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The Mikado at Brighton 25th August!

Welcome to Opera Anywhere at B.O.A.T.

Throughout 2020 we have battled to find a way back to live performance. So, it is with the greatest pleasure that we have arrived at this moment, finally together again to experience live staged opera. Not digital, not analogue: the real thing. Thanks to a grant from the Arts Council’s COVID-19 recovery fund and OXLEP, and the ingenuity, persistence and organisation of the management team at the Brighton Open Air Theatre, we find ourselves back in business!

B.O.A.T.’s programme of late summer of outdoor theatre and music has enabled Opera Anywhere to dust down and present to a live audience its long established and ever popular productions of The Mikado and The Magic Flute.

Life for all of us has been demanding, having to adapt to continual changing circumstances and for many of us employed in the arts we have seen our opportunities to work and income depleted. So today, even with the challenges of rehearsing on ZOOM and severe weather forecast, we are absolutely delighted to be here, performing at last!

What you are seeing today is an adaptation, a rapid and joyful improvisation of one of our most loved operettas, we are all meeting face to face and rehearsing in person prior to the performance, for the first time in over 9 months, and some of us are meeting in person for the first time!

Opera Anywhere is proud of being fleet of foot and being able to perform anywhere in any circumstances, after all we started life building and performing on a stage in a pond, see this You Tube link for proof!

So, we are offering the sublime and the ridiculous, and hope that you enjoy your return to live music and theatre, we are thrilled to be here and also we are looking forward to returning again on the 13th September with our Magic Flute.

We’d love to hear from you and to be able keep in contact, do follow us on Facebook, Twitter and sign up for our newsletter from our website: www.OperaAnywhere.com

Have a great day!

Vanessa Woodward, Artistic Director

The Mikado, performed by Opera Anywhere

The Mikado has delighted audiences for more than a century opening initially at the Savoy Theatre on 14 March 1885. It ran for 672 nights and catapulted both Gilbert & Sullivan to the height of their creative geniuses.

According to Mr Adair Fitzgerald in his book ‘The Story of the Savoy Opera’, the plot of The Mikado came to Gilbert when a Japanese sword, that hung on the walls of his study, suddenly fell down.

Synopsis

Act I

Act one opens in the town of Titipu where a group of Japanese nobles are gathered in the courtyard of Ko-Ko’s palace. They are joined by Nanki-Poo, disguised as a second trombone, who is looking for Yum-Yum, the ward of Ko-Ko. A noble lord named Pish-Tush asks what Nanki-Poo’s business is with Yum-Yum, and learns that the minstrel had seen the girl a year ago when he was a member of the town band, and they had fallen in love. But Yum-Yum was betrothed to her guardian Ko-Ko, “a cheap tailor.” However on learning that Ko-Ko was condemned to death for flirting, the minstrel has hurried back to try to claim Yum-Yum. Unfortunately on his return he finds that far from being dead, Ko-Ko was reprieved at the last moment and, on being “taken from the county jail by a set of curious chances”, was raised to the exalted rank of Lord High Executioner.

But there is worse to come as Pooh-Bah, who holds every major office of state, informs NankiPoo that Yum-Yum and Ko-Ko are to be married that very day. Soon the beautiful Yum-Yum appears with her two sisters, Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo, who are also wards of Ko-Ko. Together they sing an enchanting trio “Three little maids from school are we”. Naturally Yum-Yum is delighted to see Nanki-Poo, who reveals that he is the son of the Mikado and explains that he fled in disguise from his father’s Court in order to avoid the misfortune of having to marry Katisha, an elderly lady who claimed him in marriage. Yum-Yum admits she does not love her guardian but the two lovers quickly realise that their cause is hopeless and Yum-Yum leaves Nanki-Poo who tries to kill himself.

Meanwhile, Ko-Ko has received a letter from the Mikado, who is struck by the fact that no executions have taken place in Titipu for a year and decrees that unless somebody is beheaded within a month, the post of Lord High Executioner will be abolished and the city reduced to the status of a village. Consternation reigns! But after various schemes and victims have been suggested and rejected Nanki-Poo conveniently walks in with a rope in his hands intending to hang himself to put an end to his unendurable existence now he cannot marry his adored Yum-Yum. On seeing Nanki-Poo about to end his life, Ko-Ko points out that suicide is a capital offence, and offers to do the job professionally. Nanki-Poo agrees, on the condition that he can marry Yum-Yum and enjoy one month of married life before he is beheaded.

After the execution, Ko-Ko will then be able to marry the widowed Yum-Yum. The celebrations begin, however in storms Katisha, having tracked down the object of her affections, Nanki-Poo, and threatens to reveal his true identity. She is outshouted by a chorus of Japanese syllables: “ O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!” (one of the many possible translations of which is “So surprised, we hiccup! Bah!”). But the town dwellers are not to be deterred and “joy reigns everywhere around.” The act closes as Katisha, threatening to wreak vengeance on all who have thwarted her, storms angrily through the crowd on her way to inform the Mikado that his son has been found.

