GILBERT AND SULLIVAN OPERA : A new assessment, by
Audrey Williamson (Rockliff, 25s.).
NO musical or theatrical territory has been more closely guarded than the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Probably those first shocks administered by the United States when the first successes were pirated there were responsible.
The law of cops right has protected the operas ever since. Even though the copyright of Sullivan's music expired in 1950, that of Gilbert's lyrics will not lapse until 1961. But the D'Oyley Carte monopoly will still hold good until that time because the music and lyrics cannot be divorced.
Audrey Williamson, who has written her book especially for performers and producers, thinks that when the full copyright does expire the operas will have a wider audience than ever. Obviously the difficulty ot translating Gilbert's lyrics has always constituted a stumbling block to produet'on in foreign countries. On tha other hand. Sullivan's music has a universal appeal. provided his scores get something better than the musical comedy treatment.
There is no reason, she adds, apart from musical snobbery and copyright restrictions. why Sullivan's operas should not take their place alongside Rossinrs "Barber of Seville," Donizetti's "Don Pasquale.** Straus's "Die Fledermaus" and similar operas in a grand opera company's repertoire.
The author has taken each opera chronologically and examined it with reference to score, production, acting, scenery, settings and interpretation.
Well illustrated, with excerpts from the musical scores and photographs of past productions. this is surely the last word on Gilbert and Sullivan.