The Gondoliers, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH This Carl Rosa performance comes up fresh as paint.


Art thou troubled? Then G&S will calm thee. The passage of time had smoothed the edge of most of the political satire, if by no means all, just as it has muted the echoes of the musical parodies that run through the score. But this Carl Rosa performance comes up as fresh as paint.

Though the production is traditional in spirit, director Jamie Hayes finds enough innovation to add spice to old jokes and familiar situations. As adroit as John Wellington Wells, the “Grand Inquisitor” (Bruce Graham), transforms settings that are filmed with a cast in costumes that are always imaginative and usually very decorative too.

A sprightly soprano, a live mezzo with reserves of power, an ardent tenor in sparkling form and a fine baritone give life to the leading roles, all vocally at their ease whether in solos or even better in ensembles.

Daniel Hoadley as Luiz makes the best of his perhaps unduly slender part, while Simon Butteriss, small in stature, suits lively action to clearly projected words, always the centre of attention when he wants to be, as is the way with Dukes. Nuala Willis has fine stage presence too.

Energetic in perpetual motion, the chorus brings out situations with full tone and energetic attack. Under Richard Balcombe, the orchestra has power and colour, the capacity to bring out moments of grandeur as well as to convey a sense of romance and the equally important ability to pipe down, so that the singers can be heard clearly.

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t The Gondoliers continues at the Theatre Royal until Saturday September 28. Box office: 01603 630000.