Fairies, politics and scandal - it’s the best of British says Martin

Martin Yates had to take a short break from his role as Musical Director of Dore Gilbert and Sullivan Society recently to undergo a small surgical procedure.
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But even as he was wheeled in for surgery, he was accompanied by the overture to Gilbert and Sullivan classic Iolanthe, which just happens to be Dore’s next show.

“They asked me what music I wanted to hear so it seemed like the perfect choice,” Martin laughs.

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Iolanthe - a high-flying blend of political satire and fairytale romance - is being presented in a semi-staged concert version at Crookes Social Club on April 7, with further performances at Dore Community Centre on April 13 and at Whittington Moor Methodist Church on April 20.

Ian Stewart and Carolyn Bean head the cast of IolantheIan Stewart and Carolyn Bean head the cast of Iolanthe
Ian Stewart and Carolyn Bean head the cast of Iolanthe

And for Martin, the production offers an opportunity to be completely immersed in the sounds of one of the greatest pieces in the Victorian theatrical repertoire.

“Iolanthe is one of Arthur Sullivan’s masterpiece scores and one that has so much to offer,” he says.

“There are the fairy scenes, which are very much in the style of Mendelssohn, which is right down Sullivan’s street.

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“But then you have the other side to his personality with the March of the Peers and all the pomp and circumstance of England before Elgar got there, an absolutely major piece of writing for men’s voices without a doubt, right up there with Land of Hope and Glory.”

For anybody who believes that a piece so rooted in the glory of Victorian England must now seem dated, though, Martin points of that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Broadway hit Hamilton, actually cites Gilbert and Sullivan as a major influence.

“I think what he probably recognised was how Sullivan used Gilbert’s words, the way he used the music to make the words shine,” he says.

“He was able to set the English language exactly, he gets the best out of the words that Gilbert supplied.”

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And it is that combination of a very English sound and a respect for the English language that, Martin feels, should prevent Gilbert and Sullivan ever being referred to as operetta.

“If you say operetta you immediately think of something on a different level to opera, something perhaps by Offenbach or Von Suppé - wonderful pieces of work but also very French.

“Gilbert and Sullivan never ever called their works operettas - to them they were always operas.

“It’s a great English style and sound and Sullivan really should be discussed in the same way as Benjamin Britten.”

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To book tickets for Dore Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s Iolanthe at any of the three venues of the Iolanthe mini tour visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/dore-gilbert-sullivan-society/iolanthe/e-jdvozm or call 07565 805405.