Timothy Burke, conductor of Patience, talks what to listen out for in Gilbert and Sullivan’s comedic masterpiece.
On Such Eyes As Maidens Cherish
Sullivan writes such beautiful and lyrical music to depict the world of the ‘Lovesick Maidens’ who lounge around feeling heartbroken and thinking of faint lilies. The surprising harmonies at the beginning of this number open the second act with expansive melancholy before introducing the quintessentially Victorian melody on the cornets.
The Soldiers Of Our Queen/If You Want A Receipt
The melancholy and poetic world of the Maidens finds its polar opposite in the thigh-slapping brassy ‘oom-pahs’ of the Dragoon Guards. After their brief introductory chorus, the Colonel sings his iconic ‘patter’ song – a hilariously preposterous catalogue of all the remarkable people of history whose wonderful deeds and qualities have been boiled down to create the essence of a Dragoon Guard.
Love Is A Plaintive Song
Patience, the titular heroine, spends the piece trying to discover what love is. By half way through Act 2, she thinks she has the answer, but it is quite a dark answer, with feelings of melancholy and misery mixed in with ideas of true, pure love. Sullivan’s song starts simply, with a beautiful melody in the minor key. Listen to the lovely interplay between Patience and the clarinet at ‘Tuned to each changing note’, and to the gear-change into the brightness of the major key at ‘Love that no wrong can cure’.
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