OP3057. H.M.S. PINAFORE (Gilbert & Sullivan), recorded 1930, w. Sargent Cond. D'Oyly Carte Ensemble; Lytton, Baker, Fancourt, Granville, etc.; TRIAL BY JURY, recorded 1927, w. Norris Cond. D'Oyly Carte Ensemble; Sheffield, Lawson, Oldham, Baker, etc. 2-Arabesque Z8052. Final copy! - 0263635080520
“H.M.S. PINAFORE, or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, on 25 May 1878 and ran for 571 performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time. H.M.S. PINAFORE was Gilbert and Sullivan's fourth operatic collaboration and their first international sensation.
The story takes place aboard the ship HMS Pinafore. The captain's daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lower-class sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, although her father intends her to marry Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. She abides by her father's wishes at first, but Sir Joseph's advocacy of the equality of humankind encourages Ralph and Josephine to overturn conventional social order. They declare their love for each other and eventually plan to elope. The captain discovers this plan, but, as in many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise disclosure changes things dramatically near the end of the story.
Drawing on several of his earlier ‘Bab Ballad’ poems, Gilbert imbued this plot with mirth and silliness. The opera's humour focuses on love between members of different social classes and lampoons the British class system in general. PINAFORE also pokes good-natured fun at patriotism, party politics, the Royal Navy, and the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority. The title of the piece comically applies the name of a garment for girls and women, a pinafore, to the fearsome symbol of a naval warship.
PINAFORE's extraordinary popularity in Britain, America and elsewhere was followed by the similar success of a series of Gilbert and Sullivan works, including THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE and THE MIKADO. Their works, later known as the Savoy operas, dominated the musical stage on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a decade and continue to be performed today. The structure and style of these operas, particularly PINAFORE, were much copied and contributed significantly to the development of modern musical theatre.”
- 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.”