Search - Gilbert & Sullivan - H.M.S. Pinafore / Trial By Jury - David Hobson, Anthony Warlow, Colette Mann, Tiffany Speight, John Bolton Wood, Richard Alexander, Opera Australia, State Theatre, The Arts Centre Melbourne on DVD
For most of the 20th century, the D?Oyly Carte Opera performed HMS Pinafore with a companion piece, Trial by Jury. Opera Australia re-unites these long-standing stage-mates with two fresh productions and an inspired cast. ... more » While HMS Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan?s first full-length satirical work and first major international success, Trial by Jury was their first collaboration - the show's outrageous antics made it the toast of London. In this filmed recording, Anthony Warlow, Australia?s musical theatre superstar, is at the helm as both the "right good captain" and the "good judge" too. He is joined by a stellar cast featuring David Hobson, John Bolton Wood and Colette Mann as "dear little Buttercup". Featuring: Anthony Warlow, David Hobson, Colette Mann, Tiffany Speight, John Bolton Wood, Richard Alexander, Opera Australia Melbourne Chorus, Orchestra Victoria.« less
"When I saw that a DVD with "Trial By Jury" was coming out, that was all I needed to buy it. My last recording of it had been an ancient LP. With the advent of home theater, I was determined to wait for a DVD version of it that would provide the visual to go with the audible, as well as provide the connecting narrative parts as well at least in the case of H.M.S. Pinafore.
What I've gotten with this DVD is a wondrous delight. The live performances of both of these works was made before a gigantic crowd, which was there to enjoy Gilbert and Sullivan. Well, it's quite evident that the audience enjoyed both performances fully, and I can testify that this viewer was also well pleased.
Both performances are just fun! The cast has fun, the audience has fun and I believe that viewers of this DVD will have just as much fun.
By and large, the singers look convincing in their rolls. Their voices and their appearances complement each other, and contribute to the effectiveness of the whole.
As I mentioned, I purchased this DVD because it had "Trial By Jury". I really didn't want another copy of "H.M.S. Pinafore". I'm happy to report that this new version of Pinafore will probably become my favorite. It is well done in all regards.
I can recommend the addition of this DVD to the collection of anyone who loves the works of Gilbert and Sullivan; especially if you have also been looking for a DVD of "Trial By Jury"."
Sparkling G&S signals a new era in Australian opera
Cameo | 06/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since their earliest days at Sydney's iconic Opera House, Opera Australia (formerly The Australian Opera) has had a tradition of filming important productions for television broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, with later sale on VHS, which preserved many outstanding performances for posterity, including a number of appearances by Dame Joan Sutherland dating from the mid-seventies up to the night of her retirement in October 1990. Unfortunately, this longstanding arrangement - which relied on commercial sponsorship - came to an end in 1997, with the filming of an updated version of Die Fledermaus, and left an operatic vacuum which continued until 2005, when a new era began with the filming of the traditional Gilbert & Sullivan double-bill HMS Pinafore and Trial by Jury, which was both televised and released on DVD. By a happy coincidence, the star of the last VHS - Anthony Warlow - also featured in the first of the new DVDs, along with Australia's leading tenor David Hobson, who had the distinction of appearing on the very first opera DVD in 1998, when Baz Luhrmann's legendary version of La Boheme was released in the new format.
Unlike an earlier Opera Australia attempt at making G&S 'topical' - which rather spoiled an otherwise fine production of The Gondoliers - director Stuart Maunder's HMS Pinafore and Trial by Jury have had no more than one or two words altered to a 21st century equivalent, and should meet with the approval of most G&S enthusiasts.
