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This is one the many parodistic passages which bears a strong resemblance to the finale of Beethoven's 'Pathetique' Sonata in the style of Mendelssohn. Gilbert's piquant social comment was reflected in several judicious updates to his libretto as in the final chorus of the Earl of Mountararat's song 'When Britain really rul'd the waves', in which the audience participated thus: 'Yes, Bright will shine Camilla's rays As in Good King Charles' glorious days'. Gareth Jones sang the role with noble poise, standing in for an indisposed Glenville Hargreaves. Together with the Earl of Tolloller, richly projected by David Llewellyn with a strong Welsh accent, and the Lord Chancellor, their Act II waltz trio was one of the evening's highlights. Both the preamble, set on a juddering tube train, and the encore, seemingly unexpected with each character half-dressed backstage, were duly comical.

The Earl of Tolloller (David Llewellyn), Lord Chancellor (Richard Suart) and The Earl of Mountararat (Glenville Hargreaves). Photo © Alastair Muir
The Earl of Tolloller (David Llewellyn), Lord Chancellor (Richard Suart) and The Earl of Mountararat (Glenville Hargreaves). Photo © Alastair Muir

The most startling and at times hilarious adaptation was to the role of the Queen of the Fairies, sung here with purity of line by the male alto Stephen Wallace. His pungent Northern dialect added additional humour, as in his recitative listing of the parliamentary bills to shock the Peers, which included banning fox hunting, but also his/her Act II love aria for Captain Shaw of the grenadier guards. The Captain responded by watering his flowers of his sentry box, and a more sympathetic guardsmen one could not have wished for.

Private Willis (Richard Angas) on duty. Photo © Alastair Muir
Private Willis (Richard Angas) on duty. Photo © Alastair Muir

The towering basso profundo Richard Angas brought a magical tenderness to his opening aria, with cleverly timed political quips and his deep bass lent warmth to the lyrical a capella friendship quartet with the two earls and Phyllis.

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Copyright © 30 July 2003 Malcolm Miller, London, UK

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