(How to get there - 281 Fairmount Avenue, Hyde Park, MA)
On Sunday August 25 at 4:00 PM, at the home of Dr. and Mrs. David Sheldon, 281 Fairmount Avenue, Hyde Park, MA This year's picnic will be held at the home of Dr. and Mrs. David Sheldon, our gracious host of two years ago, who live at 281 Fairmount Avenue, Hyde Park, just south of Boston. We'll begin at 4:00 p.m. with a complete sing-through of PATIENCE, accompanied by Ms. Juliet Cunningham, followed by feasting and general merriment. All NEGASS members, prospective members, and their guests are cordially invited.
All those attending the picnic are asked to bring their own entrees and beverages and one item (salad, vegetables, dessert, etc.) to share. Grills (with fuel) will be available for barbecuing, and there will be condiments and paper plates available as well. We suggest that you bring a lawn chair or blanket upon which to enjoy your picnic.
Roles in PATIENCE include:
Contact Program Chair Carl Weggel at (978) 474-0396 or firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know which role you want to sing. (It's a great warm-up if you intend to audition for the production the Sudbury Savoyards will spend this winter preparing! )
JUNE MEETING:NEGASS ELECTIONS AND FANTASY DAY. On Sunday, June 9 elections took place with the following attendees: Janice and Ron Dallas, Don Smith, Dick Freedman, Peter Cameron, Carol Mahoney, Sheldon Hochman, Tony Parkes, Art Dunlap, and myself. As suggested in the previous Trumpet Bray, the elections did go super fast the current slate of candidates were entirely re-instated, with a bit of a game of Musical Chairs among the positions, on a token ballot. Afterwards, Janice gave the latest membership report, and Dick gave the latest treasurer's report.
The business part of the meeting done with, it was time for choruses at least male choruses, as men greatly outnumbered women in this meeting. The shows picked included IOLANTHE, PIRATES, PINAFORE, PATIENCE and IDA. But Janice, as the female soloist, did very well with the solos and even dueted with Art a couple of times. There were some good male solos, too, as Sheldon did well in the King Gama solo, and Peter was very good as Private Willis.
And through it all, accompanist Bonnie Donham did a very admirable job considering she seemed unfamiliar with the music. [Janice adds: "Bonnie was wonderful!"] Carol was as usual great with the refreshments. Overall, to paraphrase Rodgers and Hammerstein (yes, I know they're not), it was a grand afternoon for singing!
(by all means!)
It's time to renew your membership!
The Board's decision several years ago to create extra categories of membership is still in effect - please bear in mind that the majority of our members are still "Yeomen," but that those who wish to contribute more to NEGASS have the opportunity to do so, in the following increments:
Yeomen (basic membership)
(On the other hand, if even the $15 basic membership is a problem, please talk to Membership Chair Janice Dallas. And please note: Charter Members now officialy hold their membership as a gift from the Society - but many insist upon donating at some level.)
Lacking the means for a Display of Fireworks in the Evening, We celebrate these friends by printing a yearly list of Members Extraordinary - those who chose a category higher than Yeomen for the previous year. Here, forthwith, is the list of 2000-2001 Extraordinary Memberships (Bow, bow, ye Lower Middle Classes):
Daughters of the Plough
Bucks and Blades
Flowers of Progress
*Charter Members who have donated gifts to NEGASS
Tentative Meeting Schedule, 2002-2003
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome We New Member Robert Breau from West Sussex, England - Don Smith signed him up at the Buxton G&S Festival. Tell Us, Tell Us all about it!
AS FAR AWAY AS YESTERDAY - LESLIE MOORE: Nancy, Jon, Megan and I are saddened to inform you of the passing of my father, Leslie, May 29, 2002. His health declined quickly over a 36 hour period and he passed away quietly without suffering.
We believe that mother is aware of his death but unable to express herself, and we thank you in advance for your kind wishes and prayers.
At this point there are no arrangements. As was his wish, Dad was transported immediately to the UMass Anatomical Gifts Center in Worcester, MA.
There will be a memorial service and gathering of friends and family for a martini at a later date. We hope to see you then. Meanwhile, raise a glass.
