Gilbert and Sullivan classic opens Saturday

July 08, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Lend a tenor, a few soprano and baritone voices to J. Ernest Green, and he'll transform them into a big, beautiful choral sound.

He has been doing that with the Annapolis Chorale since coming to direct it in 1985. What was then a 70-voice chorale is now 145 voices, performing Renaissance to contemporary music during its regular season, and pop classics at its summer outdoor concerts.

And he has been doing that with Baltimore's Young Victorian Theatre Company since 1985, when he became music director of the operetta company, which specializes in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Green is not the only export from Anne Arundel to the Young Vic: About one-fourth of its 30-member chorus is from the county, five of whom are also Chorale members.

An excellent chance to experience Green's cross-county cross-cultural work comes Saturday when the Young Vic opens its run of "The Gondoliers." Green, in addition to being music director, conducts the 23-piece orchestra in this last, great Gilbert and Sullivan triumph.

"The Gondoliers" was the 11th in a series of highly successful operettas written by the two men for impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte. The comic operetta contains some of Arthur Sullivan's finest music, described as having elements of Mozart and Verdi as well as Mediterranean tarantellas and fandangos. It was an antidote for Sullivan, who often felt frustrated merely supplying tunes to enhance William Gilbert's witty dialogue and fanciful plots. On Gilbert's part, he had wanted to write real opera about real people.

"The Gondoliers," a classic that combines elements of romance, intrigue, mistaken identity and irony, is the tale of two gondoliers who learn that one may be a prince.

The artistic director of the Young Vic, in its 29th season, is Roger Brunyate of Peabody Opera Theater. Drawn principally from Peabody, leading members of the cast include: Elizabeth Davis as Gianetta; Jennifer Blades as Tessa; Jason Henrich as Marco; Brendan Cooke as Giuseppe; Harry Turner as the Duke of the Plaza Toro; Anna Tucker Loomis as the Duchess of Plaza Toro; Erika Juengst as Casilda; Phillip Juengst as Lutz; and Jason Hardy as Don Alhambra Del Bolero.

"The Gondoliers" opens Saturday at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore's Roland Park neighborhood. Performances are at 8: 15 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday; 8: 15 p.m. on July 15, 16 and 17; at 3 p.m. July 18. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for children age 12 and younger. Call 410-323-3077 for information and tickets.

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