Saturday, May 28, 2011

Better Than Sex

By Ashley Lister (Guest Blogger)



There are not many things that could honestly be described as being better than sex. From what I can recall, sex is a sufficiently superlative experience so as to be mostly unsurpassed in the realm of pleasure. However, I’d argue that the opus of W S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan comes close to equalling the pleasures of sex. With some of their more accomplished works, a quality production of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera can even be better than sex.

I’m being serious. I can’t recall any sexual experience where, thirty years afterwards, I’m still whistling the tune of that particular experience, or smiling as I remember some of the wittier lyrics that were employed.

I mean: I’m good, but I’m not that good.

Yet Gilbert and Sullivan have given me that pleasure. They give that pleasure to all of us. More importantly, that pleasure has been available for a century and it’s as satisfying now as it was during the fin de si├Ęcle.

To illustrate this point, take Three Little Maids from School from The Mikado. If you’ve heard the tune once, Sullivan’s music is probably repeating itself through your head now.

Dee-ditty dee-ditty dee-dee-dee-dee, dee-ditty dee-ditty dee-dee-dee-dee...

How’s that for catchy? If you can remember the lyrics (and most aficionados can) it is genuinely one of those pieces that has you nodding your head and tapping your foot as you sing along. And what are we singing along to? We’re being entertained by the absurdity of idealised romantic feminine ambition pitted against the realities of life in Victorian England. In other words, we’re singing along to the musical comedy version of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

Or take the preposterously complex rhyme scheme of Modern Major General: the delightful patter song from Pirates of Penzance. I can enjoy some modern rap today – and there are other pieces of rap that fail to touch the cold interior of my hope-deprived soul. But there are few pieces that convey the humour, elegance and eloquence that W S Gilbert conveyed. To get anywhere close to Gilbert now we have to consider the work of Weird Al Yankovic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9qYF9DZPdw

And, even though Weird Al is good, his output is based on the milieu of the parody rather than the original.

Regardless of the topsy-turvey relationship that Gilbert and Sullivan were reputed to have enjoyed, their ability to produce music and lyrics that perfectly complemented one another is indisputable.

And it doesn’t surprise me that this subject is being discussed here at the Grip.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of catching up with my good friends and respected colleagues here at OGAG. I’m being sincere folks when I say, I genuinely miss you all.

One of the pleasures that came from writing alongside my fellow grippers was the knowledge that I was working with skilled authors and masters of the written word. And I suspect, if the tables were ever turned, Gilbert and Sullivan would have blogged respectfully in regards to the talents of the resident writers at Oh Get a Grip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCBxI9yKLgw&feature=related

Best,

Ash

10 comments:

  1. I have news for you, Ash.

    You ARE that good...!

    Welcome back to the Grip, and thanks for one of your characteristically witty and insightful posts.

    Hugs,
    Lisabet

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  2. Lisabet

    Thanks for the invite. It's always a pleasure to visit the Grip and catch up with old friends and new faces.

    Best,

    Ash

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  3. Ash - As always, you made me chuckle. "I'm good, but not that good."

    It's a pleasure to hear from you again.

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  4. Kathleen,

    It's a delight to hear you chuckling again ;-)

    Ash

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  5. It's so delightful to see you back here, Ash! And as Kathleen mentioned, making me laugh as usual. :) I've missed reading your loveliness every week (even as I've loved too reading the new Grippers that have taken up residence since your absence)—thanks for stopping back!

    Xoxo,
    Em

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  6. You're always entertaiing, Ashley. Thanks for visiting.

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  7. Em,

    I've genuinely missed the Grip these past few months and it's a joy to be a making a brief visit :-)

    Ash

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  8. Jean,

    Thank you. It's been an absolute pleasure.

    Ash

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  9. Hi Ash!

    I'm getting here late, I didn;t know you were here. Good to see you back in your old haunts. And thank you for the book review!

    Now I have to definately check out Gilbert and Sullivan.

    Garce

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  10. Garce,

    I really enjoyed the collection. A fantastic book to review.

    Best,

    Ash

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