Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



AARON HUNT: Rudolph has been one of my favourite of the patter roles to play. There are many opportunities for fun and a full-fledged characterization, and the few places that have afforded me difficulty are balanced by both the libretto and the score.

While the opening patter-song is terribly difficult to get across to the audience with it's unreliable rhyming scheme, from the standpoint of introducing the character, the piece is a real treat. The following monologue is a real bugger to memorize, with all of those reoccurring lackeys to remember in precise order, but when it all comes to mind, the ability to build an accelerando throughout the monologue gives the patter-boy that chance that the previous patter-song does not.

The scene with the mezzo is one of my favourites in the canon. It is a fine example of Gilbert showing a genuine affection between two people based on mutual interest and familiarity, clouded covertly in a fog of forced acceptance. The duet is a real hoot, my favourite place being Rudolph's "Go on!" in answer to the Baroness' claim to have indulged in "table beer".

Rudolph is gifted by G & S with his own "nightmare" song, and, if used to really outline the character, this can be a fine moment. If the verses are given in different tempo and feel, there is really no reason to cut this piece.

The Act I Finale with it's nauseating recit that begins with that nasty rolled "r" is not at all fun, I only hope that it is funny for the audience. Also, the tessitura in the finale is strange after the music that has come before it, and the little "cannon" with Ludwig about the faux "insult" was difficult for me to negotiate. I prefer this little bit at a fast pace, rather than making it a sudden largo.

The finale E major patter is another shift in tessitura, but is rewarding after the nice rest that Rudolph has been given. Whether Rudolph ends up with the Baroness or the Princess of Monte Carlo, I always feel properly sated and ready for some "table beer" of my own.

HARRIET MEYER: At the risk of embarrassing this nice gentleman further, we thought his Rudolph absolutely outstanding, and now we know why! You made it look easy!

TOM SHEPARD: NYGASP last season was quite excellent. NYGASP made up Rudolph to look like WSG. Very clever.

RONALD I. ORENSTEIN: When I played the Prince, back in the Upper Pleistocene, my biggest laugh came on "This is a charming specimen - an antique, I should say . . ."

BILL SNYDER: The end of #20 has the chorus enter, then #21 is the Baroness' Drinking Song, admittedly with only five measures of 4part harmony. Without break come #22 with chorus and #23 with chorus. Then in come the Prince of Monte Carlo and his Beeutiful daughter, Ben Hashbaz and the Six Supernumeraries. That's 8 men offstage (9, if you count the Herald) during all the preceding chorus music. How big a men's chorus did Sullivan have? With amateur G&S it's always a crap shoot on how many men you'll have. As I see it, you've got 9 of your best men singing from offstage.

NEAL MADRAS: The 1980 Cornell production cut Ben Hashbaz entirely, and made due with four supernumeraries, of which two were women. (I don't recall if the music for the supernumeraries was cut or not.)

BRUCE WALTON: I once played the Prince in a society which barely had 9 men in the whole cast, never mind in the chorus. To solve it, the director (a certain Mrs Watson) drafted in her two children and two cousins, all aged 7 to 10. They came on in a line behind us and mimed, while the real chorus (who hide behind the drapery to catch the newcomers by surprise, you'll recall) did the singing. The only adults onstage were me, the Princess whose name was Lindsay, a tubby Scottish guy playing Viscount Mentone, and a very short chap called Richard as Ben Hashbaz. The following alternative lyrics for 'We're rigged out in magnificent array' were composed:

Now here come Bruce and Lindsay passing by -
With Little Richard and a fat old Scotsman,
And just to make all the grannies sigh -
Four very cute young Watsons!
(We're the very cute young Watsons!)
We are there when all else fails
And you can't get no-one else
Four very cute young Watsons,
Four very cute young Watsons!

Page created 22 March 1998