April 21, 2001
The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company presented a fully staged production of H.M.S. Pinafore, from March 16th through April 8th of 2001. One of those in attendance for the production was Jere Lantz, conductor of the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, with whom the Company had collaborated several times in their joint summer concerts.
Mr. Lantz was also the conductor of the Rochester Orchestra and Chorale, in Rochester, Minnesota. After seeing the production, he was inspired to suggest staging a concert presentation of H.M.S. Pinafore with the Company and the Rochester Orchestra, along the lines of the summer concerts. The Company accepted his offer.
The arrangement for the concert was that the chorus members were to appear on stage, behind the orchestra, in concert dress, while the principals were to appear before the chorus, in traditional costumes. Under most circumstances, this would have been easily accomplished. The issue in this case, however, was that the Company’s 2001 production of H.M.S. Pinafore had not been set in the 1870s, but had been a “disco cruise ship” version of the operetta, set in the 1970s!
Fortunately the Company still had its costumes from its more traditional 1989 production. They were pulled from storage and fitted to the 2001 production’s cast members. It was an interesting experience for the Company to see its cast members costumed traditionally, having grown accustomed to the polyester leisure suits and disco dresses of the recent fully staged production!
The concert performance of H.M.S. Pinafore was staged at the Mayo Civic Center Auditorium, in Rochester, and was very well received by the Rochester Orchestra and Chorale’s appreciative audience.