Parker Hall at First Parish Church in Lexington has been reserved for NEGASS for Saturday, December 11 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. We will also have use of the kitchen if it is needed and the use of the fireplace. (I will provide kindling and logs.) The piano has recently been tuned.
HOW TO GET THERE: First Parish is located at 7 Harrington Road, at the other end of the town green from the Minute Man Statue in Lexington center. Harrington Road can be approached either by Massachusetts Avenue or Bedford Street. Enter the drive to the left of the church. There is a public telephone which can be answered near the space we will be using. The number is: 781-862-9771.
Everyone should enter the church at the rear where there is an elevator. Parker Hall is on the lower level. People can park behind the church; there is also on-street parking. --NANCY BURDINE
More about the party: If the weather is being snowy or icy, call Program Chair Dave Leigh at (781) 894-3009 to see if the party is still on. Carol Mahoney notes that the date is the Eve of St. Lucia, the Scandinavian Midwinter Solstice and Celebration of Light!
Some main dishes will be provided, but you are also welcome to bring a dessert, ethnic treat, appetizer or drink. If your dish needs a serving utensil, please bring one, labeled with your name. (If you please!)
Entertainment: there will probably be singing, so bring your scores. It is not yet known if there will be video equipment.
[NOTE: Our reviewer arrived late, and therefore used his overactive imagination for the beginning of this event… tsw]
On October 17, I had the honor of joining a happy band of fellow NEGASSers at Marion Leeds Carroll's house in Arlington, for a sing-through of PRINCESS IDA. As a prelude to the main event, [Pure fiction! –tsw] Rebecca Burstein and Skyler Wrench delighted us with their lyricism and scholarly prowess by reciting their new "family-friendly" translation of Tennyson's THE PRINCESS (the poem upon which IDA was based) in the ancient, heathen language of Q'abat-kai. As Q'abat-kai has a known vocabulary of only twenty-seven words, and all of them are obscene, this did not take very long, and soon Tom Dawkins was at the piano, playing the Introduction.
The cast was as follows:
There were some delightful improvisations thrown in, most notably Isabel, as Lady Blanche, questioning the definition of "is", and Dave's very loud high notes at the end of "Whom Thou Hast Chained" (his high C was a trifle strained, though). All in all, it was a truly enjoyable afternoon. People should perform this opera more often.
I am impelled to write after reading Allen Cohen's interesting review of YEOMEN OF THE GUARD in the August Bray, [2003—to see the review in question, go to http://www.negass.org/Bray/Aug03Trumpet_Bray.html#yeo –tsw] in which he refers to YEOMEN (Note that it's Yeomen, plural!) as "G&S's famous tragedy." This is the first time I've seen it so called in print (and it's not just a hint in print!), although I've thought of it as such for many years. In fact, I give a bit of a talk entitled "THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, Gilbert-and-Sullivan's True Grand Opera," thus discounting Sullivan's grand operatic effort in IVANHOE. In it I point out that Jack Point is the only real character in the piece - a man of talent, education, and wit, who, having neither money nor birth, can only aspire to the profession of a fool.
I've often wondered if Gilbert did this on purpose. He was, after all, a rather surly curmudgeon with a bitter streak at his heart. And although in all his operas he lampoons the set professions of his time -- "the Army, the Navy, the Church, and the Stage," and, of course, the Law -- his display in YEOMEN is perhaps the bitterest of all. Why, then, in this grand-opera setting, should he have a cast of characters that outdo in shallowness even the accepted denizens of light opera? Consider Phoebe, the flibbertigibbet who can't restrain herself from revealing the plot to free Fairfax and must thus marry Wilfred, "for even brutes must marry"; Elsie, who doesn't know a good man when she sees one; Dame Carruthers, the battleaxe of the Tower; Sergeant Meryll, the military stereotype, and, worst of all, Fairfax the airhead, who must always have blonde curls and wear court regalia even when in prison. And then there's Kate. Who's Kate? Somebody the cat dragged in so that the fact that Elsie married somebody in a cell could come out. I'm amazed that Allen should even hint at the idea of Point marrying her, although of course he immediately indicates that such a denouement would ruin the whole show.
I've seen numerous productions of YEOMEN in which the director has endeavored to lend some semblance of verisimilitude to Point's dropping dead right there. After all, we have it on no less an authority than Katisha herself "that no one ever yet died of a broken heart." One attempt was a performance in which Point was portrayed as having a heart condition throughout the show, so that one was prepared for his dropping dead (in true grand-opera style) at the end. In another curious attempt, the director had the entire chorus, who were equipped with flowered lances in some sort of celebration of the Fairfax-Elsie betrothal, line up and point in unison, a la Music Hall Rockettes, at the jester's prostrate figure. A pretty silly ploy, but at least it diverted attention from the surprisingly sudden demise of the No. l character. Only once have I seen that last scene acted in a believable way, and that was years ago at a performance in New York by the old D'Oyly Carte Company which still went on tour with such greats as Darrell Fancourt and Martyn Green. Green played that finale in a manner that left no doubt that he was not just the comedian whose antics we took for granted in such roles as Ko-Ko and the Lord Chancellor but an actor of the highest order. I will never forget that performance, and the only reason why YEOMEN is not my favorite Gilbert-and-Sullivan (my actual favorites are IOLANTHE and GONDOLIERS) is that I dislike leaving the theatre in tears. Remember, after Sullivan has done his best to make a finale out of "With happiness their souls are cloyed, this is their joy day unalloyed!" there is a sudden silence as Jack Point enters, jester's regalia drooping, "food for fishes only fitted," and says, "Ye thoughtless crew, ye know not what ye do! Attend to me, and shed a tear or two. For I have a song to sing, oh ---." You know the rest, but now his trials are o'er only in death. Of course I'm in tears! It's a real grand-opera ending, perhaps finer than most, if ever there was one.
Looking for the reviews in this issue? Visit our review page.
Looking for the Calendar section, featuring local auditions and performances? Visit our Calendar page
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.
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THE NEW ENGLAND GILBERT AND SULLIVAN SOCIETY
Send electronic contributions to our e-mail address:pooh-bah at negass dot org
contact current webmaster mlc for more information