February 29, 2008

Happy 38th Birthday, Young Frederic!

(If I've got my math right, of course.***)

(I had to poke around a bit through all the clips of that detestable Kevin Kline Pirates - if there's one thing I can't stand, it's campy Gilbert & Sullivan - but came across this rayther nice performance apparently from the University of Iowa Summer Opera. Not the best film or sound in the world, but I think the pleasant singing, the full orchestra and the good staging make it worthwhile.)

The dialogue that follows this sequence is quite amusing, too:

FREDERIC: Upon my word, this is most curious-- most absurdly whimsical. Five-and-a-quarter! No one would think it to look at me!

RUTH: You are glad now, I'll be bound, that you spared us. You would never have forgiven yourself when you discovered that you had killed two of your comrades.

FREDERIC: My comrades?

KING: (rises) I'm afraid you don't appreciate the delicacy of your position, me boy: You were apprenticed to us--

FREDERIC: Until I reached my twenty-first year.

KING: No, until you reached your twenty-first birthday (producing document), and, going by birthdays, you are as yet only five-and-a-quarter.

FREDERIC: You don't mean to say you are going to hold me to that?

KING: No, we merely remind you of the fact, and leave the rest to your sense of duty.

RUTH: Your sense of duty!

FREDERIC: (wildly) Don't put it on that footing! As I was merciful to you just now, be merciful to me! I implore you not to insist on the letter of your bond just as the cup of happiness is at my lips!

RUTH: We insist on nothing; we content ourselves with pointing out to you your duty.

KING: Your duty!

FREDERIC: (after a pause) Well, you have appealed to my sense of duty, and my duty is only too clear. I abhor your infamous calling; I shudder at the thought that I have ever been mixed up with it; but duty is before all -- at any price I will do my duty.

KING: Bravely spoken! Come, you are one of us once more.

FREDERIC: Lead on, I follow. (Suddenly) Oh, horror!

KING/RUTH: What is the matter?

FREDERIC: Ought I to tell you? No, no, I cannot do it; and yet, as one of your band--

KING: Speak out, I charge you by that sense of conscientiousness to which we have never yet appealed in vain.

FREDERIC: General Stanley, the father of my Mabel--

KING/RUTH: Yes, yes!

FREDERIC: He escaped from you on the plea that he was an orphan?

KING: He did.

FREDERIC: It breaks my heart to betray the honoured father of the girl I adore, but as your apprentice I have no alternative. It is my duty to tell you that General Stanley is no orphan!


FREDERIC: More than that, he never was one!

KING: Am I to understand that, to save his contemptible life, he dared to practise on our credulous simplicity? (FREDERIC nods as he weeps) Our revenge shall be swift and terrible. We will go and collect our band and attack Tremorden Castle this very night.

FREDERIC: But stay--

KING: Not a word! He is doomed!

I was telling the Llama-ettes all about poor Frederic's plight this morning. They think he's very silly. They were also all eager for me to queue up the operetta for them....that is until they realized that I only had a CD version of it, not a video. (My CD - done by the D'oyle Carte people and the Royal Philharmonic, is excellent. But I've never come across a decent DVD version. As I say above, I detest that Kevin Kline version from the 80's, but none of the other videos I've seen have been very much better.) Ah, well.

(***At one point in the opera Frederic tells Mabel he won't reach his 21st birthday until 1940. That's 68 years ago. I divide 68 by 4 to get 17, which I then add to 21.)

Posted by Robert at February 29, 2008 09:05 AM | TrackBack

Frederic *might* only be 37 years old. I say that because I'm not sure if the writers were aware of the fact that 1900 was NOT a leap year**. Your math is correct (because 2000 was a leap year). I'm questioning their math.

** Years evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years unless they are also divisible by 400. Crazy, but true.

Posted by: Beth at February 29, 2008 11:46 AM

[Insert Johnny Carson-like "I did not know that" here.]

Perhaps it was Frederic himself who miscalculated. Given that he was in the process of having to say goodbye to his True Love, I reckon we can cut him a bit of slack.

Actually, there are all kinds of delicious anomalies in the story. Why, for instance, would any set of young ladies be contemplating the idea of paddling their bare feet in the water on the coast of Cornwall in February!

Posted by: Robbo the LB at February 29, 2008 12:23 PM

A most ingenious paradox!

Once a year, my wife and I go to Harvard to watch the Harvard-Radcliffe G&S players put on a performance (they do two productions a year, each runs for about a week each semester). Their staging of the Mikado in December was great, and the performances run about $10. Always well worth it; there is a lot of musical talent in the colleges around Boston, so the pit orchestra and singers are very good -- some of them have Broadway or summer stock experience.

Posted by: The Abbot at February 29, 2008 03:38 PM