A happy birthday to the Charles Court Opera, which celebrates ten years with a cracking production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore. I confess to being a fan of G & S and, while this work is not their best, this excellent company glosses over this. And anyway, Ruddigore has enough silliness, with plenty of tongue-tying lyrics and improbable plots, as well as enough sweet tunes, to still sparkle.
This is a standard G & S story of smart maidens and unusual heroes, full of topsy-turvy and pleasing satire. A witch’s curse on the house of Ruddigore means its baron has to commit a crime everyday. No one is happy about the legacy. The heirs try to abscond, fiancées are driven mad and the local village bridesmaids have a tough time celebrating hymen.
Though the production is a faithful one, director John Savournin is suitably strict, so proceedings are snappy. The musical adaption by David Eaton, who performs on the piano, is admirably sprightly. James Perkins’ design brings a nice touch of the pier postcard to proceedings, while silly supernatural antics from the Ruddigore ancestors enhance the levity.
Best of all are the first-class performances on offer. Matthew Kellett and Savournin both sound great as as the brothers who battle over a baronetcy – whether in hiding, committing crimes or repenting misdeeds – and Savournin steals a couple of scenes with great comic panache. Rebecca Moon plays the virginal Rose with a beautiful voice, while as bridesmaids desperate to fulfil their duties, Susanna Buckle and Andrea Tweedale give astounding value, standing in for a large chorus. A cast this strong means fans and newcomers, both to G & S and this work, are guaranteed to leave happy.
Until 14 March 2015
Photos by Bill Knight