HANCOCK COUNTY CHANGES DIRECTORS (or Dede is Shove'd): A member has alerted Us to an article in the web version of the Weekly Packet of Blue Hill Maine concerning the retirement of Dede Johnson of the G&S Society of Hancock County. The article, by Megan DeFrancesco, explains, "The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Hancock County has been running for 26 years, and Johnson has been an active member from the very beginning. Whether as a performer, director or orchestra member, Johnson's contributions have been evident in virtually every show since the society was founded She became the director because, at that time she says, they could not find one [so she] ended up becoming the director herself. She reported that, in the beginning, she 'was truly petrified. I thought that if I didn't have the answers, people would think I was a fake.' Yet this, she identified, was a wonderful experience for her. She discovered that 'opinions can come from everywhere' and what was needed was 'someone to put it all together.'" Dede is retiring to spend more time with her family, but intends to continue to perform with the group's orchestra.
The article concludes casually with a remarkable piece of news: Dede will be replaced as Stage/Artistic director of the Maine group by Geoffrey Shovelton and his wife, Deborah Clague.
The member who sent Us this information concluded: Who am I? Nobody of any notoriety, but you may recall from the 1980's a NEGASS member named Jean Nickerson. She was my mother.
OCTOBER MEETING: MASTER CLASS WITH EILEEN ST. DAVID: We've been fortunate to have Eileen lead master classes in the spring in past years. This year, we're even more fortunate! She will be teaching her master class this year on October 6.
Sign up to work with her on the song you plan to use for your auditions this winter - whether for the Sudbury Savoyards, who usually hold auditions for their spring show in December, or for one of the other local groups which will be holding auditions in January or February. Or bring in the solo you're singing in the show you're in this fall!
take part, contact Program Chair Carl Weggel at (978) 474-0396
and let him know what you'd like to sing. Space is limited - sign up soon!
MINIATURE G&S THEATER: We've received the following query - can anyone help? We're sure the answer is, yes, there are such images - We just don't know where to send him. Share the info with Us, and We'll run it in the next Bray!
am an avid model maker producing miniature theaters. I would like to make
a model of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, but as of yet am unable to
find any visual information regarding the sets or the cast. As an ex Englander
and theater electrician, I have made most of the UK theaters (in miniature)
but alas not the great Gilbert & Sullivan. Are there any pictures
or photos depicting the scenics or sets? I am reasonably good with Photoshop
7 on the computer. Please can you help?
WESTFORD CHORUS PIRATES: Viva Community Theater! On April 27 and 28, the Westford Chorus decided to branch out from its usual concert, choral productions with a venture into Gilbert & Sullivan's PIRATES OF PENZANCE. One only hopes that they resolve to do more such G&S!
The 8-piece orchestra, under Music Director Daniel Rowntree, was outstanding. It consisted of piano, augmented by winds-1 flute/piccolo, 2 clarinets, 1 oboe/English horn, 1 bassoon, 1 trumpet, and 1 French horn. Of especial note, the bassoonist, Diane Zolnaski, was superb; rating the rest of the orchestra, the flautist, Susan Caplan, was "first among equals." The conductor added a clever theatrical touch: he strode to the podium dashingly dressed in a picturesque pirate's colorful costume. Throughout the show Daniel's choice of tempi and dynamics were excellent; intonation was invariably "spot-on."
Since this was the first venture of the Westford Chorus into staged productions, some members of the chorus were still somewhat unaccustomed to acting whilst singing, although others were completely at ease on stage. The Stage Director, Alexandra Childs, largely resolved this problem by dividing the chorus into thirds. One third formed-to quote choreographer, Pat Montano, - the on-stage "moving chorus," while the remaining two thirds were divided into the two halves of the aptly-named "Greek Chorus" at each side of the rear of the stage, to add their voices to the moving chorus.
Unfortunately, the acoustics of the venue-the auditorium at Blanchard Middle School-did not do justice to the dedicated cast. The same voices that sounded painfully weak in this inhospitable hall evoked high praise a week later, when Westford reprised several scenes at the NEGASS 25th Anniversary Gala on May 5. In particular, the Greek Chorus-tucked unobtrusively upstage near the wings-provided far less vocal augmentation than one might wish. Even sadder in this regard, Frederic, Steven Jong, was the hapless victim of this heartless hall. To quote from PIRATES, Steven "has acted nobly!" in this, his first acting experience. The Pirate King, Dan Swanson, on the other hand, somehow managed to project well in even in this unforgiving venue.
