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(libretto) (as William S. Gilbert)
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Richard Alexander ...
John Bolton-Wood ...
Roxane Hislop ...
David Hobson ...
Colette Mann ...
Tiffany Speight ...
Josephine
Anthony Warlow ...
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classical | opera | See All (2) »

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Musical

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18 December 2005 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Opera Australia: H.M.S. Pinafore  »

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Polished Pinafore
18 November 2006 | by See all my reviews

It is, or should be, easy to create a fetching production when you have such matchless material as Gilbert & Sullivan's 'HMS Pinafore' to work with. This Australian production, which has received rave reviews, is good but falls short of being excellent.

It starts out well with a fine overture and a decent opening number. The first sign of imperfection comes with Buttercup. In terms of appearance and acting skills Colette Mann is quite good as a character type, but her voice is too deep (and a mite nasal), which is not quite right, although it was probably a conscious decision, intended as part and parcel of the character's satirical nature.

It is, of course, difficult to get everything right in the same show - the voices, the delivery, the stage production -, and tastes will of course vary. My opinion of this DVD is that all but a few of the songs lacked that extra oomph that would have done them true justice. And the production itself, visually speaking, was polished to the point of blandness. Everything so tight-fitting, squeaky clean and clear-cut; almost spartan. I longed for a slightly more classical look - a bit dirtier, perhaps -, with looser, more florid costumes.

Of the main characters I really liked Tiffany Speight (certainly the classiest and all-round most impressive member of the cast) and David Hobson. They had the good looks and the proper voices. I was less taken with Anthony Warlow and esp. John Bolton-Wood, whose deliveries of their respective songs, in my estimation, did not approach excellence. Sir Joseph is arguably the single most important character, and any given production tends to revolve around whoever has his part.

So this production receives from me a 8 out of 10 rating. It's very good, but not as good as it might have been.

Edit: I have seen this DVD several times now, and have gained an increasing appreciation of it. It is in fact splendid, delightful and stylish, and I hereby emend my rating from an 8 to a 9.

New edit: I have come to realize now that, for some reason, good versions of Pinafore are extremely rare, and this means that, all things considered, this production actually qualifies for a 10 out of 10. It is almost certainly the best production filmed, and perhaps also the best ever recorded.


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