The Gondoliers is a joyous opera, happy, energetic and exuberant. The opening sequence (a continuous cascade of music, unbroken by dialogue) confirmed within the first five minutes that Surrey Opera had stamped their considerable authority on the production with a seamless and powerful delivery of full measure.
Ben Thapa and Andrew Davies shaped the rather laid-back character of the two Venetian gondolieri, Marco and Giuseppe, with fine performances that were well matched by their long-suffering spouses, Eloise Routledge as Gianetta and Rose Nolan as Tessa.
Opening his sequence in a gondola with the song From the sunny Spanish shore came the infamous Duke of Plaza-Toro exemplified by the larger-than-life Tim Baldwin with his Duchess (Rhonda Browne), their daughter Casilda brilliantly played by Rebecca Hodgetts, with Luiz in attendance, played by the accomplished Rhys Bowden.
The rippling, fast-flowing story brings many memorable songs as the plot unfolds, perhaps the most memorable of which is “Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes” delivered by the happy gondolier (Marco).
For the chorus, the rhythmic Dance a Cachucha was a triumph, superbly choreographed to provide the spectacle of a blaze of moving costume colours enhanced by the special lighting effects of Christopher Corner.
Gabriel Gottlieb’s role as the authoritarian Don Alhambra del Bolero, Grand Inquisitor, provided another fine portrayal, while the multi-tasking role of Jonathan Butcher as Conductor and Director once again enabled this talented company to bring a highly professional production to the stage.
Foremost in the lasting memory of this production must be the brilliance of the portrayal of Casilda by Rebecca Hodgetts. Her talented acting and singing ability surely provides this young actress with a bright and assured future.