Customer Reviews


44 Reviews
5 star:
 (15)
4 star:
 (21)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


136 of 138 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An opportunity missed ...
First of all, there is a lot to be grateful for; all the major works (with the exception of "Utopia Limited" and "The Grand Duke"), the stagings are, for the most part at any rate, traditional, production values are generally high and the casts contain some of the leading British opera singers of recent times. There is no comparable series of recordings and most others...
Published on 23 July 2010 by M. Joyce

versus
70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars History
As I worked on this series, you may be interested in some of the history. The first five operas (Pirates, Pinafore, Gondoliers, Iolanthe and Mikado) were shot at Twickenham Studios on reel-to-reel videotape at a time when the audio quality on videotape was not good, and there were a lot of problems with the sound. As the operettas were shot out-of-sequence like a film,...
Published on 4 Jan. 2012 by G. A. Bainbridge


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

136 of 138 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An opportunity missed ..., 23 July 2010
By 
M. Joyce (Cairo, Egypt) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
First of all, there is a lot to be grateful for; all the major works (with the exception of "Utopia Limited" and "The Grand Duke"), the stagings are, for the most part at any rate, traditional, production values are generally high and the casts contain some of the leading British opera singers of recent times. There is no comparable series of recordings and most others are records of specific productions, in the main captured "live." At under £4 per DVD, this represents a tremendous bargain. So why do I regard the series with a sense of regret? Well, the sound quality is not of the finest and one or two "fluffs" suggest haste in recording. My major grievances, however, concern the regrettable omission of some musical items and some "stunt" casting. The films were made, it appears, primarily for American television and all have been "trimmed" to fit an allotted time-span. This entails the excision of certain numbers, which not only robs the viewer of expected musical delights, but also has a detrimental effect on continuity. (Not all of the operas suffer in this regard, but the cuts to "Yeomen" are particularly grievous). It is even more galling that time is wasted on each disc by unbelievably cheesy introductions by Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; their omission would have at least allowed the reinstatement of a couple of numbers. What is more, I suspect that these had actually been recorded and as evidence I would offer the casting of appropriately voiced singers in parts that are here bereft of their music. The "stunt" casting is, presumably, for the (American) TV market. The fact that some of these performers are themselves American does not in itself offend, it is simply that, with a couple of honourable exceptions, they are at best ill-suited and at worst embarrassing; the parts could have been cast to better advantage with "straight" singers who act and sing so delightfully elsewhere in the series. What a pity, as this collection could have been well nigh definitive. As it is, it is very much a missed opportunity, enjoyable as many of the films are.
I will review the operas individually in the order they were first performed.
COX AND BOX (*****)
This is wholly delightful. All three performers sing and act especially well and Thomas Lawlor in particular is very funny as Bouncer.
TRIAL BY JURY (****)
Ironically, this is actually padded out by the inclusion of the Di Ballo overture. Kate Flowers and (especially) Ryland Davies (luxury casting!) sing well as the Plaintiff and the Defendant, Roger Bryson is a sonorous Usher and Brian Donlan makes much of little as the Foreman of the Jury. On the debit side, however, Tom McDonnell is an over-emphatic Counsel and although Frankie Howerd does, of course, have his moments as the Judge, including a choice intervention in "A nice dilemma," he is not up to the part vocally, even though he actually sings more of the notes than he does in "HMS Pinafore." A "proper" singer would have been better; as it is, it becomes the Frankie Howerd Show and spoils what could have been a perfect production.
THE SORCERER (****)
This is pretty good as well. There are no grievous cuts and for once the non-operatic performers, Clive Revill and David Kernan can be counted as an almost total success, the former in particular giving a marvellous portrayal of the title role. The rest of the cast sing and act well and it is especially welcome to encounter the great Savoyard Donald Adams, this time as Sir Marmaduke.
HMS PINAFORE (**)
The wonderful Della Jones as Little Buttercup notwithstanding, this is just about capsized by the participation of the two "guest stars." Frankie Howerd is, well, Frankie Howerd and as such is always entertaining, but he stumbles through Sir Joseph's words and music, while the antics of Peter Marshall, an American game-show host apparently, are simply embarrassing, much as he seems to enjoy himself. The romantic leads are dull, but Alan Watt is an appropriately villainous Deadeye and Gordon Sandison makes a great deal of the Bosun; a pity that he had not been cast as the Captain!
THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE (***)
