Falling in Love with Gilbert & Sullivan: Topsy Turvy, The Mikado John Frey
Thursdays, May 4 & 11, 2023 1pm - 4pm
Two Session Course
Odd Fellows Hall, SLO
$10 for LLCC Members $20 for Others
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In these two 2.5-hour presentations you will view: a British movie of Topsy Turvy, about the making of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular opera - The Mikado; and in the second session you will watch a film of The Mikado or, The Town of Titipu, a comic opera in two acts,.
This course will appeal to persons who have never experienced opera, but wish to learn what it is all about, as well as seasoned opera goers who want to deepen their understanding of the creation of an opera performance.
Topsy-Turvy is a 1999 film which focuses on the conflict between Gilbert and Sullivan about the creation of The Mikado in 1884 and 1885. The impasse is resolved after Gilbert visits a popular exhibition of Japanese arts and crafts in London and is inspired to write a libretto set in exotic Japan. Sullivan likes the idea and agrees to compose the music for it.
Topsy-Turvy depicts how rehearsing and putting on a comic opera takes over everyone's life. It is an opulently mounted, warm-hearted celebration of two great artists and of a dedicated group of actors, backstage personnel and front-of-house figures working together. It received very favorable reviews, including several film festival awards and two Academy Awards. Jim Broadbent’s portrayal of Gilbert won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 56th Venice International Film Festival.
The Mikado or, The Town of Titipuopened on March 14, 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theater piece up to that time. Setting the opera in Japan allowed Gilbert to satirize British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. It afforded scope for picturesque treatment, scenery and costume. Gilbert created a fanciful "topsy-turvy" world for this opera, where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion - where flirting is a capital offence. Sullivan composed the music, contributing memorable melodies that convey both humor and passion.
Each session includes a 30-minute commentary and discussion as well as a 2-1/2-hour video showing. You will listen to some of G&S’s most famous lyrics, melodies and patter songs including "Three little maids from school are we," "The sun whose rays are all ablaze" and "The flowers that bloom in the spring." Course handouts include an analysis of each video as well as a description of its story and characters. A list of recommended CDs, DVDs and books is provided.
The course uses a DVD of the complete movies and a 11-page syllabus including biographies, production, sources, commentary, analysis and synopsis.
John Frey taught chemistry and engaged in chemical research for 45 years at several universities and is now retired. He serves on the Board of Directors of OperaSLO, the Lifelong Learners of the Central Coast and is a member of the Rotary Club. He teaches courses on classic movies, opera and musical theater for LLCC and OperaSLO. He has had over 7 decades of singing experience with various choral groups and has performed in the choruses of of the SLO Master Chorale and OperaSLO.