What a Wonderful Weekend!

The 90th Anniversary of the first G&S Society Convention was a lovely event to be part of. Friends in the British Music Hall Society would have named it the ‘Green Beans and Carrots’ Convention, as luckily, my personal vegetable love meant I was happy eating these on the three days. The food was fine, and the Alma Lodge Hotel close to Stockport once again provided a spacious environment for socialising, listening to talks and concerts.

The first concert featured Matthew Siveter, a young singer with an enormous ability to take Gilbert & Sullivan to new generations of fans. He sang a variety of songs, many from G&S, which showcased his gift for comedy, and also his fine baritone voice. Many amusing anecdotes, including a demonstration of his skill in Irish dancing, made for a hugely enjoyable concert by a singer with a bright future and a wonderful personality. He was accompanied by Martin Yates who had predicted Matthew’s skill in G&S from an early age. The following day, Matthew was interviewed by Chairman, David Walton about his life and career. Matthew’s fan base will have increased this weekend.

Saturday morning saw Martin Yates look at influences in the composition of ‘The Mikado’, with explanation of the pentatonic scale and other musical devices: and also how Sullivan’s use of influences went on to influence Puccini’s ‘Madam Butterfly’ and ‘Turandot’. Hearing the music explained in this way made it sound even fresher and and more vibrant than usual.

Deborah Lea, who is Eleanor Evans’ great-niece, presented an illustrated history of Darrell Fancourt, Eleanor’s husband, looking at his life and his career in D’Oyly Carte where he remained for over three decades and over 10,000 performances. Deborah illustrated her talk with several recordings of Darrell’s singing which demonstrated his exemplary diction and ability to infuse his singing with character. Deborah also described Eleanor’s career with the company, initially as a singer, and latterly as Stage Director. There was also a display of many interesting items connected to Darrell. This talk was a direct result of Deborah’s friend, the singer and teacher Sandra Dugdale, recommending that Deborah approach the Society, and we were very pleased to present the talk as part of this weekend. The Society’s ‘Fancourt Trophy’, which in the 1950s Manchester society members could compete for by singing numbers from the operas, was presented to Deborah after her talk: a fitting gesture.

In the afternoon, Paul Taylor presented a condensed version of his talk about the events leading up to the first night of ‘Iolanthe’, both in the theatre and in the wider world. As usual, Paul used many unfamiliar illustrations in his talk, meticulously researched as usual. I was pleased to play the Lancers arrangement of ‘Iolanthe’ by Charles d’Albert as part of this talk.

A Celebrity Concert with Leon Berger, Joanna Gamble, Rachel Harland, Russell Painter and pianist, Tim Smith was very enjoyable, blending familiar and unfamiliar Sullivan and G&S items. Dialogue was included between some items, which showed the artistes’ ease with this material. Apparently more than one singer was having throat problems, but this didn’t detract from what was a successful concert.

On the final morning, John Balls and Arthur Barrett from the Norwich society, presented a fascinating hour, blending excerpts from recordings of both the Boer War Te Deum and the Festival Te Deum, several hymns with Sullivan’s music accompanied by David Mackie with his customary skill, and a couple of hilarious letters written by Gilbert to a cousin about his adventures as a new driver in 1902. It seems fitting, knowing the character of Gilbert, that he denied causing any of the three accidents he had been involved in within months of each other, luckily not causing too much damage or injury.

A final concert by Scottish soprano, Juliet Montgomery and baritone Nathan Bellis, accompanied by David Mackie was excellent. Half was G&S sung by their beautiful young voices, and half was music theatre, just as enjoyable. Here again, it was reassuring to know that G&S is in the safe hands of the next generation of singers. Maybe they are denied the training ground which D’Oyly Carte provided to many singers before them, but it was a lovely hour of music, skilfully and characterfully sung and accompanied.

After lunch, our 48 hours, certainly a pudding crammed full of plums, came to an end and it was time to leave. Thank you to those within Manchester G&S Society: Jean Dufty, Paul Taylor, Ray Walker and David Walton, who worked so hard to ensure the Twenty-Second Convention was successful.

David Wheeler

Matthew Siveter at the 22nd Gilbert and Sullivan Convention

with Martin Yates on the piano.


What a performance ! In the best of all possible ways.

This was the first time I had come across this great entertainer Matthew Siveter. Magnificently accompanied by Martin Yates. Martin kept us entertained and with song and laughter throughout the evening. He demonstrated his great character portrayals with a myriad of accents. The characterisations came through with his international renditions; cornish, london, French, spanish and even irish dancing (with the brogue). With audience participation and a few glimpses into his early career including anecdotes, jokes and stories even about being ”discovered” by Martin Yates when he played Thernardier in a young people’s production of Les Miserables. Martin introduced Matthew to Gilbert and Sullivan and here we are.

A great example of an all round entertainer.

I have been told that Matthew has starting writing – yet another bow to his comprehensive talents.

I am looking forward to his interview later this afternoon.

Twenty Second Gilbert and Sullivan Convention

Welcome to the 22nd G&S Convention at Alma Lodge Stockport 13th May to 15th May 2022

The convention opens with a four course Celebration Dinner
This will mark Manchester Society’s 90th Anniversary as well as being the opening of the Convention. Gather from 7pm for a 7:30pm start.

Followed by a concert with Matthew Siveter and Martin Yates.

Notices March 2022

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society:  Manchester

Notices:  Sunday March 6th 2022

The Norman Beckett meeting; an afternoon when we remember him with gratitude.  He was a pillar of this Society, Secretary for many years and an accompanist, playing the piano and his church organ.  He and his wife Grace sang in Salford Choral Society for many years.

