Princess Ida

Date 2nd May 2012
Society East Norfolk Operatic Society
Venue Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich
Type of Production Gilbert & Sullivan
Director Patrick Monk
Musical Director Eric James


Author: Susan DuPont

A very well cast production, really that is what made the production gel and prove again the high standard of G & S from ENOS in style and singing. What an inspiration to bite the bullet and, rather than accept mediocrity, go for and bring in the young professional tenor to lift the production into sparkling life, to give great credibility to the relationships and to raise the standard of singing for the central couple and hence for all the company: we know that Gennie Plunkett has the superb clear soprano totally suited to Ida, those wonderful golden notes, the poise for the role especially in ‘I built upon a rock’, but how enhanced when playing opposite Martin Milnes as Hilarion, the duets a dream of balance and feeling and perfection in notes and sound (and perfection diction). And his companions (Patrick Monk and Luke Davey) made up this group of likeable young men working their mischief in a female university, a high standard of singing from these three led by this Hilarion, the trios in Act 2 were especially strong and well balanced, loved ‘I am a maiden’. And as a stand-in Cyril (but not first time in role) Patrick Monk worked his magic in the ‘Kiss Me’ with fun, and not recognised under his wig. A piece of floating gossamer with golden pure thistle-down notes, flirting and dancing around the stage, the Melissa of Rachel Goodchild was a delight to watch and listen to, just could not keep my eyes off her when on stage, how good to see her return (and thank you to the family for the baby sitting to give us the opportunity to enjoy her performances again). And how well she worked, not just with the young men, but also with the Lady Blanche of Ros Swetman, the duet ‘Ruling the Roost’ beautifully blended and timed. The philosophy well delivered by this Professor of Abstract Sciences, interesting how many of the predictions by Gilbert have come close to fruition over time, a strong domineering performance. Lady Psyche, Julie Thompson, back from an absence of too long, another piece of excellent casting for this strong and delightful soprano role, she just gilded the lily in the line-up. Strength in casting, portrayal, and vocals from the two kings: how superb the balance of the contrasting roles and the realisation of the characters, Mark Horner as Hildebrand, a truly magnificent figure looking so regal in his crown and with that great mellow voice, and Alan Weyman as the embittered Gama hating the world, a difficult role but one that he performed with experience and expertise. The sons of Gama looked great on their armour, well bearded as military men, led with confidence by Robin Richardson as Arac, accompanied by the Swetman brothers, a strong trio to complete the large number of principals. And not to forget the chorus with all those harmonies and big numbers, the sound was terrific and certainly Chorus Mistress Margaret Collingwood had got them on their toes and in full voice to great credit.
And finally (how can it be final after your successful award) to the settings, excellent and obviously aiming to achieve another technical award! Pleased that Jim and I were able to meet up with those responsible and congratulate them.