Opera Scotland

Gilbert and Sullivan For All 1966Robert Meadmore

Read more about the opera Gilbert and Sullivan For All

From the mid-sixties a form of touring Concert Party was set up under the umbrella of the producer Robert Meadmore and singers Thomas Round and Donald Adams. The latter two had been leading members of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company on and off since the forties and were familiar from many recordings. These concerts were intended to take excerpts familiar and less so from the G & S repertoire to parts of the country (indeed the world) that no longer had theatres suitable for performances by the main company.

August was not a month when the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company would expect to be touring, so the principals were available for these additional activities. On this occasion in Dundee's vast and acoustically admirable Caird Hall a chorus under the direction of a local conductor, Gordon Mabbott, was also  assembled from the cream of the local amateur musical societies to provide backing. They were already reasonably familiar with the music from their own performances over the years.

The two unfamiliar solos were from The Sorcerer and Utopia Limited, neither of which featured in the professional repertoire at the time. However Thomas Round had recently recorded extracts from the almost unknown Utopia Limited, and a complete recording of The Sorcerer was in preparation, featuring Valerie Masterson as Aline, a welcome prelude to the opening of a new staging a few years later.

The following morning's Courier and Advertiser (Friday, 19 August) was highly enthusiastic:

            ''The ovation by almost 2000 in the Caird Hall, Dundee, last night for those wandering minstrels, Norman Meadmore’s Gilbert and Sullivan For All troupe, was anything but “a thing of shreds and patches.”  As a celebratory entertainment, with everyone in gala mood, the show was a big success.  From an artistic point of view it was a richly satisfying pot-pourri of G & S in a concert presentation.

            ''This was the third time in the last 20 months that this type of production has proved that in Dundee there is a ready audience for the evergreen Savoy melodies.  The professional artists were Valerie Masterson (soprano), Gillian Knight (contralto), Thomas Round (tenor), and Donald Adams (bass) with William Cox-Ife at the piano.  Not only was their singing captivatingly defined and polished, but they suited actions to the words, and Messrs Round and Adams interspersed the programme with humour.

            ''Dundee and district operatic, musical and choral societies provided a colourful chorus of 120 voices. It was heard to full advantage in the encore “Hail Poetry!” (Pirates of Penzance), which never fails to take a trick.  The conductor for this was the chorus musical director, Gordon Mabbott, whose imminent departure from Dundee is a severe blow to the city’s musical interests.

            ''For the rest there was pleasure unbounding in Miss Masterson’s “Poor Wandering One” (Pirates), Miss Knight’s “Silvered is the Raven Hair” (Patience), Mr Round’s pièce de résistance “Take a pair of sparkling eyes” (Gondoliers) and Mr Adams’ tremendous Mikado’s Song with histrionics!”

The programme included the following solos and ensembles (all by Sullivan):

Poor wandering one The Pirates of Penzance (VM).

Paradox Trio The Pirates of Penzance (GK, TR, DA).

O happy young heart The Sorcerer (VM).

Silvered is the raven hair Patience (GK).

The Ghost’s High Noon Ruddigore (DA).

A tenor all singers above Utopia Limited (TR).

A more humane Mikado The Mikado (DA).

Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted The Mikado (VM, TR).

Then one of us will be a Queen The Gondoliers (VM, GK, TR, DA).

Take a pair of sparkling eyes The Gondoliers (TR).

Hail Poetry! The Pirates of Penzance (encore).

Performance DatesGilbert and Sullivan For All 1966

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Caird Hall | Dundee

18 Aug, 19.30

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