Ruth, Susan Geidel, seemed rather too youthful and far too attractive to satisfy Gilbert's derogatory concept of the role. She also seemed unaccustomed to delivering dialogue. The Girls' Chorus of the wards of General Stanley was both strong and solid, notably in their opening numbers, Climbing over rocky mountain, and What ought we to do. Mabel, Susan Harsell, often seemed somewhat uneasy and tentative on stage.
Stanley, Tom Lumenello, (now a new member of NEGASS)-obviously
a favorite of the audience-displayed an easy insouciance on stage. His
voice is still strong and clear, if no longer always rock solid. A clever
staging-during his entrance to Oh, dry the glistening tear, General
Stanley appeared with a pirate teddy bear, replete with eye patch and
bandana. (A trivia question: Why are pirate captains invariably portrayed
as blind in one eye?)
When the foeman bears his steel featured four Keystone Constables, Ann Bennett, Pat Montano, Lynessa Moses, and Eileen Ross-all women, all excellent! The Sergeant of Police, Dick Curtis, had a mobile face like clay animation, delivering the finest portrayal in the show in such numbers as When a felon's not engaged in his employment.
Arguably, the high point of the show was the Pirate Chorus's Hail, Poetry. This a capella chorus showcased the Westford Chorus at its finest. In this number, the Music Director demonstrated his mastery of dynamics. The Chorus responded with a perfectly-executed, one-measure swell that I have never heard before. The second highlight was We triumph now, from the second-act finale, again featuring the Chorus's strengths. We charge you yield was effected via a large framed print of Queen Victoria.
conclusion, Westford Chorus's production of PIRATES is to
be applauded. The result is perhaps summarized by a scene from PATIENCE,
"I can't help thinking [they're] a little stiff at it. . . Perhaps
[they're] a little awkward at first-but everything must have a beginning.
. . I'm afraid [they're] not quite right. Not supremely, perhaps, but
oh, so all-but! . . . Oh, it's extremely good-for beginners it's admirable!"
IDA AT CLOC: The College Light Opera Co., of Falmouth, MA, presented a terrific production of IDA during the first week of August. This summer theatre features talented young musicians, selected from conservatories across the country, and their vitality brought Sullivan's sparkling score and Gilbert's sharp dialogue to radiant life.
Friesia Schuil as Ida and Samuel H. Perwin as Hilarion were well matched, dramatically and vocally. Their solos were lovely, and The world is but a broken toy was more tender than any love duet. As the warring monarchs, Jacob Allen as King Hildebrand and Michael Salonia as King Gama were excellent, cynical but with a certain nobility of bearing that lent credibility to the plot.
Hilarion's friends Florian and Cyril, played by Bobby Benton and Henry O'Neill respectively, were a delight, especially in I am a maiden, cold and stately. The three sons of Gama, Michael McKinsey, Jason C. Leland, and Corey A.O. Williams, provided rich voices and endearingly bewildered manners. McKinsey's burgundy-hued baritone made This helmet, I suppose sound like Purcell.
The Lady Blanche, Jenny Lynn Towns, delivered a fine Come, mighty must and left no doubt that she would make a formidable headmistress after Ida's departure. As her daughter Melissa, Dayla Perkins was charming. She and the Lady Psyche, Grace Kuckro, sparkled in The woman of the wisest wit - surely one of the catchiest tunes Sullivan ever wrote.
all the ensembles, the fleet-footed cast made the most of Corey A.O.
Williams' choreography. The chorus sounded robust and energetic, and
music director Elizabeth Hastings balanced voices and orchestra
nicely. Stage director Roger Andrews paced the evening well, with
an intermission between the prologue and Act I, and a very short break
before Act II. One especially nice touch: at the end of intermission,
the orchestra's brass section played a fanfare outside the Highfield Theatre,
by way of inviting the full house back to Castle Adamant. Congratulations
to producers Robert and Ursula Haslun and all the CLOC staff for
a delightful evening in the theatre!
