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Published: Thursday, 2/11/2010

Comedic opera offers memorable music, story

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Librettist W.S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan collaborated on 14 comic operas during England's Victorian era, many of them known for a "topsy-turvy" style that bases the action on an absurd premise.

Set to the sound of Sullivan's memorable music, Gilbert liked to skewer the social order and gently poke fun at society's rules and expectations. They were wildly popular, and their work remains so to this day.

Both the skewering and the memorable music will be on display at 8 p.m. tomorrow when the Valentine Theatre presents The Gondoliers.

Written in 1889, the opera's absurd plot features two just-married Venetian gondoliers who are informed that one of them has become the king of Barataria. The problem is, though unrelated, they were reared together as brothers, and no one is sure which is the rightful king. Only their "mother" has the answer, and she's off traveling.

The men, Marco and Giuseppe, leave their brides behind as they head off to Barataria to rule jointly until their identities can be sorted out. But there's another problem. They learn that the king, as an infant, was wed by proxy to Casilda, the infant daughter of the Duke of Plaza-Toro, making one of them a bigamist.

Casilda arrives to take her place beside a husband she's never met, but Marco and Giuseppe love the brides they left behind in Venice. And Casilda has given her heart to someone else as well.

Presented by the Los Angeles-based Opera A La Carte, the production is directed by Richard Sheldon, who also plays the Duke of Plaza-Toro. Marco is played by Craig Gilmore, Giuseppe by Eli Villanueva, and Casilda by Leilani Hyashi.

Founded in 1970 by Sheldon, Opera A La Carte presents only the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and has performed across the United States.

Tickets for "The Gondoliers" are $39, $47, and $59. Information: 419-242-2787 or valentinetheatre.com

Contact Nanciann Cherry at:

ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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