Forthcoming productions;

1) Our members Peter Crichton and Sally Shaw will perform in The Yeomen of the Guard with Crosby G&S Society, Peter as Fairfax, Sally as Elsie, on Wednesday 16th to Friday 18th March at 7.30pm and Saturday 19th at 2.30pm at Southport Little Theatre, (near the station), Hoghton Street, Southport, PR9 0PA.  For tickets contact Peter on 07796 176018 or peter.crichton@savoyard.co.uk    And that Society will perform to us on April 3rd.

2) New Rosemere Gilbert and Sullivan Society will also perform The Yeomen of the Guard on Tuesday March 22nd to Friday 25th at 7.30 pm and Saturday 26th at 2.30 pm at Bolton Little Theatre, Hanover Street, Bolton BLL 4TG.  Book on their website.

3) Scottish Opera with D’Oyly Carte and State Opera South Australia will perform The Gondoliers at Hackney Empire, London March 30th to 2nd April.    Concert form of Utopia Ltd Hackney Empire  1st April 2022  at 7.30.  Richard Suart is Scaphio and Ben McAteer King Paramount, a very big part. 

4) Oldham Choral Society will perform Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonelle and Puccini’s Messe de Gloria on Sunday 10th April at 7.00 pm at the Stoller Hall, adjacent to Victoria Station, Manchester, near to Chetham’s Music School.  More information and tickets available from Margaret Hood Hoodmandhv@gmail.com

5) Sale Gilbert and Sullivan Society will perform HMS Pinafore and the Zoo from Monday May 16th to Thursday 19th at 7.30 pm each evening at the Lowry.  Tickets £16, concessions £15.   Ring 0343 208 6000   See also their website salegass.org.uk

6) Three Towns Operatic Society will present Iolanthe Tuesday May 17th to Saturday 21st.  Venue to be confirmed due to building work on their usual venue.

See their website www.thethreetowns.net 

Please note that these dates overlap with Sale G&S.

Other Notices

Christopher Browne has brought a few sales items and remember that he has a large stock of G&S and other theatre memorabilia for sale.  vIsit www.gilbertandsullivanonline.com to see his online catalogue and order online or by phone. 

And Barbara Richardson has some professional photos of Tom Round and a few other D’Oyly Carte stars for sale.  These usually sell for about Non-autographed items c.£8.00-£12.00. Autographed c. £15.00-£20.00.  Also some records and other items.

And Jean has a centenary D’Oyly Carte plate.  Lovely pastel blue and green colours.  After David Homer’s demise his daughter asked Jean if she could find a good home for it.

There are copies of our programme card and coloured leaflet to use for publicity; please take some to display in your local library, evening class centre, music shop or to give to anyone who may be interested in our Society.  We do need to keep numbers up.

Remember we have one more Zoom meeting this season, on Saturday March 19th at 10.30 am UK time (evening in Australia) when Stuart Maunder will talk about his production of Gondoliers mentioned overleaf, item 3, and his concert form presentation of Utopia.

On Sunday April 3rd at 2.30 pm in Cross Street Chapel LIVE meeting when Crosby G&S Society will give us a concert.

And on Tuesday evening May 10th at 7.30 pm on ZOOM the Annual General Meeting.

And of course the Convention – a whole weekend of G&S; fun and fellowship – “oh, it’s too much happiness”.  Friday evening May 13th (Sullivan’s birthday) to Sunday 15th after lunch at the charming Alma Lodge Hotel on the A6 in Stockport.  There are some spare programmes and booking forms here today.  A good number of people from around the country have booked but there are still places available for residential or non-residential.

Manchester Gilbert & Sullivan Society, meeting Sunday 6th March 2022

Dear Member/Supporter

A reminder that our next meeting will be a LIVE one this coming Sunday, 6th March at 2.30 pm at the usual venue, Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street, Manchester M2 1NL.  Paul Taylor will give a presentation on Gondoliers, taking us back to 1889 when it was first produced and showing us in words and images what happened at the time with musical excerpts on CD and live piano music and readings of other relevant material.  These presentations by Paul are well researched and always much enjoyed. 

REMEMBER also our Convention weekend May 13th to 15th at the Alma Lodge Hotel on the A6 in Stockport and not far from Stockport Station.  Enjoy G&S and chatting to other enthusiasts from Friday evening to Sunday lunch.  A good number of people from our Society and Norwich, London and Sussex Societies have booked but there are still plenty of places available.  Book as soon as possible and by April 1st.  If for some reason eg health problem you cannot commit yet but hope to come it would be most helpful if you let me know.  Programme and Booking form here with prices for full board for the weekend, either staying at the hotel each night or going home to your own bed.

Please note that on Sunday Manchester City Football Club will be playing Manchester United at City’s Ground, The Etihad Stadium, Ashton New Road, Manchester M11 3FF starting at 4.30 pm and due to finish at 6.15 pm.  Our meeting will finish at about 4.30 to 4.45 pm.  You may need to allow extra time to travel into Manchester as football fans do travel in long before the match starts, but we should get away from the area well before they finish at 6.15 pm.  So I hope that will not deter you from attending Paul’s afternoon.

Paul will be setting up the equipment for his presentation from about 1.00 pm, the earliest time there will be anyone at the Chapel to let him in.  If you arrive early please would you assemble and chat in the circular corridor until he has finished setting up, so he has peace and quiet to concentrate on that.  Pret a Mange café about 20 ft from the Chapel’s front door can be recommended for a hot drink or fruit juice and light refreshments.

Crosby G&S Society’s Yeomen with Peter Crichton as Fairfax and Sally Shaw in a principal role will be performed at Southport Little Theatre (near the station) from Wednesday March 16 to Friday 18th at 7.30 pm and on Saturday 19th at 2.30 pm.  Poster with booking details here.

Best wishes Jean Dufty