‘Lost’ comic opera then classic theatre tunes

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A COMIC opera, once lost for almost a century, will be staged at the Riverhead Theatre in Louth.

The New London Opera Group bring their eighth annual spring concert to the venue this Saturday, March 5.

The first half of the programme will be a staged performance of Arthur Sullivan’s one-act comic opera, The Zoo.

Written in 1875, to a libretto by Bolton Rowe, The Zoo was presumed lost for almost a century until being unearthed and performed in the 1960s.

It was subsequently recorded by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and is now recognized as a little gem, alongside Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury and Burnand and Sullivan’s Cox and Box.

The Zoo is a charming romantic comedy set in London Zoo.

It tells the story of the hapless romance between Aesculapius Carboy, a poor-but-honest chemist, and Laetitia, daughter of the hard-hearted grocer, Mr Grinder.

At the same time, Eliza Smith, the proprietor of the refreshment stall, is being hotly wooed by the down-at-heel Tom Brown. But Tom is hiding an important secret under his shabby coat.

The opera is full of hilarious misunderstandings, disguises and plot twists, and inspired Sullivan to write music of great wit and charm, often parodying grand opera and even quoting Rule Britannia at one point.

A cast of five singers will give a complete staged performance, without chorus, and with piano accompaniment by popular regular pianist Paul Guinery.

After the interval, the cast will present a concert of excerpts from operas by Gilbert and Sullivan; fascinating blend of well-loved favourites and interesting novelties.

The company will return to Louth in June, with HMS Pinafore.

Tickets for The Zoo cost £9 each and are available from the box office on 01507 600350.