1995 – The Gondoliers

The Gondoliers

by W.S.Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.

Monday, 8th May to Saturday, 13th May, 1995
The Spadesbourne Suite, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove.

Cast And Credits

  • Stage Director: Roberta Morrell
  • Co-director: Kenneth Sandford
  • Musical Director: Simon Holt
  • Marco Palmieri: J. Paul Murdock
  • Giusepppe Palmieri: Graham Smith
  • Gianetta: Sue Thomas
  • Tessa: Sue Bills
  • The Duke of Plaza-Toro: George Brooks
  • The Duchess of Plaza-Toro: Hilary Holland
  • Casilda: Gill Rowland
  • Luiz: James Allen
  • Don Alhambra Del Bolero: Ian G. Cox
  • Inez: Audrey Kanska
  • Antonio: David Pavely
  • Francesco: Arthur Bowkett
  • Giorgio: Peter Hensman
  • Annibale: Arthur Bowkett
  • Fiametta: Eileen Askew
  • Vittoria: Linda Dent
  • Giulia: Janet Harvey


Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri, the most popular gondoliers in Venice, have announced that they intend to marry two of the girls – the Contadine – who have gathered to meet them in the famous Plazzetta, in a corner of St Mark’s Square. That sounds a little presumptuous, but nobody seems to mind because all the Contadine are in love with them anyway. And just to show that it does not really matter who their brides are, Marco and Giuseppe allow themselves to be blindfolded and choose them in a game of blind man’s buff. Marco catches Giannetta, Giuseppe captures Tessa, and a double wedding is instantly planned.

They all go off to the ceremony, leaving no one to greet the Duke of Plaza-Toro, who has arrived in Venice with the Duchess and their daughter, Casilda, who was married to the future King of Barataria when she and her bridegroom were both small children. The boy was taken from Barataria to Venice which gives the Duke and his party two problems: Casilda is now in love with Luiz, her father’s personal drummer – and nobody knows who is the man who is supposed to be returning to Barataria to claim his kingdom and his crown.

The ground for the uncertainty was laid when the baby was taken to Venice and put in the care of a gondolier who has since died, to be brought up with his own son.

The Grand Inquisitor, Don Alhambra Del Bolero, breaks in on the four newly-weds with the news that one of the brothers is in fact to be the King. They decide that until they know which of them if Barataria’s missing monarch, they will rule jointly – but as they set off for the island kingdom they and their brides are understandably upset by Don Alhambra’s ruling that the girls cannot accompany them.

The two gondoliers are settling nicely to their life in their island kingdom, but are nevertheless missing their wives. So when Gianetta and Tessa arrive with all the contadine there is a distinct improvement in their morale. It is nevertheless something of a shock for Casilda, who also arrives: she and her parents and the Grand Inquisitor were expecting to meet her husband but what she has found are two possible husbands – both already married.

Which gondolier is the king – and which the accidental bigamist?

Fortunately, the puzzle is solved by Inez, mother of Luiz and former nurse to Marco and Giuseppe, whose intervention ensures a happy ending all round.

Song List

Act 1:

  • List and Learn, Ye Dainty Roses (Contadine, Gondoliers, Antonio, Marco & Giuseppe)
  • From the Sunny Spanish Shore (Duke, Duchess, Casilda & Luiz)
  • In Enterprise of Martial Kind (Duke & Chorus)
  • O Rapture (Casilda & Luiz)
  • There Was a Time (Casilda & Luiz)
  • I Stole the Prince (Don Alhambra, Duke, Duchess, Casilda & Luiz)
  • But, Bless my Heart (Casilda & Don Alhambra)
  • Try We Long Life (Duke, Duchess, Casilda, Luiz & Grand Inquisitor)
  • Bridegroom and Bride (Chorus)
  • When a Merry Maiden Marries (Tessa & Chorus)
  • Kind Sir, You Cannot Have the Heart (Gianetta)
  • Then One of Us Will Be Queen (Marco, Giuseppe, Gianetta & Tessa)

Act 2:

  • Of Happiness The Very Pith (Marco, Giuseppe & Chorus)
  • Rising Early in the Morning (Giuseppe & Chorus)
  • Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes (Marco)
  • Here We Are at the Risk of our Lives (Fiametta, Vittoria, Gianetta & Chorus)
  • Dance a Cachucha (Chorus)
  • There Lived a King (Don Alhambra, Marco & Giuseppe)
  • In a Contemplative Fashion (Marco, Giuseppe, Gianetta & Tessa)
  • With Ducal Pomp (Duke, Duchess & Chorus)
  • On Day When When I Was Wedded (Duchess)
  • To Help Happy Commoners (Duke)
  • I am a Courtier (Duke, Duchess, Marco & Giuseppe)
  • Here is a Case Unprecedented (Marco, Giuseppe, Casilda, Tessa & Company)


What The Press Said

Stirring Performance boosted by truly polished direction

Mark my words. Bromsgrove Operatic Society Gondoliers are really riding on a crest of a wave.

