it - and me - down for a week of much needed R&R. It has been a difficult year, and I am ready for a rest, so outside of day trips to wherever I feel like whenever I feel like, the backyard is my destination of choice for the next week.

That being said, I do want to write a few words about this weekend's concerts with Chorus Niagara; the season finale is tonight at 8 and tomorrow afternoon at 3, both performances at the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre at the Centre for the Arts, Brock University. They don't usually use the Brock venue, but with this weekend being a Gilbert & Sullivan Extravaganza, they might need all those seats. This will be basically a semi-staged concert performance; essentially the chorus and soloists will move around the stage some, but the usual sets and staging is not there. Should be fun, though, and well worth a visit.

Sir Arthur Sullivan was a competent classical composer of his day, and once he met up with William S. Gilbert, they essentially became the Rodgers and Hammerstein of their day before the turn of the last century. Rarely a season went by without a G&S operetta opening in London, all brimming with singable tunes and much fun and frivolity. True, their songs were often repetitive, and their so-called patter songs often sound a little dated today, but they are often updated with more current lyrics to breath new life into them, as was the case a number of years ago when Brian McDonald staged a slew of G&S favourites at the Stratford Festival and packed the Avon Theatre for several seasons in the 80s.

The number of G&S successes were many, from The Gondoliers to The Mikado to, of course, HMS Pinafore. There were some less-successful but no-less enjoyable offerings as well, such as Trail by Jury, and all will be showcased in the Chorus Niagara performances this weekend. It's too bad Gilbert & Sullivan didn't get along all that well, apparently, because their musical collaboration was one of the great success stories of the late 19th century when they were in their heyday.

When you come right down to it, the G&S phenomenom predated and set the course for the musical theatre as we know it today, so in that regard even though some of their material is rather dated today, they blazed a trail many have since followed with equally great success.

Sir Arthur went on to write a grand opera called Ivanhoe and was knighted by Queen Victoria. He died after a long illness in 1900. Sir William was also knighted, by King Edward VII in 1907; he died in 1911 while attempting to save a drowning woman. But both will always be remembered for their 14 operettas that defined an era during the glory days of the British Empire.

Enjoy the Chorus Niagara performances this weekend down at Brock, and if you still need tickets, call the Brock box office at 905-688-5550, ext. 3257. Or, take your chances at the door for either performance. I won't be there this weekend, but if you want a great reminder of the concert, I have a great recording of Gilbert & Sullivan excerpts in stock at A Web of Fine Music, and you can email me at or through my website, But keep in mind, I am closed for repairs, as I call it, until next weekend.

Have a great week!

May 15th, 2010.

1 comment:

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