Another one almost spoilt, I'm afraid, by "celeb" casting. Keith Michell is fine as the Major General, but Peter Allen (one of Liza Minnelli's ex-husbands) offers a Pirate King from a wholly different, inappropriate tradition, camp and excessively "Broadway" in approach. This is a pity, as the romantic leads sing well and we have the redoubtable Gillian Knight as Ruth. Paul Hudson is a lacklustre Sergeant of Police.
PATIENCE (****)
This is very good and all the better for being based on a real production (Sadlers Wells/ENO) which I saw when I was at school and which featured many of the performers here. Derek Hammond-Stroud and the late, great Anne Collins make a wonderful double act as Bunthorne and Lady Jane, while Sandra Dugdale is a delectable (and very funny) Patience. John Fryatt is, perhaps, a little long in the tooth to play Grosvenor, but he too is very funny and sings well, while the military men are in the capable hands of the incomparable Donald Adams, Roderick Kennedy and Terry Jenkins, an hilarious Duke. A joy from beginning to end.
IOLANTHE (****)
Another film which benefits from being cast entirely with opera singers. Derek Hammond-Stroud is an exemplary Lord Chancellor, well supported by David Hillman and Thomas Helmsley, even though the latter at this stage of his career no longer commanded the required resonance for "When Britain really ruled the waves." Kate Flowers is a charming Phyllis and Alexander Oliver an amusing (tenor) Strephon. Richard Van Allan is luxury casting as Private Willis and Anne Collins, as ever, makes her mark as the Fairy Queen. Most enjoyable.
PRINCESS IDA (***)
The film takes the form of a performance of the opera in the grounds of a country house, but is otherwise pretty traditional and quite effective. The casting of the American actor and impressionist Frank Gorshin as King Gama does not detract too much from the pleasure, even if he offers no special insights. Nan Christie sings well in the title role and the other female singers do well, as do Lawrence Dale, Bernard Dickerson and Richard Jackson as Hilarion, Cyril and Florian. That fine singer Neil Howlett is a resonant King Hildebrand, but the role of Arac is seriously undercast.
THE MIKADO (****)
This is an enjoyably traditional production with attractive, well-sung romantic leads and a marvellous comic performance by Clive Revill as Ko Ko, a role he had recorded with distinction for Sadlers Wells some years previously. He is abetted by the splendid Anne Collins as Katisha. The other "non-singer," William Conrad as the Mikado, is nothing special, but does no real harm, while Gordon Sandison is very funny as Pish Tush and Stafford Dean's is the best sung of all Pooh Bahs.
RUDDIGORE (****)
This is great and only some dodgy back projection and a couple of cuts prevent this from being a 5-star production. For once, the "celeb" casting pays off. Keith Michell revels in both incarnations of Robin Oakapple/Sir Ruthven and sings all the notes. Vincent Price is inspired casting as Sir Despard; he isn't much of a singer, of course (although he does make an effort), but it would be hard to imagine the part better played and with such élan. The other parts are splendidly cast too; Sandra Dugdale sings and acts wonderfully as Rose Maybud, as do Ann Howard and Johanna Peters as Mad Margaret and Dame Hannah, while it is good to encounter the young John Treleavan (now an eminent Wagnerian) as Dick Dauntless. If this were not enough, we have the added bonus of Donald Adams in one of his best roles, offering us a marvellous "When the night wind howls." A treat.
THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD (**)
This is all but ruined by the omission (see above) of several crucial musical items. David Hillman's fine Colonel Fairfax suffers particularly in this regard. The "straight" singers all give exemplary performances; this is indeed casting from strength. Elizabeth Gale is a lovely Elsie, Claire Powell a spirited Phoebe and Elizabeth Bainbridge and Geoffrey Chard are perfect as Dame Carruthers and Sergeant Meryll. Of the "non-singers, " Joel Gray may not be to everyone's taste, but he is nevertheless a moving Jack Point, while it seems churlish to describe Alfred Marks as a "non-singer," as he fields a voice of operatic quality and acts magnificently as Shadbolt; he is the best exponent of the part on any of the recorded media. If this film exists in a complete form, it would be well worth searching out.
THE GONDOLIERS (***)
There's nothing seriously wrong with this, but somehow it never seems to catch fire. Keith Michell is miscast as Don Alhambra, but otherwise it is cast from strength, right down to the very smallest parts. Francis Egerton and Tom McDonnell are not my ideal pairing as the two gondoliers, but I have fond memories of John Brecknock and Thomas Allen on a BBC production in the 70s, which I would love to see issued on DVD....
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars History, 4 Jan. 2012
By 
G. A. Bainbridge "Gary" (Chelmsford U.K.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
As I worked on this series, you may be interested in some of the history. The first five operas (Pirates, Pinafore, Gondoliers, Iolanthe and Mikado) were shot at Twickenham Studios on reel-to-reel videotape at a time when the audio quality on videotape was not good, and there were a lot of problems with the sound. As the operettas were shot out-of-sequence like a film, but with live singing rather than prerecorded, there were hundreds of edits and editing stereo sound on videotape in the early 80s was crude to say the least. For the later series, shot some 18 months later at Shepperton, the sound was far more sophisticated and the masters existed on 24 track tape.

