Scottish Opera - HMS Pinafore - Limelight

A dazzling comic opera still going strong after 135 years.

The fourth of Gilbert and Sullivan's remarkable operettas was HMS Pinafore, almost stillborn due to a heatwave that kept the public out of the stifling theatre in 1878. It was eventually saved by Sullivan playing excerpts at some prom concerts and the rest is history.

This recording is from a concert performance made in August 2015 at the Edinburgh is good to have a fresh take. Instead of dialogue, for example, Tim Brooke-Taylor provides the narrative and droll comments between the numbers.

Andrew Foster-Williams' Captain Corcoran is strong, if a little strained at times. Elizabeth Watts brings to Josephine a bit more spunk than is usual; this character can sometimes be a bit wet and she makes much of her splendid second act aria. Neal Davies is an excellent Dick Deadeye. As the hero, Ralph, Toby Spence is equally effective. John Mark Ainsley's Sir Joseph is far too mannered for me. Conductor Richard Egarr keeps the music moving; Pinafore almost conducts itself unless you get in the way.

As an aside, there are many reasons why these operettas have proved such useful school shows: the music is bright and melodic with excellent harmonies; Gilbert provides a wide door to richer and wittier language than most children ever experience. You don't get many of those qualities in a rock show. 

21 October 2016