Utopian dream is of Paramount importance

Gilbert and Sullivan's Utopia is given the New London Opera Group treatment at Louth's Riverhead Theatre this month.
Gilbert and Sullivan's Utopia is given the New London Opera Group treatment at Louth's Riverhead Theatre this month.
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GILBERT and Sullivan’s penultimate opera Utopia Limited is brought to the stage by the New London Opera Group, who make a welcome return to the area this month.

The group will give three performances of this rarely-performed opera at Louth’s Riverhead Theatre on June 14, 15 and 16 at 7.30pm.

The tropical island of Utopia is ruled over by King Paramount, who, although in theory absolute, is really controlled by two unscrupulous wise men, Scaphio and Phantis, who threaten to denounce him to Tarara, the public exploder, if he resists them.

They also force the king to edit a scandalous newspaper, The Palace Peeper, full of scurrilous rumours about his conduct.

However, help is at hand: the king’s eldest daughter, Princess Zara, has been educated in England and returns, bringing with her six representatives of English institutions who re-model Utopia on English lines – including floating the country as a limited company. This allows King Paramount to defy Scaphio and Phantis. The wise men are furious and plot with Tarara to overthrow him.

Utopia Limited, first performed in 1893, marked Gilbert and Sullivan’s reconciliation after their bitter ‘carpet quarrel’ that had seen the partners facing each other across a court room.

By contrast, the new opera was written in an almost unprecedented spirit of co-operation and harmony.

There are many gems to enjoy in the opera, from grand marches and fiendish patter, to a cheeky duet for the twin princesses and a sparkling minstrel number – complete with onstage instruments.

Tickets cost £12 and are available from the box office on 01507 600350.

For more information log on to www.louthplaygoers.co.uk .