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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an option to go to Mikado (live), but I try to view it on youtube before, and I am a bit confused. I like the speaking part (as a comedy), but the music is so and so, at least for my taste. What I mean it is more close to a musical than an opera. At least Wikipedia says it's an opera, maybe it would be better considered operetta.
It's my first time listening to any Gilbert and Sullivan opera, and I am a bit disappointed.
Should I approach it differently?

This is what I am watching right now:

 

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It's just an absurd satire with funny characters, catchy tunes and clever lyrics. Read a bit about Gilbert and Sullivan, what they were trying to do, and the time and place they were writing for. Then drop any expectations, pretend you're Queen Victoria, see it, and don't worry about what to call it.

I'd call it operetta, by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
After Mikado I clicked on Stauss' Die Fledemause, and though still an operetta I loved it, not only because it is so wonderful, from the overture to the final aria, but the big difference is that while Die Fledermause is sung by opera singers, The Mikado is sung by good musical singers, with no technique for opera. Are there 2 types of operettas? One similar to opera only lighter, and the other one, more close to a musical? I am no newbie to operetta, but I don't have enough experience either.
 

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It's an operetta. I tend to think of the operetta as a sub-genre of the "opera" category, so I consider the Mikado to be both.

I have this recording with Charles Mackerras. It's cleverly voiced, well-sung, and actually quite comical:

Cartoon Organism Font Art Poster
 

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After Mikado I clicked on Stauss' Die Fledemause, and though still an operetta I loved it, not only because it is so wonderful, from the overture to the final aria, but the big difference is that while Die Fledermause is sung by opera singers, The Mikado is sung by good musical singers, with no technique for opera. Are there 2 types of operettas? One similar to opera only lighter, and the other one, more close to a musical? I am no newbie to operetta, but I don't have enough experience either.
I wouldn't neccessarily say that there are two specific sub-types so much as there is a variety within the umbrella of operetta, as there is within opera, or within musical, or any other genre. You may want to check out the Merry Widow as well, that is lovely music. I have just recently been exploring operetta myself. G&S hasn't piqued my interest yet (maybe I like not understanding what they're singing! lol) I've been looking into Lehar, Kalman, etc.

"My Heart Alone" is a Simon Keenlyside album with operetta pieces on it. I just bought it and it's quite enjoyable.
 

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Sullivan was not a great composer but he could certainly write a good tune. And in Gilbert he had the perfect librettist for his talents. One thing that makes the operettas popular is that they can be performed adequately by even a modest amateur group and are great fun to do. So enjoy!
 

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I guess that G+S was never for me. Once you strip away the voice, you're left with music that wouldn't be out of place being played on an organ grinder (complete with monkey, of course :D). Do the same with opera and the music still emotes. It doesn't need the libretto.
 

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I love G&S and am not so quick to diss Sullivan as a Composer as seems to be the fashion these days. True he's no Wagner or Verdi but...

For a start he worked up the tunes after the words were written, and his crusty partner was a stickler that the words should all be audible. They weren't trying to break the boundaries of the art, more often parodying the existing forms.

Just imagine being presented with this written down on paper and having to find a tune to sit under (thanks Julie Styne) these words.


(There was a fine film made by these players but sadly it's not avaible on Youtube.)

I love the musical pastiches they carried out and I also believe that there are places where his music is truly memorable and affecting. A quick search found this - ignore the visuals they are hackneyed and distracting.


Also please reflect on how we tend to undervalue 'Comic' in the performing arts. Think of the films you've most enjoyed and are personal favourites and I bet a good no are comedies. Then make a list of the 'best' films or plays you've seen and I bet you go for the serious stuff. Next reflect on how many dramas turn out fine and also how many comedies fall flat. Comics know, just ask Pagliachi, it's not easy to produce delightful light entertainment. Gilbert and Sullivan left us with treasures and their influence on the musical theatre is unparalleled.

A minor composer perhaps, but one I'm delighted to know.

Can't resist adding

Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain.

Doctor replies, "Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up."

Man bursts into tears. "But doctor...I am Pagliacci."
 

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Anybody who enjoys G&S can do no better than go to Harrogate this August for the 22nd International Gilbert and Sullivan festival. We've been a few times. Last year was its first in Harrogate and they're trying to make it even better this year. A mixture of amateur and professional productions, revues in the evening, talks in the daytime.
 
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