The Sorcerer is a Savoy opera created by William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. This comical yet less-known piece has been brought back by Charles Court Opera directed by John Savournin. The plot based on love potion is inspired by Donizetti’s frequently performed piece, L'elisir d'amore. The Sorcerer follows a matrimonial ceremony of a young couple, Alexis (Robin Bailey) and Aline (Ellie Neate). Alexis, inspired by his own affection for his bride, decided to spread the power of love by poisoning the villagers with a love potion concocted by a sorcerer. Alexis’s plan does not eventuate as expected. 


The Sorcerer is the very best of English charm – the witty English libretto, lovely pink tea house, eggs, ham and strawberry jam. The performance was also impressive. Robin Bailey in Alexs boasts incredible projection in his bright rich tone and Cartrine Kirkman in Lady Sangazure flaunts exceptional articulation in every pace. The cast is accompanied by David Eaton on piano who fills the music hall with delightful staccatos and dynamics. The outstanding performance in vocal and expression carries the work with energy despite a somewhat indelicate story arc which is slow to build but quick to finish. 


A more contemporary direction on the opera would have been interesting, particularly in light of the increasing criticism of anachronistic view expressed in Gilbert and Sullivan opera. The retro feel of the production is sweet, especially the costume by Lucy Fowler, but it was an opportunity lost that could have granted the work more relevance and dynamism. The brilliance of Sullivan’s wit, however, proves to be timeless when performed by the talented cast, particularly Meriel Cunningham in Constance who made the very best out of the humour of the work. The English opera scene is no short of outstanding performers but perhaps a contemporary vision and imagination–but again, nothing a sweet love potion in a pink teapot cannot solve. 


Produced by Charles Court Opera, at Wilton’s Music Hall from 11 - 15 June 2024 and Touring until 18 August


Review: Sam Lee