October 31st, 2020

‘The Gondoliers’ a three-group collaboration


By Bobinec, Greg on January 29, 2020.

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

A collaboration between the University of Lethbridge Opera Workshop, Lethbridge Symphony and Vox Musica community choir is ready to take the stage this weekend with a classic tale from Gilbert & Sullivan.

“The Gondoliers” is a two-hour live production that follows the story of two gondoliers and their wives, as they discover one of the men is actually the king of a distant country.

“‘The Gondoliers’ by Gilbert & Sullivan, it’s a piece that was written 125 years ago,” says Blaine Hendsbee, director of U of L Opera Workshop. “The surface level of the story is about two gondoliers living in Venice that are in love and married to two peasant girls, and their happy-ever-after life plans are turned upside-down, when a noble family from Spain comes and declares one of them is actually a king of a distant country who in babyhood was married to their daughter.”

The production by Gilbert & Sullivan was not only chosen because of structure, needing a symphony and powerful voices, but also for its large cast of prominent characters, and the opportunity to push the opera workshop students in their craft.

“I love the Gilbert & Sullivan operas because they are written for a real full symphonic orchestra which we have, that is conducted by Glenn Klassen with the Lethbridge Symphony, and this is a co-production that we have been doing for about 10 years now,” says Hendsbee. “It was intended to not be sung with microphones and amplification because they didn’t exist, so it is good operatic training for the students and singers and the luxury for them to sing with a real orchestra is an amazing thing.”

Gilbert & Sullivan are not only known for producing light-hearted and entertaining shows that are mixed with deep and compelling music, but also touch on political issues and viewpoints, which is discovered through “The Gondoliers” as the main characters go through changes in their opinions about the monarch.

“When people come to a Gilbert & Sullivan production, they leave feeling better than they did when they came in. It is fun and they laugh, and it is not too deep or too heavy, it’s just lovely and fun,” says Hendsbee. “On a bigger political level, because Gilbert & Sullivan always had a base-level-relatable story and then a more politically infused story, it was about Venice as a republic, so they don’t believe in hereditary monarchy, and so it is a commentary of the pros and cons of being a monarch, from the perspective of people not a part of the monarchy and also when you become the monarch your opinion changes.”

“The Gondoliers” will have shows on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Southminster United Church. Tickets range from $25-$75 and are available anytime at LethbridgeSymphony.org, or by calling 403-328-6808.

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