It’s been quite a few years since we last saw John Wilson conduct a piece by Gilbert and Sullivan; that was The Yeoman of the Guard at the Royal Festival Hall.

This time the short piece Trial by Jury is teamed with a selection of other pieces from the oeuvre of G&S, presented in a witty and entertaining programme on the South Bank.

Programme for Trial by Jury
Programme for Trial by Jury

Although all the guest singers were exceptional, it was especially enjoyable to hear patter king Simon Butteriss as The Learned Judge as well as sharing The Mikado‘s “little list” and regaling us of the tale from HMS Pinafore about “ruling the Queen’s navy”.

He was joined by Louise Alder, a light and colourful soprano; tenor Robert Murray (the Defendant, who started his case from within the audience, and who also sang “Is Life a Boon” from the aforementioned Yeoman); baritone Simon Bailey (Plaintiff’s Counsel and a lively devil in the first half); and baritone Michael Craddock as an amusing Usher.

John Wilson rehearsing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
John Wilson rehearsing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are a accomplished group of musicians, expert in the works of Handel, Bach and Beethoven, but having fun with the 19th century operetta on show here.

Their choir are also wonderful, incorporating six of each of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses (one of which did duty as Trial by Jury‘s foreman). Their ensemble pieces in the first half were clear and bright, and they added to the amusement once the main piece started.

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