“For today young Alexis, young Alexis Pointdextre,
Is betrothed to Aline, to Aline Sangazure,
And that pride of his sex is, of his sex is to be next her,
At the feast on the green, on the green, oh, be sure!”
November 8 to 24, 1985
|Stage Director:||Yale Marshall|
|Music Director:||Carolyn Davies|
|Artistic Director:||Wendy Evans|
Once the career of a composer or a team like Gilbert and Sullivan is finished and body of works is fixed and reviewable, then the public can relax and enjoy each stage of that career as its own entity. Knowing that the fully perfected jewels of Pirates, Patience, Mikado and Yeomen were still ahead does not mean that we can’t appreciate Gilbert and Sullivan’s earliest extant full-length operetta, The Sorcerer, on its own merits.
In fact, I have been guilty of being somewhat blind to the joys of this work myself, against the splendid aura the others give off. The last time I seriously looked at it, I was a much younger man, and the characters seemed, on the whole, a stodgy bunch of oldsters. But now as a old fogy (a very old fogy indeed) I am ready to appreciate their quite charm and fullness of character.
Take the question of heroines, for instance. In all the operas after Sorcerer and Pinafore, Gilbert seems to have decided that to avoid sentimentality he had to play the heroines for comedy; so he made them paper-doll cut-outs, usually driven by absurd, feather-headed manias (Patience and Rose Maybud) or exhibiting an almost horrifying callousness (Mabel and Yum-Yum).
Only in Aline and Josephine do we have fully developed and admirable women. In fact, all the characters in The Sorcerer are sympathetic, (no Katishas, Pooh-Bahs, or Lord Chancellors). Alexis is not really a villain, though he has the one serious fault of wanting to assure love through artificial means; he is more blind classical hero brought down by one lapse into insensitivity.
So let us allow ourselves to be beguiled by this work which came before the team had solidified its “formula.” In fact, let us treasure most those divergences from the later tried-and-true patterns (which we all love so much). In not having solidified the “Pooh-Bah role” yet, for instance, they have presented us with the delightful bonus of the gentle second-hero, the Vicar, Dr. Daly.
Two excellent internet resources for information about The Sorcerer: