It was a beautiful evening, not particularly warm but dry and there was a really good audience and everyone got into the G & S spirit!
The programme contained songs and excerpts from every Gilbert and Sullivan opera with some well-acted interludes, as well. I particularly enjoyed the songs from Ruddigore and The Grand Duke as well as a wonderful selection of songs from The Mikado to end the evening.
The Hall was home to Mary Fitton, the possible Dark Lady of Shakespeare's Sonnets. In Gawsworth church there is a painted monument of the Fittons, in which Anne and Mary are represented kneeling behind their mother. It is stated that from what remains of the colouring Mary was a dark woman and this adds strength to the argument that she was indeed the Dark Lady.
In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name;
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on Nature's power,
Fairing the foul with Art's false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland'ring creation with a false esteem:
Yet so they mourn becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says beauty should look so.
There is also a great deal of evidence to support the theory that Mary Fitton had been slandered, having given birth to the bastard son of the Earl of Pembroke. When one remembers the penalties that lay in store for anyone induging in sexual conduct with one of the Queen’s Maids of Honour – imprisonment and expulsion from the Court – concealment was a device of great value.
Anyway, the evening has a big success and speculation about the Dark Lady provided additional interest! Now we're ready for Buxton and more G&S!