Pinafore has been gently updated to the Edwardian era, which still gave designer Roger Kirk plenty of scope for eye-catching and pretty costumes for the ladies. However, when it came to the crew he was somewhat restricted by the Royal Navy Dress Code of the day, but all - with the obvious scruffy exception of Dick Deadeye (Richard Alexander) - scrubbed up well and Ralph Rackstraw (David Hobson), living up to his reputation as the smartest lad in all the Fleet, looked particularly dashing. Anthony Warlow made a fine Captain Corcoran, although not having a great deal to do for a while after his famous entrance as the well-bred captain of the Pinafore, since Sir Joseph Porter, KBE (John Bolton-Wood), various crew members and visitors, etc., and the young lovers Ralph and Josephine (Tiffany Speight) dominated Act I. However Warlow had a lot more of the action in Act II, with a solo, two duets and a trio proving he was in good voice. David Hobson, too, had ample opportunity to demonstrate why he's regarded as the country's finest tenor, both in solos, duets with the lovely Miss Speight, and ensembles - he even got an all-too-brief chance to remind us of his dancing skills. Opera Australia stalwart John Bolton-Wood was faultless as the First Lord of the Admiralty, and he too managed a few nimble dance steps at the end of his introductory aria 'When I was a lad ...'! Unfortunately, Little Buttercup - traditionally a contralto role - was badly miscast, and actress Colette Mann's limited singing ability and raucus style caused one critic to remark that her character appeared to have wandered into the wrong opera! Never mind, she's not on stage all the time, but it was such a pity in an otherwise perfect production.
Trial by Jury is visually updated to the max - a couple of place names and a wealthy family's name being the only noticable adjustments to the libretto - and is an absolute riot, which can't be adequately described but has to be seen. David Hobson not only sang well, but gave full rein to his flair for comedy as Edwin, the Defendant, while Anthony Warlow was unrecognisable but brilliant in the character role of The Learned Judge, whose entrance - literally through the audience - is almost the highlight of the short opera. Having been present at several performances, including the filming, I don't think I'll ever again hear the music that accompanies 'All rise, and be upstanding!' without chuckling, if not laughing outright!!
Splendid modern production of HMS Pinfore and Trial By Jury.
dooby | 08/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with all the laudatory reviews here. This is a delightful production of Gilbert & Sullivan's favourite double-bill, H.M.S. Pinafore & Trial By Jury. It comes from Opera Australia and was recorded live over 3 nights in May 2005 at the Arts Centre in Melbourne, Victoria. The soloists are universally outstanding and they are superbly backed by the Melbourne Chorus and Orchestra Victoria. The production received almost unaninmous praise and here one can see why. The performances are scintillating and are guaranteed to bring a smile to the face, have you tapping and swaying to the music and eventually singing along.
Both productions have been updated. In the case of HMS Pinafore from the Victorian to Edwardian era. However, the original lyrics are scrupulously adhered to and in "Monarch of the Sea," Sir Joseph Porter (John Bolton-Wood) and the cast in all their Edwardian finery, still refer to his being the "Ruler of the Queen's Navee." The updates are never obtrusive and are always pleasing to the eye. The costumes are beautiful and the sets are handsome. Trial by Jury has been similarly updated but to the present day. The English crown court looks regal with its wood-panelled chambers, robed judges and bewigged lawyers.
My only reservation, like the previous reviewer, was the choice of Collette Mann as Little Buttercup. She's a fine comedienne but her choice of singing style is curious to say the least. Little Buttercup's song was always one of my favourites in Pinafore and I'm used to hearing it sung in a beautiful lilting voice. Ms Mann's deliberately coarse raspy delivery, doubtless to emphasise the lowly status of her character, was not what I was expecting of this sweet ballad. But that's a small point set against the general excellence of this production.
Kultur Video has a spotty reputation with foreign recordings. But this time they have done creditably well. Granted there are no extras, not even such basic things as subtitles. But at least they gave us a disc with excellent picture quality. The DVD is in 1.78:1 widescreen (anamorphic) with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, although there is not much use of the lower frequencies. The Region 2 "Opus Arte" release comes with optional English subtitles but has only Dolby 2.0 Stereo and is more expensive. The original Australian, Region 4 edition comes with DD 5.1 but is also without subtitles. Both the R2 and R4 discs are in PAL format, good or bad depending on whether you have a PAL compatible player and display - The video was originally shot on PAL so PAL discs would have no problems with format conversion (PAL to NTSC) and also PAL has the advantage of higher picture resolution (576 vs 480). The Aussie version is available from the official ABCshop website (Australian Broadcasting Corp) but it'll cost more with the additional postage. So you make the choice. The Kultur version with its excellent picture quality is fine enough for me."