Nanki-Poo conveniently walks in with a rope in his hands intending to hang himself to put an end to his unendurable existence now he cannot marry his adored Yum-Yum. On seeing Nanki-Poo about to end his life, Ko-Ko points out that suicide is a capital offence, and offers to do the job professionally. Nanki-Poo agrees, on the condition that he can marry Yum-Yum and enjoy one month of married life before he is beheaded. After the execution, Ko-Ko will then be able to marry the widowed Yum-Yum. The celebrations begin, however in storms Katisha, having tracked down the object of her affections, Nanki-Poo, and threatens to reveal his true identity. She is outshouted by a chorus of Japanese syllables: “ O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!” (one of the many possible translations of which is “So surprised, we hiccup! Bah!”). But the town dwellers are not to be deterred and “joy reigns everywhere around.” The act closes as Katisha, threatening to wreak vengeance on all who have thwarted her, storms angrily through the crowd on her way to inform the Mikado that his son has been found.

Act II

Act two opens with Yum-Yum being prepared for her wedding. After pointing out to her friends, in her artless Japanese way, how much more attractive she is than anybody else in the whole world, Yum-Yum is joined by Nanki-Poo and they discuss how best to enjoy themselves during the short time of their intended marriage.

Ko-Ko enters however and informs them that he himself cannot marry Yum-Yum after all. Their sudden joy at this announcement is soon dispelled when he tells them that he has just learned that by the Mikado’s law, when a married man is beheaded his wife is buried alive. This alters the position completely for poor Yum-Yum who, not unnaturally, has no desire to go through with her marriage to Nanki-Poo if at the end of the month she has to suffer such an ill fate. Nanki-Poo is also in a dilemma. If he holds Yum-Yum to this marriage, she dies a hideous death, and if he releases her she must marry Ko-Ko at once. The marriage is off, and Nanki-Poo determines to do away with himself that afternoon unless Ko-Ko will kill him at once. But it turns out that Ko-Ko can’t kill anything. To make matters worse, the Mikado and his suite are approaching the town and will arrive in ten minutes. In desperation Ko-Ko arranges to draw up an affidavit of Nanki-Poo’s execution. Yum-Yum is sent for and, to her amazement, is told to go away with Nanki-Poo and get married while the others prepare to receive and, if possible, hoodwink the Mikado with a lurid description of an imaginary execution.

The Mikado, a rather terrifying figure, arrives with Katisha who makes much of being his daughter-in-law elect. When Ko-Ko presents his certificate of execution, The Mikado reads it and says, “My poor fellow, in your anxiety to carry out my wishes you have beheaded the heir to the throne of Japan!” Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah find Nanki-Poo and beg him to present himself, alive, to his father, thereby absolving them of his death. But Nanki-Poo, now married to Yum-Yum, is afraid of Katisha’s wrath. Unless Ko-Ko will agree to marry the old hag himself, he and YumYum will leave on their honeymoon at once. Ko-Ko is appalled at the suggestion but realizes that it is the only way to save himself and his friends from the “boiling oil” episode that is awaiting them.

Katisha, meanwhile, is mourning the death of Nanki-Poo, and when Ko-Ko tries to woo her, she is at first reluctant, but he wins the formidable lady with a pack of flattering lies and a sad, lovelorn song. When the Mikado returns from lunch he is surprised to learn that Katisha has already married Ko-Ko, and when Nanki-Poo walks on with Yum-Yum the Mikado gladly accedes to their prayers for mercy. Although Katisha feels that she has been deceived as Nanki-Poo escaped her matrimonial wiles, she consoles herself with being the wife of the Lord High Executioner and all ends happily.

Cast:

THE MIKADO OF JAPAN – Sam Young

NANKI-POO (his Son) Tristan Stocks

KO-KO (Lord High Executioner of Titipu) – Mike Woodward

POOH BAH (Lord High Everything Else) – William Stevens

KATISHA (an elderly Lady) – Vanessa Woodward

PISH-TUSH (a Noble Lord) – Dale Harris

GO-TO – Joe Partridge

Wards of Ko-Ko:

YUM-YUM – Nadia Eide

PITTI-SING –Olivia Bell

PEEP-BO – Catrin Lewis

PING-PONG – Hannah Ambrose

PONG-PING – Madeleine McConnell Smith

Stage Director – Tristan Stocks

Band:

Pianist & Music Director- Nia Williams

Flute, Clarinet & music arrangements – Nick Planas

Technical Director / Lighting Design – John Alcock

Stage & Production Manager – Mike Woodward

Costumes – Vanessa Woodward

The Company

John Alcock – Technical Director

John’s interest in stage lighting has developed alongside his career working for a multi-national technology company. His involvement in lighting contemporary music led to meeting Vanessa and Mike Woodward, a friendship that was rekindled years later when Mike rang to ask a favour for one show. The rest is history and John has worked with Opera Anywhere as lighting designer and technician since the company started. He particularly relishes the challenges presented by the ‘Anywhere’ aspect of our performances and enjoys the new possibilities afforded by some of the latest low-energy theatrical lights. John became a trustee and company director of Opera Anywhere in 2012. He still continues to work with contemporary groups ‘As If’ and ‘Back Four’, and in 2016 lit the stage for the Emfest Festival, an event headlined by the indie pop rock band Scouting for Girls.

