Thursday, 29 March 2018

Jolly good show! - Charles Court Opera's The Mikado

The Mikado - Charles Court Opera - Matthew Siveter (Katisha) (Photo Bill Knight)
The Mikado - Charles Court Opera - Matthew Siveter (Katisha)
(Photo Bill Knight)
Gilbert & Sullivan The Mikado; Matthew Palmer, Jack Roberts, Philip Lee, Matthew Kellett, Alys Roberts, Charles Court Opera, John Savournin, David Eaton; King's Head Theatre
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on 27 Mar 2018
Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)

Charles Court Opera has another feather in it’s cap so never mind the why and wherefore, get yourself down to the King’s Head tra la la la la

Gilbert and Sullivan’s evergreen satire on British political institutions is given a fresh lick of paint in Charles Court Opera’s new production of The Mikado at the King’s Head Theatre (seen 27 March 2018) in John Savournin’s modest but handsome staging with sets and costumes by Rachel Szmukler, under musical director David Eaton.

The experienced cast of fruity voiced Titipudlians are lead by Philip Lee as Lord High Executioner. A clutch of Matthews: Palmer, Kellett and Siveter appear as The Mikado, Pooh-Bah and Katisha. Jack Roberts goes a-minstrelling and Alys Roberts, Jessica Temple and Corinne Cowling are the irrepressible wards of Ko-Ko and just so we don’t feel short changed members of the cast are called upon to do some peripatetic choral duties.

Charles Court Opera - The Mikado - Matthew Palmer (Pish-Tush) Matthew Kellett (Pooh-Bah) Philip Lee (Ko-Ko) Photo Bill Knight
Matthew Palmer (Pish-Tush) Matthew Kellett (Pooh-Bah) Philip Lee (Ko-Ko)
Photo Bill Knight
Under David Eaton’s direction music and text are both crisp and precise with moments of real beauty. The ensembles stood out in particular and I wondered whether huddled away in the corner behind his piano he was communicating telepathically.

John Savournin’s breathless staging is set in Titipu’s British Consulate, here colonized by gentlemen “in Japan”. I chose not to dwell on the logic of it all, and besides which, what sets this production above the many unremarkable Mikados I’ve witnessed in the past is it’s sheer exuberance. Occasionally the frenetic pace bulldozes some of the funnier lines but that can easily be sharpened up. And, to be fair, it’s not short on laughs – quite a titter fest in fact.

From Philip Lee’s Ko-Ko, more Lord High Entertainer than jumped up tailor, taking the customary pot-shots at the current list of irritating political and cultural delinquencies, via a lovely comic turn from Matthew Kellett as the unctuous Pooh-Bah to Alys Roberts beautifully poised ‘The sun whose rays are all ablaze’ and the irresistible and effervescent antics of the little maids Jessica Temple and Corinne Cowling the operetta express simply rattles along. Even the affected coyness of Nanki-Poo doesn’t seem half so irritating in the hands of Jack Roberts. The wittiest conceit of the evening though is the six foot orotund vocals of Matthew Siveter as a more than usually frightening Katisha.

Charles Court Opera has another feather in it’s cap so never mind the why and wherefore, get yourself down to the King’s Head tra la la la la, tra la la la la.
Reviewed by Anthony Evans

Alys Roberts (Yum-Yum) Jessica Temple (Pitti-Sing) Corinne Cowling (Peep-Bo) Photo Bill Knight
Alys Roberts (Yum-Yum) Jessica Temple (Pitti-Sing) Corinne Cowling (Peep-Bo)
Photo Bill Knight
The Mikado - Charles Court Opera
King’s Head Theatre
Tuesday 27 March 2018
Matthew Palmer : The Mikado / Pish-Tush
Jack Roberts : Nanki-Poo
Philip Lee : Ko-Ko
Matthew Kellett : Pooh-Bah
Alys Roberts : Yum-Yum
Jessica Temple : Petti-Sing
Corinne Cowling : Peep-Bo
Matthew Siveter : Katisha
Director : John Savournin
Music Director : David Eaton

Elsewhere on this blog:
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  • Fire and water: Ji Liu  (★★★) - CD review
  • En Francais: Verdi's original Don Carlos in Lyon (★★★★) - Opera review
  • Electronic opera: Roger Doyle's Heresy (★★★) - CD review
  • Moving, thoughtful, thought-provoking - Christoph Prégardien, Julia Kleiter and Julius Drake at Temple Song (★★★★★)  - concert review
  • Exploring her heritage: Rebeca Omordia introduces the Nigerian art music which features on her new CD - Interview
  • Real discoveries: the songs of Nikolai Medtner (★★★★) - CD review
  • The Gluepot Connection - 20th century British composers linked by their watering-hole - CD review
  • A sense of intelligent conversation: John Jenkins complete four-part consort music (★★★★★) - CD review
  • Taking wing: Royal Academy Opera's Flight launches the new theatre - opera review
  • The lure of the East: Soraya Mafi's debut recital at the Wigmore Hall (★★★★)  - concert review
  • Rakastava: the music of Sibelius from Chamber Domaine  (★★★½) - CD review
  • Tradition and innovation: I chat to Hugo Ticciati, violinist and artistic director of O/Modernt - interview
  • Daniel Kramer's new production of Verdi's La traviata at ENO (★★★)  - Opera review
  • Ceremonial Oxford: music for the Georgian university by William Hayes  (★★★½) - CD review
  • Multi-faceted diva: Bampton Classical Opera's Songs for Nancy (★★★½) - Concert review
  • Home

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