Very Good Pinafore, Superb Trial By Jury
OpDVDfan | Cape Breton | 07/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly the finest Pinafore and Trial By Jury on DVD with great singing, acting, choreography and sets and filmed in widescreen Dolby Digital 5.1 to boot. The transfer to DVD is extremely sharp, and I watch it on a 100' screen. I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful well sung Pinafore, But Trial By Jury takes Gilbert and Sullivan to another level alltogether. In addition to the wonderful singing and acting from the major characters right down to the minor ones, it has a manic, "Alice in Wonderland" like quality that is totally enchanting. Ali McGregor as Angelina the plaintiff will take your breath away with her acting and singing. She steals the show which is no mean feat when up against such fine performers as Anthony Warlow and Dave Hobson.
Unfortunately, Kultur has seen fit to release this with no English subtitles. So what else is new? But when I checked the Opus Arte web site, they've released the same DVD in the UK with English subtitles. I hope Kultur will begin to realize that English subtitles are really necessary even though the singing is in English. Choral singing particularly is difficult to understand without some help.
Hopefully Opera Australia will release more of their G&S performances on DVD over here. And give us more of Ali McGregor!
Meanwhile if you're a Gilbert and Sullivan fan you'll love this DVD. If you're new to Gilbert and Sullivan, this is the place to start.
With regard to the review by Dooby, OpusArte does make available an NTSC All Region version of the DVD with subtitles, but, oddly enough, no Dolby Digital 5.1, only stereo. So North Americans have a choice of 5.1 Dolby Digital and no subtitles or subtitles with only stereo. It's too bad we can't have both."
Good--but it could and should have been much better
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 09/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"SOURCE: Live 2005 performances recorded at The State Theatre, The Arts Centre, Melbourne. From a remark by an earlier Amazon reviewer, I gather that the DVD version offered was assembled from portions of three separate performances. I have yet to spot any obvious joins.
SOUND: Barely adequate stereo. The soloists are plainly wearing microphones on headsets throughout the performance. Their voices register very clearly, in fact, too clearly where Colette Mann is concerned. By comparison, the chorus registers poorly in many places. In "Trial by Jury," the women's chorus is particularly hard to pick out, almost disappearing from time to time. The wonderfully concerted "A Nice Dilemma" becomes, in effect, an ensemble of soloists. The orchestra comes through acceptably, but without any particular brilliance.
CASTS: HMS PINAFORE The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B, a very non-nautical First Lord of the Admiralty - John Bolton Wood (baritone) Captain Corcoran - Anthony Warlow (baritone) Ralph Rackstraw, Able Seaman - David Hobson (tenor) Dick Deadeye, Able Seaman - Richard Alexander (bass) Bill Bobstay, Boatswain's Mate - Andrew Jones (baritone) Bob Becket, Carpenter's Mate - Unidentified (bass) Josephine, the Captain's daughter - Tiffany Speight (soprano) Hebe, Sir Joseph's First Cousin - Roxane Hislop (mezzo-soprano) Little Buttercup, a bumboat woman - Colette Mann (fingernails scratching across a blackboard). TRIAL BY JURY The Learned Judge - Anthony Warlow The Plaintiff - Ali McGregor (soprano) The Defendent - David Hobson Counsel for the Plaintiff - John Bolton Wood Usher - Richard Alexander Foreman of the Jury - Andrew Jones.
DIRECTION: STAGE Traditional and straightforward, although the Captain is subjected to an unconscionable amount of buffeting from the sailors. VIDEO Atrocious. Jerky, skittish, full of unnecessary motion and subject to annoying cuts to the orchestra and reverse shots of the audience from the stage.
