Gilbert and Sullivan favourite Iolanthe blends experience and youth, age and beauty at Frazer Theatre

Donald Stephenson and Alexandra Mather will star in Iolanthe at the Frazer
Donald Stephenson and Alexandra Mather will star in Iolanthe at the Frazer

Youth and experience join forces when Harrogate Gilbert and Sullivan Society visits the Frazer Theatre, Knaresborough with the Gilbert and Sullivan classic comic-opera, Iolanthe.

Baritone and former Welsh National Opera star Donald Stephenson and 21-year-old soprano Alexandra Mather, starting out on her operatic career, are two of the principals performing in one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s favourite works, loved equally for its humour and beautiful music.

While Donald, who plays the comic figure of the Early of Mountararat, has performed around the world in starring roles in operas by Wagner, Mozart and Verdi, Alexandra Mather, who plays the title role of Iolanthe, has been accepted with the Glyndebourne Opera company at its summer academy.

“I’m really excited to have been accepted by the Glyndebourne Academy, excited that I will be performing on the Glyndebourne stage and hopefully it could be a stepping stone to a career in opera," said Alexandra.

She says Iolanthe will be a fantastic show and she is learning a lot from Donald, as well as fellow cast members. “It is really valuable to have the opportunity to play Iolanthe at Knaresborough. Harrogate G&S Society have been so supportive, and I have learned so much, especially from Donald. It’s great to work with an ex- professional and with people who are performing G&S opera to such a high standard.”

Donald, who has been a principal with Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera and Opera North says it is great to be part of a company which combines young and old. “Alexandra has done very well. It’s a great training ground Glyndebourne. I did three operas there over three seasons, and she will learn a huge amount because they train you extremely well, particularly in dialogue and musicianship.”

One of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most popular comic-operas, with the emphasis firmly on the comical, Iolanthe is being staged at Frazer Theatre, Knaresborough from Thursday May 9 to Saturday May 11 with performances daily at 7.30pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Iolanthe is Gilbert & Sullivan at their sublime and satirical best and the world of politics and the world of fairy-tales collide in an irreverent and topical send-up of the House of Lords, set to some of the most beautiful music ever written by Sir Arthur Sullivan.

Tickets for the show are £12 , available online at www.frazertheatre.co.uk/events, from Pear Records, 24 High St, Knaresborough or by calling 01765 676561 or 07788 875526.