IDA AT CLOC - TAKE II: Once again, after seeing the notice for IDA in the all-knowing Bray, Jan and I journeyed to Falmouth for another mini-vacation to include CLOC's presentation of arguably one of the finest of G&S's works. Although the name "College Light Opera Company" may convey the impression of amateur status, it is my opinion that, while the cast may be technically amateur college students, this production definitely can stand with the best of the professionals. G&S is probably better suited to this type of quasi-professional acting, as amateurs tend to add more spontaneity to the show.
Our first pleasant surprise came when we drove up the tree-lined, winding road to "the top of the hill", as the sign read, and came upon a most unusual building of many, many gables. The quaint, almost modern theater was enjoyably air conditioned on this 94 degree matinee day. The 500 or so seats were comfortable, although the floor was not slanted enough and the vision over the person in front was difficult.
CLOC followed G&S's original format of a prologue followed by 2 acts. The intermission was after the prologue only, and there was only a few minute's pause between the acts. This was done efficiently.
Although the overture to IDA is not the most exciting music, the oboe solos (Anthea Halsey) were clear and haunting. The conductor (Aron Accurso) accurately followed Sullivan's tempos throughout the performance and brought out the best in the complete orchestra. At no time did the orchestra overpower the voices, although the singers definitely need microphones in this long theater.
The opening scene usually lacks movement in the chorus, but director (Roger Andrews) and choreographer (Corey A. O. Williams) made certain that everyone was actively searching for Gama's arrival. Hildebrand (Jacob Allen) elicited many laughs with his gigantic crimson robe which almost everyone managed to step on. His voice showed clarity and range, but needed amplification to be heard in the rear of the hall.
Gama (Michael Salonia) was outstanding in his costume (by Mary Linda), his hunched movements, (he actually appeared to slither across the stage) and his clearly animated renditions of If you will give me your attention and Whene'er I spoke.
The scenery (by Scott Henkels) was simple, adequate, and did not distract from the choruses. The talented use of lighting periodically created the illusion of scene changes. The chorus members were fully costumed in similar dress, but yet there was an individual touch to each outfit which gave the appearance of a more genuine crowd and not just a staged chorus. This was especially notable in the robes worn by Adamant's students. Each girl wore the same basic robe, but the shawls were individually colored and arranged.
Gama's sons (Jason C. Leland, Michael McKinsey, and Corey A.O. Williams) appeared as real country bumpkins with their black moustaches and beards. Clearly, intelligent they were not!
The end of the intermission was rousingly announced with a brass quartet (Michael P. Flynn, John Maggi, Leah Jones, and Elizabeth Lewis) appearing on the outside balcony of the playhouse playing the flourish for Ida's entrance in the last act.
When Ida (Friesia Schuil) made her grand entrance, she instantly was recognizable as royalty. Her dress was similar to her other students; she wore no jewelry, crown or other accouterments of her office, but her shimmering long hair, reaching to her waist, and her regal bearing, at once commanded deference. The high note of Minerva almost appeared to reach heaven itself. Her presentation of Oh, goddess wise transformed the performance to grand opera and brought a swell of applause from the audience. Once, again, a microphone to amplify the singing would have been welcome. Her soliloquy Women of Adamant might have been done more slowly to let the words sink in better.
Blanche (Jenny Lynn Towns) was excellently confusing in her slow, deliberate rendition of Come, mighty Must, complete with chalkboard.
When Hilarion (Samuel H. Perwin) was entering Adamant's castle, he simply stepped over the low fence while his friends (Bobby Benton and Henry O'Neill) struggled to climb the wall, which made a humorous staging. (Can they be compared to Gama's sons??)
Lady Psyche (Grace Kuckro) performed A Lady fair (the monkey song) with a refreshing, clear voice and perfect enunciation which could be heard by all the audience. Marionettes were used to cleverly compare the apeman and the fairest beauty queen.
Hildebrand's soldiers could have been more lively, but they performed their task. Ida's army looked ferocious with their huge axes, but their helmets of pots and pans conveyed their lack of serious intent.
Arac's (Jason C. Leland) song This helmet I suppose was well done, but when the last of the armor, the greaves, (yes, Sir William, that is what they are called) were removed, the three brothers stood in rather plain gray dress. (I've seen performances where they end up wearing red long johns, which brings the house down.)
