Search - Arthur Sullivan, Isidore Godfrey, Royston Nash :: The Complete Gilbert & Sullivan (Box Set)

The Complete Gilbert & Sullivan (Box Set)
Arthur Sullivan, Isidore Godfrey, Royston Nash
The Complete Gilbert & Sullivan (Box Set)
Genre: Classical
 

      
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Wonderful set, if a little inconsistent at times.
Yi-Peng | Singapore | 07/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you thought that the Sargent set of G&S opera recordings was gargantum enough, then this D'Oyly Carte cycle is even more gargantum. Although it is more expensive (because of the four extra operas that the Sargent cycle did not include), this complete 24-CD set is like a joy to behold. There is a debate as to whether this is better than the Sargent cycle, but I like to think that this is a delight from first disc to last, because of the idiomatic sense of polish that these recordings seem to have, and are given a life that makes them able to breathe well. This is all thanks to Isidore Godfrey and Royston Nash's conducting. I know that the performances may not be entirely consistent (this is evident when you compare the performance and recording quality of Mikado and Pirates with those of Gondoliers and Pinafore), but this is only a matter of personal preference. The 1960s performances were given more sumptuous and well-detailed recordings than the 1970s recordings, made when the performing style was not so fresh. But anyway, I still think that this is definitely a good buy for anyone who loves G&S. Even with the consistency of Sargent's cheaper EMI set, I would still say: do go ahead to invest in the set because of the liveliness and style in this complete G&S cycle that Sargent never (hardly ever) tackles. The only thing is: I would also like to suggest complementing it with the 1957 Decca D'Oyly Carte recordings of Mikado and Pirates, recently released by the Sounds on CD label, so that these recordings can do justice to the enormous spirit of these operas."
Don't underestimate those "unknown" Operettas!!
Paul A. Gerard | Australia | 07/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is, as far as I know - the only way of buying the "official" recordings of "The Grand Duke" and "Utopia" - which seem to be otherwise out of print!! Several of the others are not that easy to get either.

In any case - most people getting this set will already have the Mikado, and very probably Pirates and Pinafore for that matter, so you're really getting it for the others.

So just for the record - someone has to say this!

The Mikado is (of course) a wonderful piece, but it enjoys its long running status as the most successful of all the G&S operettas very largely for "extra-musical" reasons. It is visually so wonderful, with all those great authentic costumes, and the whole idea of satirising English institutions by pretending they are Japanese is of course brilliantly funny.

Again, Pirates and Pinafore enjoy a lot of their acclaim simply because we have heard them so often. And at least part of the initial success of these (admittedly very funny and entertaining) pieces was the vogue for "nautical drama" on the popular Victorian stage.

Iolanthe, Ruddigore, and Yoemen are all MUCH stronger musically than any of what another reviewer here keeps calling the "trilogy". Patience, Princess Ida, and the Gondoliers all excel either "nautical" operetta, at least musically, although not, perhaps, the Mikado. And I have had a lot of fun listening to my recording of the Sorcerer - although I think most at least of the other G&S operettas are even more interesting.

As for "Trial by Jury" it is really another thing altogether - but in its kind the most perfect thing either Gilbert or Sullivan had anything to do with!

This leaves Utopia and the Grand Duke.

Both of these were produced after the long running friendship between G&S had soured, and they have been sadly neglected ever since. Utopia is none the less both musically beautiful and very funny, and well worth taking an effort to come to grips with. The main point of the satire (which many commentators and reviewers seem to miss) is the way that the English language and British (especially English) institutions were being adopted, often rather uncritically, by countries around the world (most, but not all, of them members of the British Empire, of course). India is perhaps the country Gilbert had most in mind, but you could set it in any of a dozen other countries. The residual problems this has left in the post-colonial world ensure that this work is still far from dated. In some ways this operetta is about globalisation! What could possibly be LESS dated than that!

The Grand Duke, on the other hand, is a bit of an odd man out - I suppose you still have to say it is the weakest of all the G&S efforts. It's the ONLY one that didn't score a very respectable run on its first outing. Surprisingly, however, if an attempt is made to duplicate the musical and (especially) dialogue cuts that G&S would have done themselves if they had not by this time been at each other's throats all the time, a very entertaining piece can be made of it. I was very agreeably surprised by the Ohio Light Opera recording, which does just that - and I am coming round to the idea that the only thing really wrong with the Duke is that it is too long.

ANYWAY:

For all people (especially callow youth) who remain convinced that G&S only wrote three operettas worth listening to - all I can say is, buy this set, and give the lesser known ones a chance. Make sure you have a libretto in your hands as you listen, of course. It may even just need a single hearing in some cases, but otherwise, be patient. In the meantime, you really cannot have any conception of what you are missing."
A few details
Paul A. Gerard | 03/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This 24-CD album consists of 12 plastic cases, each with a thin booklet giving background and plot summaries for the works on its 2 enclosed CD's. Most of the album consists of 15 operettas, 2 of which (Cox and Box, The Zoo) have texts not by Gilbert and 7 of which (The Sorcerer, Princess Ida, The Mikado, Ruddigore, Yeomen of the Guard, Utopia Limited, The Grand Duke) omit most of the spoken dialogue. Before listening to any of these operettas that you don't know well, you'll want to obtain a copy of its text so you can read along and not miss any of the words or the wit."