CONDUCTOR: Andrew Greene with the Orchestra Victoria and Melbourne Chorus.
SETS: HMS PINAFORE Initially a locker room within the ship which transforms into the stern of the ship for Buttercup's entrance. After that it becomes a deck of the ship with multiple performing levels on the superstructure. HMS Pinafore is now a pre-Dreadnaught battleship of the type which became wholly obsolete just before World War I. TRIAL BY JURY Very traditional appearing, wood-paneled, English court room. Jury box on stage left. Spectators on right. A sort of cage from which the Defendant testifies at center, just in front of the judge's bench.
COSTUMES: HMS PINAFORE The Captain, Josephine, Sir Joseph, Hebe and the women's chorus are in the fashion of 1911-1912. The other ranks sailors are left back in the 1870s and look rather anachronistic. TRIAL BY JURY Contemporary business attire.
COMMENTARY: This DVD pairing of "HMS Pinafore, or The Lass that Loved a Sailor," with the much shorter "Trial by Jury" has much to recommend it, as well as some truly annoying missteps.
The best thing, by far, is the presence of Anthony Warlow as Captain Corcoran of the Pinafore and later as the Learned Judge in "Trial." In the Australian musical theater, when it comes to Broadway musicals, "Les Miserables" or the current "Phantom of the Opera," Warlow is the go-to guy. As Captain Corcoran he displays a fine, light baritone voice supported by a technique so sound that for all appearances he can ignore it while he concentrates on providing a performance. In "Trial," on the other hand, he looks and sounds three decades older, singing with an old man's quavering voice, filtering everything through a very respectable Scottish accent. Why he felt it necessary to go through all that bother, I can't say, but having decided to do so, he does it extremely well. Not only can the man act and sing, he also moves with the sure-footed physicality of a Gene Kelly or Cary Grant.
The worst thing, by far, is the presence of Colette Mann as Little Buttercup. She does not appear in "Trial," a happy deliverance for which we can gratefully thank a benevolent providence. I might say that she is unattractive, unpleasant, untalented, off-putting and distasteful--but she isn't really that good. She is an something between and anchor and an albatross weighing down the production. To get some idea of her, imagine Cyndi Lauper singing Isolde--except that Mann isn't half as good as Cyndi.
The other members of the "Pinafore" cast are OK, but they could be better. --John Bolton Wood offers a traditional, not especially memorable version of Sir Joseph. --Richard Alexander misses the character of Dick Deadeye completely, reducing him to a mere naysayer with no special physical attributes except an odd taste in hats. --Andrew Jones, in a small part, has an extraordinarily fine baritone voice but he (or the director) does nothing with the character, leaving him a mere cipher. --Much has been made of David Hobson as Australia's leading tenor. He sings very nicely. But there is little or no warmth in the man. He looks and moves well enough, but he hardly interacts with others, seldom making eye contact, even with Josephine. The exact opposite of Warlow, he seems more intent on vocal technique than on the meaning of his words. --Tiffany Speight also sings extremely well, but her Josephine is not a degree warmer than Hobson's Ralph.
An icy pair of lovers, an unmemorable lead comedian, a pallid villain and an atrocious Buttercup--small wonder that this "Pinafore" seems of, for and about Captain Corcoran. And even that is undermined by the conductor, who treats everything as up-tempo. His headlong pace simply mangles the Captain's "Fair Moon, to Thee I Sing"--a real pity, considering the quality of the singer.
In "Trial by Jury," the lackluster Wood and Alexander of Pinafore suddenly come to life to look and sound like real stars. Jones remains as impressively good, but he is still trapped in a tiny part. Ali McGregor, as the Plaintiff, is an even colder performer than Speight. Hobson's Defendant is a complete and charmless bounder. True to form, the conductor takes every single number too fast, here especially trampling on "Comes the Broken Flower."
Four stars (which would have dropped to one star if Colette Mann had uttered one more syllable), primarily for the rare appearance of "Trial by Jury" on DVD.