Set sail on the high seas with Gilbert and Sullivan’s celebrated maritime blockbuster.
Set sail on the high seas with Gilbert and Sullivan’s celebrated maritime blockbuster. Beloved for its jaunty tunes, gleefully entertaining story and sassy satire, revel in the first-ever performances of HMS Pinafore presented by Arizona Opera! GRAMMY-nominated conductor Rob Fisher and acclaimed stage director Tara Faircloth make their Arizona Opera debuts in this effervescent production!
Ryan Thorn as Captain Corcoran in the 2010 Madison Savoyards production of H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert & Sullivan
“Robert Orth brought his wealth of experience to bear as the trainer, and he sang with real fire and commitment.” Opera Today
“Tonio, tenor David Portillo, scored high marks and high notes with ease, singing with a luxuriant warm glow that seduced the ear as he bounded about the stage with abandon.” –Opera News
“Curley’s wife, played with glittering coloratura and astute restraint by soprano Sara Gartland.” Opera News May 5th, 2012 Utah Opera
H.M.S. Pinafore is an opera in two acts by composer Sir Arthur Sullivan and lyricist Sir William S. Gilbert.
H.M.S. Pinafore premiered in London on May 25, 1878 at the Opéra-Comique.
The story takes place aboard the British ship H.M.S. Pinafore.
Some time before Act I begins, Ralph Rackstraw, an able seaman, has fallen in love with Josephine, the daughter of his commanding officer, Captain Corcoran. Likewise, Little Buttercup, a buxom peddler from Portsmouth, has fallen in love with the Captain himself. Class distinction stands in the way of both the Captain and Ralph reciprocating the affection of the ladies. The Captain has, in fact, been arranging a marriage between Josephine and Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is a class distinction above the Captain’s family.
The sailors of Her Majesty’s Ship Pinafore are merrily preparing for Sir Joseph’s inspection. Little Buttercup hints of a dark secret she is hiding, Dick Deadeye, a member of the crew is grumbling as usual, and Ralph is pining over Josephine. Sir Joseph appears, attended by an entourage of ladies, who are his relatives and who follow him everywhere, for no particular reason other than it allows for young women to join the story. Sir Joseph explains how he became Lord of the Admiralty. He examines the crew and encourages them to feel that they are everyone’s equal, except, of course, his. The men of the HMS Pinafore sing a rousing number that Sir Joseph himself has written for them to raise their spirits. Josephine finds Sir Joseph insufferable. Ralph pleads his love to her and finally threatens to kill himself – at which she agrees to elope. The Act I curtain falls with the sailors of the HMS Pinafore rejoicing at Ralph’s success – and Dick Deadeye croaking a warning that their hopes will be frustrated.
The scene opens with the Captain lamenting his daughter’s coldness toward Sir Joseph. Little Buttercup tries to console him, and says that all will turn out well. Sir Joseph enters and tells the Captain that Josephine has thoroughly discouraged him from pursuing her, and that he wants to call the match off. The Captain suggest that his daughter’s hesitation is due to her being of a lower class than Sir Joseph, and urges him to assure Josephine that social rank will not be considered a barrier to their marriage. Sir Joseph follows this advice, but Josephine applies his words to the class difference between her and Ralph. Sir Joseph believes she has accepted him, she is reaffirmed in her vow to Ralph, and everyone sings a happy song. Meanwhile, Dick Deadeye has told the Captain of Josephine’s and Ralph’s upcoming elopement. The Captain intercepts the lovers with the exclamation “Damne!” Unfortunately, Sir Joseph and his relatives hear him and are horrified at his swearing – Sir Joseph sends the Captain to his cabin in disgrace. And when Sir Joseph learns Ralph and Josephine are eloping, he orders Ralph put in irons. Little Buttercup now reveals her secret. Many years ago, she had charge of nursing and bringing up both Ralph and the Captain when they were babies – and, completely innocently, she got them mixed up – so the one they all know as Ralph should really be the Captain and the Captain should be an able seaman. This error is immediately rectified. The sudden reversal of class status of Ralph and the Captain removes Sir Joseph as a suitor for Josephine’s hand, and permits her to marry Ralph, and her father to marry Little Buttercup. Sir Joseph resigns himself to marrying his cousin Hebe – as all’s well that ends well.
Sir Joseph Porter (baritone) – The first lord of the Admiralty. He is elderly, very proper, very upright, very British. He is keenly aware of class distinction, and that none on the Pinafore are his equal in status.
Captain Corcoran (baritone) – A young man of presumed good stock who has a level of social status. He has arranged for his daughter Josephine to marry Sir Joseph.
Josephine (soprano) – Captain Corcoran’s daughter. A young woman, delightful, perky and spirited. She is madly in love with Ralph.
Ralph Rackstraw (tenor) – An able seaman of the Pinafore. He is the same age as the Captain. Courageous, valiant, handsome, well-liked. He is madly in love with Josephine.
Little Buttercup (mezzo) – The matronly maid who raised Ralph and the Captain. She holds an important secret which will be revealed at the end of the operetta.
Dick Deadeye (bass) – One of the able seamen of the Pinafore, he is the malcontent of the crew, always grumbling and seeking a chance to make trouble for someone. Not really evil, just grumpy.
|Stage Director||Tara Faircloth||n/a|
|Ralph Rackstraw||David Portillo||ALL|
|Sir Joseph Porter||Robert Orth||ALL|
|Captain Corcoran||Curt Olds||ALL|
|Little Buttercup||Susan Nicely||ALL|
|Dick Deadeye||Andrew Gray||ALL|
|Cousin Hebe||Beth Lytwynec||ALL|
GILBERT AND SULLIVAN
Gilbert and Sullivan; often referred to by their initials, G&S, William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Seymour Sullivan have left an indelible mark on the world of theater. This remarkable pairing created some of the greatest hits in operetta that are still regularly performed around the world; The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, to name a few.
