CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story contained errors. For information, call 301-5751. Also, Sunday's production is at 2:30 p.m.
The Mercer University Opera, led by director Martha Malone and conductor Richard Kosowski, are excited to bring the Gilbert and Sullivan classic Iolanthe to the stage this weekend.
A lot of people have seen other Gilbert and Sullivan operas, Malone said, and this one is very similar. It is a political satire that makes fun of the House of Lords in Parliament. Everyone is inherited titles, dukes and lords and what not, and in Gilbert and Sullivan, the big disgrace is when someone from a high class falls in love with someone in a low class.
In a twist that adds humor and whimsy, the characters are both human and fairy.
In this case, we have a fairy that has fallen in love with a mortal, which is against the fairy law, Malone said. She has a son with a human. When he grows up, the Queen of the Fairies sends the young half breed to take over the House of Lords and he puts an intelligence barrier into place. This is political satire meets fairy tale.
Malone and Kosowski have followed another Gilbert and Sullivan tradition, too.
This is about politics. There are a lot of universal jokes about politics so we have updated the dialogue to reflect current events -- just gently making fun of the last election year and Congress, no hot button issues, we promise, she said. So much in politics turns out to be universal and it doesnt matter where or when, people want to laugh at their politicians.
In addition, Malone has promised a beautiful evening overall.
We have 28 people in the cast. All but two are students in the music program. We have wonderful singer-actors who are very good. It doesnt sound difficult, but when you are all singing and dancing and acting up a storm, it is hard. But our audiences wont be disappointed. Also, the costumes are gorgeous, she said.
Malone added that the opera is fairly funny and musically rich.
Its not done a lot, because it is pretty complex. Its rewarding and musically rich. The composer Sullivan does a lot of satires on different composers, that suit the different characters. If you are a classical music fan, it can be fun to find. If youre not, you still enjoy it, she said. The tunes are singable and memorable. This is more a 19th century musical than a traditional opera. Its what the Broadway musical descended from.
As far as being able to relate to the opera, Malone said that its not over your head at all. This is common entertainment for people, only with a British accent. Youll leave with a smile in your heart and a song on your lips, or a song in your heart and a smile on your lips. There isnt a bad seat in the house and I promise you will be singing along by the time you leave.
Its a romp, more than anything else, Malone summed up. We are all very excited and really looking forward to it.
Gilbert & Sullivans Iolanthe
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Fickling Hall, Mercer University
Cost: $10 general admission; one free ticket with Mercer ID, all students free