The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison Savoyards’ production — with paid singers — of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers” opens this coming Friday night and runs through Aug. 7 | July 26, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following press release to share:

The Madison Savoyards presents The Gondoliers (or The King of Barataria) by Gilbert and Sullivan (below), starting this Friday night, July 29, at 7:30 p.m. and running through Sunday, Aug. 7, at Music Hall, at the base of Bascom Hill on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

There will be six performances: Friday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, July 31, at 3 p.m.; Friday, August 5, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 6, at 7:30 pm; Sunday, Aug. 7, at 3 p.m. UW-Madison conducting student Kyle Knox will make his Madison Savoyards debut as Music Director for The Gondoliers. 

Gilbert and Sullivan (left)

Gilbert and Sullivan fans will not want to miss this tale of romantic complication, silliness and wonderful music, set in beautiful 18th-century Italy.

The story opens with a conundrum. Casilda, the young daughter of the Duke of Plaza-Toro, has arrived in Venice to meet her future husband, the prince of Barataria.

Upon arrival, however, she finds that his identity is in question. As an infant, the young prince was entrusted to a drunken gondolier, who promptly mixed up the baby with his own son.

Thus, in the wake of the king’s recent death, both gondolier brothers must jointly rule the kingdom until the prince’s nurse can be brought in to correctly identify him.

To further complicate the matter, both gondoliers have recently married their loves, and Casilda is, in fact, in love with another man. The story plays out and eventually resolves in typical Gilbert and Sullivan fashion, with hilarious circumstances intertwined with poignant, relatable moments.

Stage Director Audrey Lauren Wax has her artistic eye on the set design to help bring this story to life. “I am truly excited to work with a functional Gondola in this production,” says Wax, who most recently directed Princess Ida with the Savoyards in 2014.

“Our design and stage management team have gone above and beyond discussing and collaborating on the logistics of it.” Wax says. “I do think the audience will be quite pleased and excited the moment it hits the stage. And in the fashion of my directing approach, it has been designed with the idea of a puzzle in mind. You’ll just have to see the show in order to see this fabulous creation.”

Puzzle-like stage pieces aside, no Gilbert and Sullivan show would be complete without the trademark hummable tunes and patter songs, and The Gondoliers does not disappoint in either realm. You can hear a sample in the YouTube video at the bottom.

In a historic move for the Savoyards, all roles and some chorus positions will be paid. This has drawn a larger mix of current students and recent grads from University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College, as well as local youth and adult performers.

One such local favorite is Bill Rosholt, playing the Duke of Plaza-Toro in his 11th principal role with the Savoyards. Anmol Gupta appears with Rosholt as Luiz, the Duke’s assistant, and UW-Madison graduate student Becky Buechel (below) portrays the Duchess of Plaza-Toro, along with Deanna Martinez as her daughter, Casilda.

Savoyards Gondoliers Becky Buechel

Christopher Smith (below) and Brian Schneider play the handsome gondoliers Marco and Giuseppe, flanked by Gavin Waid (Antonio), Nicholas Kaplewski (Francesco), Coltan Bratland (Giorgio), and Sara Wojtak (Annibale) as the brothers’ Venetian gondolier friends.

Savoyards Gondoliers Christopher Smith

Contadine (peasant farmers) Gianetta and Tessa are portrayed by Lauren Welch (below) and Alaina Carlson, and Julia Ludwiczack plays all three contadine Fiametta, Giulia and Vittoria.

Savoyards Gondoliers Lauren Welch

Natalie Falconer portrays Inez, the King’s Foster-mother, and the cast is rounded out by a chorus of Gondoliers, Men-at-Arms, Heralds, Pages, and Contadine from the greater Madison area.

Tickets for The Gondoliers are $30 and $40, and can be purchased through the Campus Arts Ticketing Box Office, by phone at (608) 265-ARTS, or online at

The Children’s Pre-Show is Sunday, August 7 from 1 to 2 p.m., and is free for any ticket holder age six to 12. Limited spots are available, so please contact Krystal Lonsdale at to reserve a space for your child.

For more information about the opera and the production, visit:

The Madison Savoyards, Ltd. has been presenting Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas for 53 years and strives to make each presentation come alive by knowing and respecting the special gifts of the authors and gathering a gifted and enthusiastic cast and crew.

The Savoyards first presented “The Gondoliers” in 1974, and most recently in 2003.


  1. The Stanford University Savoyards web site indicates:

    “We are proud to be one of the 45 amateur groups in the United States dedicated primarily to presenting the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Other colleges and universities with companies that perform Gilbert and Sullivan almost exclusively include Yale, Harvard, MIT, University of Michigan, Brown, and Rice.”


    Comment by fflambeau — July 26, 2016 @ 2:56 am

  2. Maybe I missed the link? But here it is anyways:

    Their web site announces the following ( including the news that Kyle Knox will conduct the performance):

    “The Gondoliers

    The 2016 production will be The Gondoliers. There will be six performances at Music Hall: Friday, July 29 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, July 30 at 7:30 pm; Sunday, July 31 at 3:00 pm; Friday, August 5 at 7:30 pm; Saturday, August 6 at 7:30 pm; Sunday, August 7 at 3:00 pm. We welcome Kyle Knox who makes his Madison Savoyards debut as Music Director for The Gondoliers. Audrey Wax, who directed Princess Ida returns as Stage Director.”

    Here is some more background info on the Madison Savoyards:

    “The Madison Savoyards began in 1963 with a production of Iolanthe with an orchestra. Believing the common practice of community groups at the time, using a piano, did not do full justice to Sullivan’s score, MSL was founded on the principle of providing an authentic production of Gilbert & Sullivans masterpieces. It began, and remains, a company with no permanent staff, no office, a dedicated band of volunteers, a skilled and committed band of performers, musicians, production staff, and crew. All of this has been supported consistently and generously by contributors. That, and an audience that regularly fills the theater for productions combined with careful management of finances, has keep the Savoyards in the black.

    We strive to present productions that would make both Gilbert and Sullivan proud. We avoid trying to “improve” as some companies are prone to do, most often with unfortunate results. By trying to understand the intent of the authors, we allow the text and score to shine. Our productions are not stiff, cold museum pieces. Quite the contrary. We feel when we “do it right”, the result feels as fresh and new as if it is the first performance and the humor is current.

    Thus is the glory of Gilbert & Sullivan. The object of the humor is human nature itself, which never grows old. And the music is one of the treasures of human kind.

    We look forward to seeing you in the theater.”


    What is a Savoyard? As far as I can tell, it refers to “light opera”. “The Savoyard” was also a magazine produced by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, a professional light opera company that staged Gilbert and Sullivan’s Savoy operas nearly year-round in the UK and sometimes toured in Europe, North America and elsewhere, from the 1870s until 1982. They performed mostly at the Savoy Theatre.

    But I’m not an expert so maybe someone can tell us more about the Madison name?


    Comment by fflambeau — July 26, 2016 @ 2:46 am

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