OP3079. THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD; TRIAL BY JURY (both Gilbert & Sullivan), recorded 1995, w.Mackerras Cond. Welsh National Opera Ensemble; Maynard, Archer, Stuart, Point, Rebecca Evans, Barry Banks, Garrett, Savidge, Rhys-Davies, etc. 2-Telarc 80404, w.Elaborate 67pp Librtetto-Brochure. Final copy. - 089408040429
“THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, or, The Merryman and His Maid, is a Savoy Opera, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert which premiered at the Savoy Theatre on 3 October 1888, and ran for 423 performances. This was the eleventh collaboration of fourteen between Gilbert and Sullivan.
The opera is set in the Tower of London, during the 16th century, and is the darkest, and perhaps most emotionally engaging, of the Savoy Operas, ending with a broken-hearted main character and two very reluctant engagements, rather than the usual numerous marriages. The libretto does contain considerable humour, including a lot of pun-laden one-liners, but Gilbert's trademark satire and topsy-turvy plot complications are subdued in comparison with the other Gilbert and Sullivan operas. The dialogue, though in prose, is quasi-Shakespearian, or early modern English, in style.
Critics considered the score to be Sullivan's finest, including its overture, which is in sonata form, rather than being written as a sequential pot-pourri of tunes from the opera, as in most of the other Gilbert and Sullivan overtures. This was the first Savoy Opera to use Sullivan's larger orchestra, including a second bassoon and third trombone. Most of Sullivan's subsequent operas, including those not composed with Gilbert as librettist, use this larger orchestra.”
- Hans Lick
“Can you sue someone for breaking off an engagement? In Gilbert and Sullivan’s courtroom farce TRIAL BY JURY, it’s a very serious crime! The story concerns a ‘breach of promise of marriage’ lawsuit in which the judge and legal system are the objects of lighthearted satire. Gilbert based the libretto of TRIAL BY JURY on an operetta parody that he had written in 1868.
The fickle and bigoted defendant, Edwin, has fallen in love with another woman and has jilted the plaintiff, the beautiful Angelina. Unfortunately for Edwin, all of the members of the jury (and the judge) have fallen for Angelina themselves. Edwin proposes that in order to solve the conflict, he ‘marry this lady today and the other tomorrow’, which, naturally, Angelina objects to
Ultimately, the resolution that pleases everyone is for the judge to marry Angelina himself! This delightfully ludicrous one-act was initially written as a companion piece to Offenbach’s comic opera LA PÉRICHOLE, but quickly outran it in popularity and critical praise. It is often performed as a double or triple bill with other comic pieces, but it just as often performed alone. Hailed by theatre scholar Kurt Gänzl as ‘probably the most successful British one-act operetta of all time’, TRIAL BY JURY is a bite-sized portion of Gilbert and Sullivan’s signature witty lyrics, catchy tunes, and ridiculous plotlines.
As with most Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the plot of TRIAL BY JURY is ludicrous, but the characters behave as if the events were perfectly reasonable. This narrative technique blunts some of the pointed barbs aimed at hypocrisy, especially of those in authority, and the sometimes base motives of supposedly respectable people and institutions. These themes became favourites of Gilbert through the rest of his collaborations with Sullivan. Critics and audiences praised how well Sullivan's witty and good-humoured music complemented Gilbert's satire. The success of TRIAL BY JURY launched the famous series of 13 collaborative works between Gilbert and Sullivan that came to be known as the Savoy Operas.
A note on dialogue: Unlike most Gilbert and Sullivan shows, there is no spoken dialogue in TRIAL BY JURY.”