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Raymond J Walker
MusicWeb International, June 2012

…this Australian Opera version is extremely fresh in its flamboyant production and clearly has much to commend it. The music follows Sullivan’s scoring most of the time yet benefits from a completely new overture which is extremely pleasant. Tim Goodchild’s lavish Japanese staging follows a pantomimic genre in some respects: huge vases/urns are used to hide in, and a large practical teapot dwarfs any Mad Hatter’s tea party. Pooh Bah (with all his roles ‘rolled into one’) is ‘put away’ in a man-sized wardrobe fitted with numerous filing drawers which doubles as his office. A few additions to the dialogue are appropriate, including Shakespeare, and do not interrupt the flow of the plot.

Stuart Maunder’s production is fast-paced and much detailed carefully planned stage business holds the audience’s attention. His characters are convincing and provide eccentric mannerisms ‘appropriate to their station’. Ko-Ko as a ‘Harold Lloyd meets Rik Mayall’ character is an acrobatic delight. Nanki Poo with his cheesy smile delivers a splendid ‘A wandering minstrel I’ and Ko-Ko a witty ‘Little List’ (with some of the jokes distinctly Australian). Yum-Yum is deliciously feminine and takes on Gilbert’s conventional characterization.

All characters sing superbly and the vocal numbers are a joy to listen to. The Mikado might have had more fire than the relaxed delivery of his spoken lines yet his resonant bass voice comes across well.

The contribution by the musical director and the orchestra was first class. A new and fresh version of the overture has been substituted for the traditional one. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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