Innocent merriment

Things have come to a pretty pass when lovely girls, handsome men, gorgeous costumes, melodious songs and a splendid orchestra no longer constitute suitable educational material for American students. It is easier to understand why attempts to bring Gilbert and Sullivan to Catalonia have failed. Here’s part of a review by J Donald Smith of the Catalan Mikado:

For those not familiar with the original, it must have made no sense… It is a very colorful, athletic and sexy production but for only very occasional viewing.

There’s an audio excerpt from Dagoll Dagom’s El Mikado here, with a not particularly splendid orchestra, and here you will find the complete libretto of the Catalan Pirates of Penzance in the translation by Xavier Bru de Sala, which, inevitably, has the pirates somewhere up the Costa Brava.

Just about the only pre-drinking age entertainment on Friday night in our village was to head up to the Parish Rooms, where the vicar would comment on the universality of G&S before threading his 50s D’Oyly Carte reels onto the projector. I think he would have been intrigued to hear of The Phantom Limbs, whose Applied Ignorance is billed as:

the sound of THE SCREAMERS and GILBERT & SULLIVAN going terribly wrong. Eerie, grinding keyboards mix with driving bass, thundering drums, wall-of-sound guitar and frantic, desperate vocals in a blend of old school punk, deathrock, and no wave. Their live shows have become stuff of legend too, with singer Hopeless sometimes going so far as to handcuff himself to unsuspecting fans. (ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES)

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  1. Oh, I’d like it to constitute “suitable educational material,” but I couldn’t see my students putting up with this particular version of Pirates (and the Joseph Papp archival recording–not the film–has such serious tech problems that I don’t dare use it). But I may play them something from Patience when I get to the aesthetes.

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