For 25 years the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival has attracted a world-wide audience to its annual “jamboree” and this silver anniversary year is no exception.
Almost 100 Canadian performers and supporters are flying all the way from British Columbia to Harrogate with a performance of The Gondoliers.
America’s oldest G&S Society, the Savoy Company from Philadelphia, and personally recognised by Gilbert himself in 1902, are returning to Harrogate with a performance of Iolanthe.
Each group will spend almost a week in the town enjoying the festival and the sights and sounds of Harrogate and North Yorkshire.
Gilbert and Sullivan is as popular today as ever. English National Opera are performing Iolanthe to full houses in the Coliseum London. Opera North attracted thousands to its Trial By Jury.
English Touring Opera toured the country last season with Patience and Sasha Regan’s all male ensemble receive rave reviews wherever it appears.
Gilbert and Sullivan is being performed currently in St Petersburg, Russia; France, Germany and even in Japan – in Japanese!
An undoubted highlight of the G&S Festival in Harrogate is the festival’s own professional group, the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company which this year will present five new productions.
They are he Pirates of Penzance, Ruddigore, Iolanthe, Trial by Jury and The Sorcerer during its three week run in Harrogate’s Royal Hall.
The company presents nothing but Gilbert and Sullivan and enjoys five star reviews from national theatre critics. Unlike many of the national opera companies it receives no public funding. The company is, however, gaining an outstanding reputation and will tour the UK following its appearance in Harrogate in August.
Some people will spend the whole three weeks at this year’s Festival with wall to wall Gilbert & Sullivan from 9am every morning to the early hours of the following morning. The day-time fringe programme this year gives 10 British universities the opportunity to bring their own full scale production to Harrogate Theatre for the special UNIFest competition,
A four day “event” entitled “The Magic of Gilbert and Sullivan” will feature 30 speakers travelling to Harrogate from Australia, America, Canada, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales with presentations on the life and times of England’s most famous theatrical partnership.
This year’s youth production of The Sorcerer has a cast of youngsters from around the UK, America and Europe and the very popular Bus Pass Opera for the over 60s is attracting one 92-year-old participant flying all the way from New Zealand just to appear in its production of The Yeomen of The Guard.
Approximately 2000 people will perform on stage or backstage at this year’s festival – the biggest celebration of Gilbert and Sullivan that the world has ever seen.
The festival runs from August 8 to 27.