This years Gilbert and Sullivan offering lived up to all it’s promises with direction from two former D’oyly Carte members Roberta Morrell and Kenneth Sandford giving it real polish.

Despite looking slightly uncomfortable in the opening scene on a cramped stage, the performers soon got into their stride to perform a musical feast. The strength of the central character ensured that the Gondoliers never strayed off course.

J Paul Murdock and Graham Smith formed an excellent double-act as Marco and Guiseppe, the venitian gondoliers who randomly pick two of their female admirers and marry them.

The contrast in their voices as well as their physiques made their performances even more enjoyable.

Able support was given by their brides, Tessa (Sue Bills) and Giannetta (Sue Thomas), the latter has to be heard to be believed!

The Duke of Plazo Toro’s party (led by George Brooks), arriving with news that one of the gondoliers is already married, added brilliantly to the plays overall comic effect.

Mention must also be made of Ian G Cox, who gave a wonderfully straight performance as the Grand Inquisitor who helps to bring a happy performance to a truly stirling show.

An effective set, dazzling costumes and rousing music really provided the icing on the cake.

Tim Hunt – The Standard

Such a Subtle Talent

Musical director Simon Holt leaves after Saturdays final performance of this superb production to take over the Bristol Cathedral Choir, it is doubtful if he will encounter more talented singers than these.

Graham Smith and J Paul Murdock as the gondoliers, Sue Thomas and Sue Bills (wives) and James Allen (Luiz) provide sparkling performances in a show full of vitality and comic subtlety.

George Brooks (Duke) must take credit for the most colourfully devloped character.

A pleasing aspect is the dominance of the lyrics allowing every line to be clearly heard.

Peter Swinger – Evening News

Appealing Work Given First Class Treatment

Bromsgrove Operatic Society has built up a reputation for lively and musically accomplished performances and Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers was no exception.

The familiar melodies were projected with freshness and vigour while the acting showed polish. Chorus lines were delivered with clarity and brightness of tone and the strength of the mens chorus was impressive with numbers and ducal pomp.

J Paul Murdock and Graham Smith proved happy choices as Marco and Guiseppe respectively; Mr Murdock’s Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes revealed his attractive and flexible voice at it’s best. Mr Smith’s ‘Rising Early in the Morning’ was a striking rendition with strong support from the chorus.

George Brooks as the Duke and Hilary Holland as the Duchess fully exploited the humour of their lines. Hilary Hollands ‘On The Day When I was Wedded’ was particularly notable while Mr Brooks’ “In Enterprise of Martial Kind” achieved first rate clarity of diction.

The Grand Inquisitor was giving a suitably robust and commanding interpretation by Ian Cox. Especially memorable was his attempt to dissuade the two Gondoliers from their egalitarian views in “Their Lived a King”.

Giannetta and Tessa were played by Sue Thomas and Sue Bills. Ms Thomas’ “Kind Sir you Cannot have a Heart” displayed the seemingly effortless skill of this talented singer. The quartet “In a Contemplative Fashion” is a demanding number which was given a fine performance.

James Allen as Luiz produced a pleasantly full sound which was used to impressive effect in “There was a Time”.

Musical Director Simon Holt ensured that effective instrumental support was given to the singers at Bromsgroves Spadesbourne Suite. A good balance was achieved throughout with sensitive playing.

This was certainly a production of which the Society can be proud, a performance worthy of this witty and appealing work.

Liz Le Grove – Bromsgrove Advertiser

The Gondoliers

This society goes from strength to strength, in the twelve years they have been in operation they have improved with each show I have seen. I was delighted to see how Sue Thomas has progressed and of course, one of my favourite performers, George Brooks was up to his usual standard as the Duke. I loved the two Gondoliers Paul Murdock and Graham Smith both experienced actors and singers and with a good supporting cast and a sympathetic orchestra – this was a first class production.

Noda News – Gladys Blacker