Two Great Discs.
D. W. Casey | Sturbridge, MA United States | 11/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This two disc set pairs two operas that are historically at very different periods in the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire. Trial by Jury is usually viewed as the first Gilbert and Sullivan opera (because Thespis was lost to history); Yeomen of the Guard is a later opera. One can only conclude that they are on the same disc because of space; Yeomen is not quite long enough for two complete discs, so the one act Trial by Jury is added in to fill the second disc. Nevertheless, the operas are complementary because they are so different -- Yeomen of the Guard is generally considered the least satirical, most "realistic" G&S opera (if such a thing is even possible!), while Trial by Jury is perhaps the most farcical. So on one set of discs you get both extremes. At any rate, Yeomen of the Guard is my personal favorite G&S opera, beating out even the Mikado, and this performance is outstanding in all respects. Richard Suart is in both operas, as the fool, Jack Point, in Yeomen, and as the Judge in Trial by Jury, and he does a superb job in both roles. He has the perfect clarity and diction one needs as a G&S performer, a great comic voice. A great purchase for someone who has the more well known operas (the Mikado, Pinafore, Pirates) and who loves Gilbert and Sullivan. The Yeomen of the Guard has some of Sullivan's best music in it, G&S fans who have not heard it are often surprised how excellent it truly is."
Gilbert & Sullivan at its VERY best!
Paul A. Gerard | Australia | 06/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Yeomen of the Guard" was the nearest thing G&S came to writing a "serious" opera. Sullivan was fed up with the typical "topsy-turvy" Gilbert plot - and for once got a (fairly) sensible one instead. No gimmicks (for once) - just a funny, romantic little play - with a hint of sentimental pathos.
From the lovely little "folk" duet "I have a song" - to the noble aria of courage and resignation in the face of death "Is life a boon" - both lyrics and music are of a the highest possible standard. This IS still "just" operetta - but it rates artistically with any grand opera I can think of offhand.
Sullivan tried hard, in his serious opera "Ivanhoe", to write "the" great English romantic opera. As someone said - his mistake was that he had already done so - in "Yeomen".
The performances on this recording are outstanding - avoiding the "comic" exaggeration the characterisation sometimes receives. More than in any other G&S operetta the characters are real people - and it is nice to have them played so straight - although very little of the spoken dialogue is included.
What we get instead of dialogue, or "bonus" recordings of deleted songs, is a perfect recording of G&S's very first successful collaboration - "Trial by Jury" - a little one act piece taking off English court procedure. It is, incidentally, technically NOT an operetta, as there is no spoken dialogue at all - unlike all later G&S, every word is sung!
Gilbert was called to the bar himself when young, and the humour is very apt - the bufoonery is none the less rather broad for a Victorian piece - in fact there is a good deal more sexual innuendo in this one than Gilbert ever allowed himself again. It was written as a curtain raiser for an Offenbach piece, which is probably how he got away with it here.
The highlights are the judge's song "When I, good friends, was called to the bar" the first and one of the best of G&S's "patter songs", and "You cannot eat breakfast all day" - a charming little hymn to male fickleness.
For any fan of G&S who has NOT heard "Trial by Jury" before, this is alone well worth the price of the album. With the very best available recording of Yeomen as well it is an absolute must."