The finale was classic, with Hilarion and Ida being a couple, etc. But when Gama quickly slithered behind the chorus and gleefully grabbed Blanche, covered her with his cloak, and she eventually took his hand, the audience broke into uncontrolled applause as appreciation of a great afternoon of true G&S entertainment.
PIRATES IN GERMAN: Just thought I'd drop a line about the production of PIRATES as part of an International Operetta season this spring at the Volksoper in Vienna (yes, the Austrian one), in case none of your other sources has already done so. It's now 2 months since I saw it, but I hope I can remember some of the salient points.
As the publicity I read on the web was in German, I just assumed the performance would be in German, which sounded intriguing, and I didn't even bother to check on this point when I booked. I was therefore somewhat disconcerted when the opening chorus launched into the familiar "Pour, oh pour", etc. in flawless English, To my surprise, however, the ensuing dialog took place in Deutsch, and from then on we were on a switchback in which I estimate that about 80% of the show was in German and 20% in English - with no apparent pattern as to what was in which!
We were privileged to have Dame Gwyneth Jones as Ruth, and her German seemed as fluent as anyone's (to my untutored ear). Mabel was a Japanese lady with a beautiful voice and equally fluent German, while the only other Anglophone principals were the two Fredericks. Yes, the two Fredericks...
I don't know if a similar idea has been tried out elsewhere before, at least publicly, but this director (Matthias Schönfelt) had decided that the best way to express Frederick's conflicts of interest was to treat him as a physically split personality. Once he had decided to quit as a pirate, his conscience (previously masquerading as the prompt) came on stage for a philosophical discussion of the situation, which was way beyond my simple understanding of German, even tho' they too occasionally reverted to English...). The "conscience" took over the role when the character was on the side of the law, whereupon the original actor became HIS conscience. As you may imagine, this was more than a little confusing, especially for someone like me who was struggling to keep up with the action, so I have probably missed most of the subtleties.
The set - as often seems to happen nowadays in professional productions - was fairly sparse. In Act I it consisted solely of the pirate ship, spread diagonally across much of the stage, with some artfully-arranged paper streamers on the floor to suggest the waves, especially when the ladies' chorus came paddling on. In Act II the boat was gone, and we were down to a flagpole, which the Union Jack and the Jolly Roger were being continually run up and down, depending on who was winning the battle at the time.
I don't recall much specifically about the cast, other than as mentioned above, but the singing and playing were what one would expect of a good professional oper(ett)a-house, the theatre was sold out, and the show was well-appreciated by an audience that included a good percentage of Anglophones.
Hope this is of some interest - it was certainly a new twist on a well-known theme.
wishes for the picnic and the new season
YOUNG VICTORIAN THEATER COMPANY: I doubt that its any sort of record, but my wife & I were most fortunate to have just seen IOLANTHE in Baltimore a mere 8 days after Dede [Johnson]'s RUDDIGORE in [Hancock County] Maine, 700 miles away.
Though happy to have gotten last minute tickets, we were apprehensive that the location--2nd row stage right--would detract from the experience. Boy, were we wrong! Many of the songs were sung right in front of us!
A terrific performance by the Young Victorian Theatre Company of Baltimore. Perhaps you'd like to add their website, http://www.yvtc.org/ , to your links page.
Didn't anybody write Us a review? We saw the show, and quite enjoyed it!
IN-PROGRESS PDF BRAY ARCHIVE We've been posting PDF versions of recent Brays on the web. What does this mean? It means that if you have a (free and easily accessible) copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer, you can print out a copy of the issue you want, looking pretty much the same as the copy you received in the mail - in case you lost your old copy, or want to give a copy to someone else. Ultimately, We hope to create a more nearly complete archive of old Brays in PDF format.
ABOUT CONTRIBUTING TO THE TRUMPET BRAY:
All contributions are welcome, of course - but, strictly speaking, only activities and articles relating to G&S ought to be published. (…although an occasional Yes We Know It's Not slips by when the subject relates to a promising activity presented by long-standing and active member of NEGASS.)
Visit http://leedscarroll.com/GSEnsembles.html for a list of G&S ensembles suitable for excerpt programs.
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