Hannah Ambrose – Ping Pong: https://hannahambrosesoprano.wixsite.com/home

Olivia Bell – Pitti Sing: www.oliviabellsoprano.com

Nadia Eide – Yum-Yum: https://nadiaeide.com/

Dale Harris – Pish Tush:

A graduate from Birmingham Conservatoire, Dale is now working as a Freelance Musician. Studying under Tenor, Justin Lavender at Music College, Dale was a Choral Scholar at the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus. Shortly after graduating Dale found work as a singer, including runs at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2012 and 2015, participation in the Philharmonia Chorus Professional Singers Scheme, singing as a soloist and chorally with the Armonico Consort and as a 1st Tenor with the popular Chamber Choir Blossom Street, holding high acclaim with Classic FM and winning Christmas CD of the year in 2015. As a soloist, Dale sings regularly in Opera performing many roles, including Gaston in Verdi’s La Traviata, Malcolm in Verdi’s Macbeth and Pong in Puccini’s Turandot. Dale has also toured with the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company. Last year Dale made his debut in Paris, performing Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio. Dale has been a regular part of Opera Anywhere’s team in the last few years, as Monostatos in The Magic Flute and as part of the company’s Singing Waiters team.

Catrin Lewis – Peep-Bo:  www.catrinlewis.com

Madeleine McConnell Smith – Pong-Ping: Online Biog

Jo Partidge – Go To: joe.partridge@live.co.uk

Nick Planas – Flute, Clarinet and Music Arranger: www.nickplanas.co.uk

William Stevens – Pooh Bah:

“William Stevens is a singer and conductor.  He graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he studied singing with Donald Maxwell and Michael Pollock.  He has also sung in masterclasses with Sir John Tomlinson, Dame Ann Murray and Robert Holl.  His repertoire on stage varies from the dramatic with roles such as Fasolt Das Rheingold, Olin Blitch Susannah, Nick Shadow The Rake’s Progress and the title role in Sweeney Todd to the comedic with roles like Don Magnifico La Cenerentola, Superintendent Budd Albert Herring, Don Alfonso Cosi fan tutte, and Bartolo and Antonio Le nozze di Figaro with companies including Welsh National Opera, Longborough Festival Opera and Tarnhelm Opera.  His Gilbert and Sullivan credits include Pooh-Bah The Mikado, Pirate King The Pirates of Penzance, Sir Joseph Porter HMS Pinafore, Robin Oakapple Ruddigore and The Learned Judge Trial by Jury.  An experienced choral singer, he is a member of Llandaff Cathedral Choir and an alumnus of Genesis Sixteen.  As a conductor he has worked with a number of ensembles and conducted productions of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Sullivan’s Patience, The Mikado and Iolanthe as well as performances of major choral works by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Fauré and Pärt.  With his company, Cardiff Opera, he is currently working on a concert performance of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito for 2021.”

Tristan Stocks – Nanki-Poo: www.tristanstocks.com

Vanessa Woodward – Katisha

Vanessa originally studied music at Colchester Institute and later gained an advanced postgraduate diploma (voice) from Trinity College of Music, where she was awarded the Wilfred Greenhouse prize for Oratorio and Cantata. Vanessa studies singing with Quentin Hayes. Vanessa’s early professional career was as a singer/guitarist in rock and folk bands. She ‘crossed over’ and has resumed her classical singing career. She is experienced as an oratorio soloist and also enjoys Lieder and 20th century British Song. With Opera Anywhere, Vanessa has performed in some unusual situations, including performing ‘soap opera scenes’ on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ programme! On the operatic stage Vanessa has performed the roles of Nireno in Handel Giulio Cesare for the Handel Opera Company, the Princess in Puccini Suor Angelica and Popova in The Bear by Walton, which included an appearance on Sean Rafferty’s In Tune programme on BBC Radio 3, Baba in Menotti’s The Medium, Miss Baggot in Britten’s The Little Sweep, Miss Todd in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, 3rd lady/3rd boy in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Vanessa is also co-founder and director of Opera Anywhere.

Mike Woodward – Ko-Ko

Mike studies singing with Quentin Hayes, is general manager of Opera Anywhere but also provides tour and production management services to other opera companies including Barefoot Opera. In addition to Mike’s organisational responsibilities, he loves performing in song concerts, oratorios and operas. Mike’s operatic roles include Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors’ (Menotti); Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi (Puccini), Camille in The Merry Widow (Lehar) and is currently performing the Gilbert & Sullivan ‘patter’ roles in the Opera Anywhere festival tour. Mike regularly performs popular tenor repertoire in various corporate and private performances, and particularly enjoys the ‘Singing Waiters’ type events that Opera Anywhere gets invited to. Mike created Arias On Ice and performed Nessun Dorma on live TV on ice skates alongside the English tenor, Alfie Boe as part of a Channel 4 documentary about Opera Anywhere. Mike has also appeared on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ performing soap opera scenes in operatic style!

Nia Williams – Music Director / Pianist www.niawilliams.com

Sam Young – The Mikado: www.samyoungbaritone.com

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