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An evening of the best of Gilbert and Sullivan

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

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“How many creators are instantly recognised by their initials alone?” asks Stuart Maunder AM of the great Victorian musical partnership between librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan. “Our love affair with G&S is as enduring as the works themselves.”

Maunder, Artistic Director of the State Opera of South Australia and a self-confessed G&S ‘tragic’, guest directs WAAPA’s Classical Voice students in From Marathon to Waterloo, in Order Categorical, a celebration of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most beloved songs from Friday, 16 to Thursday, 22 November in the Roundhouse Theatre.

Under Maunder’s direction and with musical direction by WAAPA’s Head of Music, Stewart Smith, the Classical Voice students will showcase G&S comic opera gems from The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore and The Gondoliers.

Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated on 14 comic operas between 1871 and 1896. Known as the ‘Savoy operas’ after the London theatre in which they were performed, they are some of the world's best-loved musical works, delighting audiences with their topsy-turvy logic, memorable melodies and witty wordplay.

“Sullivan’s music succeeds in providing a kind of romantic foil to Gilbert’s pervasive drollery and cynicism,” says Maunder, who has been directing opera and musicals for the last 30 years. “What a perfect marriage: complimentary and yet challenging, informing, never negating each other.”

Maunder describes how the first encounter with Gilbert and Sullivan in the theatre is an iconic experience for generations of Australians.

“I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve told me ‘My aunt took me to see Pinafore or Pirates or The Gondoliers when I was eight...’ and how that got them hooked on G&S,” he says.

“And, of course, these shows can speak very successfully to young people: the characters are all slightly ridiculous, they say outrageous things, people dance about for no reason and there is usually a happy ending.”

Prior to his recent appointment at State Opera SA, Maunder spent four years as General Director of New Zealand Opera, and has enjoyed a long association with Opera Australia. His significant achievements in the field of opera were recognised in 2012 when he was made a Member of the Order of Australia.

Now Maunder brings his wealth of experience to WAAPA to celebrate the genius of a musical partnership that has directly influenced the development of musical theatre through the 20th century.

“What other body of work, what other collection of 14 operas reveals such riches, all of a type, a family, yet all different, thrilling, witty, satiric, gossamer thin and with real heart.”

Don’t miss this chocolate-box of an entertainment, full of bite-sized delights from one of the most enduring musical partnerships of all time.

For all venue and performance details, please visit the From Marathon to Waterloo, in Order Categorical performance web page.

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