MUSIC CAPSULES : 'GONDOLIERS'

Robert Willoughby Jones led members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Sinfonia Orchestra and guest soloists in a lively, partially staged production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Gondoliers" on Saturday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Costumes, particularly for the principals, were lavish and bright. Staging, thanks to Alistair Donkin, a former member of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, was fluid and clever, if occasionally marred by distracting side business.

In an apparent departure from past practice, floor mikes were used; nonetheless, both speech and song were hard to make out.

The Venetian principals included a finely focused yet sometimes shrill Evelyn de la Rosa as Gianetta, a mellifluous Stephanie Vlahos (Tessa), a gallant Jonathan Mack (Marco), and a heroic John Matthews (Giuseppe).

The Spanish forces ran a wide gamut of mismatched accents and acting styles. Donkin brought clipped English delivery to an arch portrayal of the Duke of Plaza-Toro. Nancy Fontana, his duchess, proved muddy in enunciation and very reliant upon physical comedy.

As Casilda, Alison England sang with superfluous operatic breadth but acted appealingly. Stephen Amerson (Luiz) sang sweetly but seemed unconcerned with the plot.

Michael Gallup virtually stole the show, deftly acting and singing a lecherous Don Alhambra.Members of the chorale sang splendidly from risers diagonally framing a central stage area.

Jones conducted with buoyant, stylish energy but without doing full justice to the lyric aspects of the score.

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