OMTF // Carl Rosa Opera
Profile Features  
Address:Carl Rosa Opera
359 Hackney Road
London E2 8PR  
Tel:+44 20 7613 0777
Fax:+44 20 7613 0859
Peter MulloyArtistic Director
Mig Kimpton**General Manager
Victoria CollierDevelopment Asst
** main contact
Which Yeomen at the Tower?Sep 2009
Carl Rosa Opera take Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeomen to the Tower of London

The Yeomen of the Guard, dressed in red and gold, are bodyguards to the Queen; they don't hang out at the Tower of London, despite Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta placing them there.  It is the Yeomen Warders, with a rather more sober costume of red and dark blue, who are the keepers of the ravens and the crown jewels.  But let us not quibble with the masters of English comic opera or the Tower Festival, which in addition to Kiri te Kanawa, Sadlers Wells Ballet, Nigel Kennedy and Womad has commissioned a special production from G & S specialists Carl Rosa Opera for their two-week festival in September.

Although it is a comedy, The Yeomen of the Guard was the closest that team G & S came to a serious opera.  Set in the Tudor period, the tale of a wrongly imprisoned captain, a Yeoman's daughter, the gaoler and some strolling players does not set out, like most of the Savoy operas, to satirise Victorian institutions.  There are the traditional intrigues and misunderstandings and a brace of marriages at the end, but all does not end happily for everyone.

The new Carl Rosa Opera production will be performed on the festival stage in the moat area with the Tower walls providing the appropriate surroundings.  A 60-strong chorus will support a cast which will include Paul Nicholas, Susan Gorton, Donald Maxwell and Charlotte Church.

The Yeomen of the Guard can be seen at the Tower of London on September 13 and 14.

Now he is the Ruler of the Queen's NaveeMar 2009
Coronation Street's John Savident joins Carl Rosa Opera for their new production of HMS Pinafore

HMS Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan's first great success and remains one of their most popular and frequently revived works.  A new production by Carl Rosa Opera sets sail in the spring for a 3 month tour that covers all the points of the compass from Glasgow to Brighton and from Cheltenham to Norwich.

John Savident, known to millions as butcher Fred Elliot in Coronation Street, takes on the role of Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty who is seeking to make the Captain's daughter his bride.  High seas, high dudgeon and high hopes of everything turning out well abound in this comic opera with Carl Rosa Opera's Artistic Director Peter Mulloy at the helm.  Setting the action in 1805 after the death of Lord Nelson, the production has a distinct Dickensian flavour, and its design acknowledges Gilbert's original plan to have Nelson's flagship HMS Victory represented on stage.

Carl Rosa Opera's new production of HMS Pinafore opens at Glasgow's Theatre Royal on Tuesday 10 March.

Electrifying Gilbert and SullivanFeb 2008
The Carl Rosa Opera Company continue their season at the Gielgud Theatre, London, with two more revitalised Gilbert and Sullivan satires on British social life

Iolanthe, written for the Savoy Theatre, London in 1882, exploited the fact that the theatre was the first to have electricity and included head-dresses and magic wands with battery powered stars.  The operetta is a parody of High Victorian romantic drama which sets the Lord Chancellor and a chorus of Peers in full court dress down in the middle of the countryside where they become entangled with some aspirational fairies.  Director Peter Mulloy, knowing that Peers still present a highly charged satirical target, aims for a balance between the original production intentions (assisted by Gilbert's prompt book) and a contemporary approach.

The Pirates of Penzance with its orphaned pirates and flat-footed policemen (Jo Brand stars as the Sergeant of Police) is probably the better known of the two operettas, partly because it has been successfully presented in the style of American musicals.  In fact the official premiere took place in New York.  This was in order to confound American pirates - part of a plan to prevent unauthorised American companies from mounting illicit versions - a perennial problem with the highly successful Gilbert and Sullivan brand.  There was however a token première in Paignton, Devon, to establish British copyright.  Parts of this earlier version, which reveals a lot of interesting additional material, have been incorporated into the current Carl Rosa production, to produce a fresh, new version which has won awards, both in the UK and in America, where the company regularly tours.

The Carl Rosa Opera Company season at London's Gielgud Theatre includes The Mikado (finishes February 10, before transferring to Cheltenham.  See TRA LA!), Iolanthe (opening 11 February) and The Pirates of Penzance (opening 18 February).

Tra la!Jan 2008
Two touring productions of The Mikado are as welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring

January can be a lacklustre month after the extravagances of Christmas.  But touring companies Opera della Luna and the Carl Rosa Opera Company are determined to invoke Nanki-Poo's promise of roses and wine and merry sunshine and bring on an early spring with one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular operas.

The Mikado has the most extraordinary of operatic track records: it was an instant success in 1885, not only filling the Savoy Theatre in London for nearly two years, but quickly being taken up in Europe and America.  It was revived in 1896 and achieved over a thousand performances in London alone.  It was toured consistently by the D'Oyly Carte company for over 100 years and since it came out of copyright in 1962 has been liberally reinterpreted, reinvented and imitated on stage and in film.

Its enduring popularity is partly due to its humour: it was originally intended to satirise British life but many of its targets - pomposity, snobbery, the trials and tedium of office, the fallibility of logic - are universal.  The craftsmanship and the approachability of its text and music have stood the test of time and the Japanese setting offers exotic design and staging opportunities.  The Victorians were fascinated by all things Japanese: in 1885 London there was a Japanese exhibition in Knightsbridge which drew huge crowds.  Japanese artefacts, vases and jars were everywhere and Liberty in Regent Street had imported fabulous Japanese fabrics which made a huge impact on the fashion world.  Liberty were subsequently given the contract to provide the costumes for the first production.  The impact of the riot of colour which suddenly exploded onto the stage of the Savoy Theatre was undoubtedly part of its immediate success.

Opera della Luna aim to bring a contemporary slant setting The Mikado in the zany, flashy world of fashion houses.  With costumes inspired by Versace and Jean-Paul Gautier, it promises a riot of gorgeous and bizarre creations, stunning gowns and glamour.  The production opens at the Lowry, Salford on January 16 and tours throughout January and February.  See Events Calendar 

The look of the original is represented by the Carl Rosa Opera Company: the production is a historic re-creation of the original Savoy production.  Gilbert's authenticated prompt book has been the source for the direction, staging, and choreography.  With replica costumes from the Oscar-winning Mike Leigh film Topsy-Turvy and settings in similar style, it aims to be both period-conscious and of today.  The production, with Alistair McGowan in the title role, opens on January 30 at the Gielgud Theatre, London for ten performances.