William Schwenck Gilbert was born on November 18, 1836 in London, England to a retired naval surgeon and his wife. He spent much of his youth touring Europe with his family, returning to London in 1849. William began his education at the Great Ealing School and went on to King’s College. He entered into the legal profession although he had little success there. He did gain a thorough understanding of legal quirks that he later used in his biting satire.
William eventually left his legal career to pursue writing. In the early 1860s, he started illustrating comic verses, signing them “Bab”. They became known as the Bab Ballads. He began writing for theater including burlesque versions of popular bel canto operas and some original works. Even some of his Bab Ballads were used as plots for his larger theatrical works. His first professional play was Uncle Baby, performed in London in October 1863. Three years later, two of his burlesque pieces had moderate success and Gilbert became fairly well known.
In August 1867, Gilbert married Lucy Turner. Gilbert continued to work in burlesque but also branched out into a more “civilized” theater. In 1869, his first piece for the Gallery of Illustration was produced and met with some success. He wrote a total of six musical plays for the Gallery. Gilbert was also gaining some practical experience in stage direction. He started to direct his own plays that opened doors to him creatively. His first contact with Sullivan came as a collaborative Christmas play, Thespis, in 1871. 1871 was a tremendous year for Gilbert. Seven of his plays had their premieres, and he was writing constantly in many different genres including farces, fairy comedies, novel adaptations, etc. Eventually, Gilbert and Sullivan were drawn together again by the influential impresario, Richard D’Oyly Carte. D’Oyly Carte suggested Gilbert take his libretto for Trial by Jury to Arthur Sullivan. It was an immediate hit.
Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan was born on May 13, 1842 also in London, to the royal bandmaster and his wife. By the age of 8, Arthur could play most of the instruments in the band. After he finished his studies at a private school, Arthur received an appointment at the Chapel Royal. He then received the Mendelssohn scholarship and attended the Royal Academy of Music until 1858. Arthur left England to study at the Leipzig conservatory. Leipzig had a profound impact on the young composer. When he returned to England in 1862, he composed an orchestral suite to William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. After that premiere, Arthur found himself being hailed as the new hope of serious English music.
In 1866, the premiere of Arthur’s Symphony in E flat was a tremendous success. The next several years produced orchestral overtures, concertos, oratorios and several Christian hymns, including Onward, Christian Soldiers. He also held several positions in London including organist, conductor and the principal of the National Training School. In 1867, Arthur composed a one-act musical Cox and Box and a full-length musical work, The Contrabandista.
In 1871, Sullivan was introduced to Gilbert through singer Fred Clay. Thespis was the outcome of that initial meeting but it wasn’t until 1875 and the meeting with D’Oyly Carte that launched this successful pairing. Trial by Jury was an immediate success and led to further collaborations as well as the formation of the D’Oyly Carte comic opera company in 1876. In 1877, the G&S team created The Sorcerer, followed by H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), the latter running for almost two years to full houses. In 1879, a copyright dispute brought G&S to America along with their Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance that were huge hits in New York.
The 1880s were hugely successful with the pair. Their works of the period include Patience (1881), Iolanthe (1882), Princess Ida (1884), The Mikado (1885), Ruddigore (1887), The Yeomen of the Guard (1888) and The Gondoliers (1889). During the run of Patience, Arthur was knighted by Queen Victoria. In 1884, a most famous feud took place with Sullivan refusing to write anything more for D’Oyly Carte’s theater The Savoy. He left for a five week tour of Europe. Upon his return, both D’Oyly Carte and Gilbert tried to persuade him to continue his collaborations. Gilbert, initially insisting on a plot with a magic pill, finally came up with plot involving Japan. A Japanese sword hanging on the wall of his study crashed to the floor and that caught Gilbert’s attention. Gilbert had also been aware of the Japanese craze running in Knightsbridge. He came up with the plot that would become The Mikado and Sullivan agreed to compose the music.
After The Gondoliers, Gilbert and Sullivan had another parting of the ways over some of the expenses the Savoy Theater was incurring. At the time, the expenses of the theater were split equally amongst Gilbert, Sullivan and D’Oyly Carte. Apparently D’Oyly Carte purchased an extremely expensive carpet for the theater that Gilbert felt was unnecessary. Gilbert and D’Oyly Carte had words and ultimately Sullivan ended up siding with D’Oyly Carte.
After this split, both Gilbert and Sullivan explored other areas but neither was as successful as when they worked together. They had two attempts at reuniting and collaborating, but both failed to capture the audience that previous G&S works had. Sullivan went on to write an opera, Ivanhoe, and several operettas. Gilbert completed several plays including The Fortune Hunter (1897) and The Hooligan (1911).
Sullivan’s health went into decline at the turn of the century and became addicted to morphine to relieve his pain. Sir Arthur Sullivan died on November 22, 1900 in London. Neither of his closest friends, Gilbert and D’Oyly Carte, were with him when he died. Gilbert was out of town and read about Sullivan’s death in a newspaper, and D’Oyly Carte was too sick. A few months later, D’Oyly Carte passed away. Gilbert lived until 1911 when a swimming accident took his life.