Love Blooms in Elizabethan England
The Tower of London is the setting for one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most successful operettas, The Yeomen of the Guard, which the Victorian Lyric Opera Company will perform beginning February 29th at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, in Rockville, MD
Thursday, February 20th will be a special $12 Preview Performance. This, and the subsequent evening performances February 21-22 and February 28-March 1, will be performed at 8 pm. The special community outreach activities on February 23rd will begin at 12:45 pm with backstage tours and craft activities for children, with a 2 pm matinee. The closing matinee on March 2nd will also have a 2 pm curtain.Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $16 for students.
Scholars regard Yeomen as the closest of the Gilbert and Sullivan works to the Grand Opera style and this plot to be one of their most well-crafted.
The original show ran for 423 performances in London in 1888-89, later toured America extensively, and has been widely performed ever since. “We place the songs and choruses…before all his [Sullivan’s] previous efforts…” enthused the London Daily Telegraph, in a typical review on opening night in 1888. “Thus the music follows the book to a higher plane, and we have a genuine English opera….” Even today, this uniquely dramatic Savoy opera is a favorite of many G&S enthusiasts worldwide.
VLOC Artistic Director Joseph Sorge is serving as music director for the production and conducting the VLOC orchestra. He explains the show’s continuing appeal to modern audiences, “I’ve always considered The Yeomen of the Guard to be one of Sullivan’s most operatic scores. The music of the execution scene in the Act I finale is as moving and dramatic as anything Verdi ever wrote.”
The plot follows Colonel Fairfax, an English aristocrat and military hero unjustly condemned to death for sorcery through the accusation of a scheming relative who will inherit his estate if he dies unmarried. Fairfax, wanting to deprive his heir, enlists an old friend’s aid in marrying, and the selected bride happens to be the female half of a pair of itinerant actors. Fairfax is beloved by the yeomen tower guards, whose sergeant plots his escape. As Stage Director Catherine Huntress-Reeve reflects on the rest of the plot she explains, “This show is about love: love of family, love of friends, love of country, and most especially, true romantic love.” She continues, “This love is not the silly obsession of Bunthorne’s groupies in Patience,but is, instead, the yearning of most of the characters for a sweetheart, a helpmate, and a love for life. The plot turns on these yearnings and on the choices (wise and unwise) that the characters make in order to satisfy them.”
To experience the rest of this story firsthand, Huntress-Reeve invites you to “join us for this warm, wry, and bittersweet look at life and love, set in Renaissance England, but yet universal.”
For tickets, call the F. Scott Fitzgerald box office at (240) 314-8690, or purchase them online.
Meet the cast and creative team and orchestra members of VLOC’s The Yeomen of the Guard.