Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Gilbert Sullivan - Patience / Hammond-Stroud Fryatt Collins Opera World|
Actors: Donald Adams, Derek Hammond-Stroud, John Fryatt, Sandra Dugdale, Anne Collins
Director: Dave Heather
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
Featuring the london symphony orchestra and a host of international stars including vincent price joel gray peter marshall keith mitchell frankie howerd and peter allen. Filmed in england and created especially for tv they... more »
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Kevin Orlin Johnson | Dallas, TX United States | 09/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In discussing this BBC/PBS series--conceived to take all of Gilbert and Sullivan and get it over with--many reviewers fault the diction of the casts, but the obscurity is not their fault. The sound is simply not up to basic professional standards. The orchestral music, naturally offstage, is all very well; but, tragically, in this series, whenever anybody turns his head, takes a step either side, or stays where he is when somebody else walks away, he may as well be talking into a barrel. Or singing into one, which of course is even more disappointing.
Patience at least is presented straight on, without the kind of directorial meddling that afflicts the others in the series. If you, Mr. Director, think your own talent so far superior to Gilbert's that you can change his words; if you, Ms. Producer, think his dramatic sense so inferior to your own that his operas cannot stand unless you present them in modern dress, or as a play-within-a-play or something--then go and write your own opera, and leave his alone.
We don't love you. We love Gilbert. We love Sullivan. We paid to see and hear them. Not you. Not you.
As to the casts. Most of the series features the incomparable Anne Collins and the--well, the incomparable Sandra Dugdale, with too few appearances by the celestial (and of course incomparable) Nan Christie. These ladies combine the perfect roster of gifts for G&S: they have voices of operatic caliber, they can act well enough to get by on acting alone if the bottom ever falls out of the opera business, and more important they have the brains and the wit to understand what they're saying. Most important of all, I have fallen hopelessly in love with each of them severally and cannot choose among them. But anyway.
The male casts are never nearly so strong, owing to the productorial mandate to book stars, because who'd watch Gilbert and Sullivan unless some television star who's never heard of Gilbert and Sullivan were stuck into a leading role? Well, any of the millions worldwide who love Gilbert and Sullivan, that's who. The rest may be attracted, but they will not be converted, by the stars' performances here, which stand out like knotholes on a jewelry box.
Frank Gorshin, whatever his remarkable gifts, was not made to play King Gama; William Conrad, beloved William Conrad adored for his ready wit and his distinctive bass-baritone, was yet not quite fitted up to stand in for the Mikado. Here, Derek Hammond-Stroud is simply too--what's the word--too elderly for Bunthorne; his casting, predicated it seems solely on his star power, necessitated the parallel casting of the coeval John Fryatt as his rival in love. Didn't work. The best-fitted talents, whether we'd heard of them or not, were what was wanted here.
And of course Bunthorne must be a man who can drop the swish and, as they say, play it straight. The Duke and the other Heavy Dragoons aren't supposed to be pipsqueaks: they're Heavy Dragoons on purpose, to stand in strongest contrast to the long-haired aesthete. This is precisely the point of Bunthorne's Bride, a point that cannot be minced too fine; but it is precisely the point that escapes those in charge of the present production.
These are the trials, alas, that provoke the viewer throughout this series. Still, this is one of the few recordings of this perennially relevant opera of celebrity that you'll find, so buy it and have Patience.
Not actually awful, but absolutely not the version to choose
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 08/25/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"SOURCE: This "Patience" is one of the "complete" series of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas made by producer Brent Walker for the BBC in 1982-83. "Patience" was shot over a two-week schedule in 1983. Four G&S collaborations were omitted from the series. The score of their first work, "Thespis," has been lost. The last two collaborations, "Utopia Ltd" and "The Grand Duke" were then still regarded as failures and not worth the cost and bother of mounting them. The other collaboration was "The Martyr of Antioch," a perfectly serious, even ponderous oratorio that was much admired by the Victorians, but for all intents and purposes forgotten since then.
SOUND: Minimally acceptable stereo of somewhat limited dynamic range.
CAST: Patience, a village milkmaid - Sandra Dugdale (soprano); Reginald Bunthorne, a fleshly poet - Derek Hammond-Stroud (baritone); Archibald Grosvenor, poet and apostle of simplicity - John Fryatt (baritone); Colonel Calverley, of the 35th Dragoon Guards - Donald Adams (bass-baritone); Major Murgatroyd - Roderick Kennedy (baritone); Lieutenant, the Duke of Dunstable - Terry Jenkins (tenor); Lady Angela - Shirley Chapman (soprano); Lady Jane - Anne Collins (contralto); Lady Saphir - Shelagh Squires (mezzo-soprano); Lady Ella - Patricia Hay (soprano).
CONDUCTOR: Alexander Faris with the Ambrosian Opera Chorus and the London Symphony Orchestra.
COMMENTARY: This 1983 British television version of "Patience" is in head-to-head competition with the 1995 version from the Australian Opera. It loses, and the match isn't even close.
Both productions are based on the 1967 production of the English National Opera, sharing costume designs and many bits of stage business alike. The ENO production was traditional, sumptuous and successful--both in the UK and across the Atlantic in New York and elsewhere. It is a pity that no one filmed that version.
The Australian Opera version begins with an enormous advantage. It is a live performance before a large and appreciative audience. Gilbert and Sullivan were creatures of the live stage. Their creations thrive there, and there only. The English version, produced by Brent Walker, impaled on a sound stage and separated from any real audience, positively withers.
The AO Chorus, for example, consists of real singers who are obviously working at their singing. Brent Walker used the Ambrosian Chorus to pre-record their material. The photogenic on-stage choruses in his productions are pretty evidently ringers, that is, they are lithe and mobile dancers pretending to be singing. In opera, even in G&S comic opera, there are exceptions, of course, but it is a reliable rule of thumb to assume that singers don't dance very well and dancers sing even worse.
The Brent Walker productions also suffer from being lumbered with introductions and comments from Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Dreadful stuff! Absolutely mind-numbing.
In one respect only is the Brent Walker "Patience" superior to its AO counterpart: the part of Colonel Calverley is played by Donald Adams. Adams was a fixture and star of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company (the production company founded by Gilbert, Sullivan and their producer Richard D'Oyly Carte) during its last days of glory before being shut down by the penny-pinching Thatcher government. His AO counterpart, John Germain, while perfectly adequate, is not in the same league.
It is with the casting of the rival poets, Bunthorne and Grosvenor, that the balance tips irretrievably in favor of the Australian Opera. The AO's Dennis Olsen and Anthony Warlow are a brilliant pair of singing and dancing actors. Brent Walker's Hammond-Stroud and Fryatt are simply superannuated. Considering that the play centers upon youthful stardom and adoring groupies, the casting of those two far-from-young men is inexplicable.
If this "Patience" were the only choice, I would say the quality of the words and music outweighs the problem with the cast. But there is a rival, so I say forget this one and snap up the Australian Opera version."
Would have been 1 star without Anne Collins
teklah | the Desert Southwest | 09/20/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Skip it. It falls on its own flat feet. Get the brilliant Douglas/Olsen/Warlow Australian Opera production instead. It's a live on-stage performance and hysterically perfect!"
John Sloan | Bowling Green, OH United States | 03/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I knew absolutely nothing about aestheticism before I saw this, I got a general idea of what it was about upon seeing it. But you don't have to know about aestheticism to enjoy this. The music is wonderful as well as the cast. The only weak spot in the cast is the Duke (I forget the actor's name) who has a very annoying speaking voice during his dialogue scenes. To make up for that, however, he has quite a powerful and beautiful tenor singing voice. Highly recommended."