The original videotapes (referred to as gold masters) were complete with the missing songs that others have commented on. They were then cut down for US transmission which is when songs like 'Rapture Rapture' from Yeomen hit the editing room floor. That was also when the dreadful Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. intros were added. As I said, the audio quality on one-inch videotape was by no means perfect and a lot of quality was lost at this stage and even more at subsequent generations. Pirates and Pinafore were later remixed from the original tapes, but as far as I am aware, only for release on laserdisc in Japan.

It is a great pity that the producers of theses DVDs didn't go back to the gold masters (if they still exist) and the original 24-track tapes to remaster the audio.

G.B.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


533 of 545 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Re visiting after 20 years, 21 Nov. 2004
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
This is a remarkable achievement in many ways. The Brent Walker Organisation announced these recordings back in the early 80's and for a time it was intended to film the stage presentations of the old D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. However, with yet another refusal by the Arts Council to inject funds into that organisation, the company had to disband and George Walker had to re-think.

12 operas are presented, the 11 Gilbert and Sullivan works from TRIAL BY JURY (1875) to GONDOLIERS (1889)plus Burnand and Sullivan's COX AND BOX, sadly UTOPIA and GRAND DUKE were missed out. At the heart of these films is Alexander Faris (himself a guest conductor at D'Oyly Carte from time to time) and he undoubtedly draws some magnificent performances from the London Symphony Orchestra and the Ambrosian Opera Chorus. These performances are all the more enjoyable now as the digital re-mastering has not only enhanced the magnificent picture quality, but has provided the soundtracks in three different stereo formats.

The one real sadness of the series is the production of YEOMEN. Not only do the producers advance the action to the time of Charles I (making the costumes for the Yeomen themselves rather less spectacular), but there are numerous cuts; Phoebe loses the 1st verse of her opening number, the act one trio and Fairfax's ballad are both missing, Fairfax's act two ballad, "Strange Adventure", "When a wooer goes a-wooing", and "Rapture, rapture" are absent. The excuse for this was that the piece needed to run no longer than two hours for the purposes of television broadcast, and yet when it was first broadcast on the BBC, much of the missing material was present. Strange too that, although not the longest of the works, none of the other operas in the series suffer cuts of a similar magnitude.

On the plus side, the DVD version of RUDDIGORE includes much material that was actually cut from the VHS tape. This has the effect of making the opera virtually complete in terms of the standard Norris/Toye version of the work that was current at the time of filming. There is in fact only one cut - the second verse of the madrigal "When the buds are blossoming".

Some of the productions that seemed unacceptable in 1982, now are quite charming. Once you get past some of the so-called "star" performers. Frankie Howerd is dreadful as Sir Joseph (PINAFORE) but quite charming as the Learned Judge (TRIAL). The production of PRINCESS IDA seems now quite delightful as a play within a play and even Frank Gorshin as King Gama is really quite acceptable, whilst the musical production now fully revealed, is stunning, although it has to be said that the lack of Lady Blanche's "Come mighty must" has to be regarded as a black mark.

The gems of this series have to be COX AND BOX (presented in its full-length 1866/7 version), THE SORCERER and PATIENCE (the latter taken almost entirely from the English National Opera production. Ex-D'Oyly Carte performer Donald Adams makes an invaluable contribution to SORCERER, PATIENCE and RUDDIGORE. It is a pity that his MIKADO was not preserved, but William Conrad (Cannon) gives a surprisingly good performance in the role.

Sadly, no attempt has been made to credit singers who were missed in the credits on the sleves of the original tapes. For example, I still don't know who plays the Notary in SORCERER or Tolloller in IOLANTHE.

Each DVD comes with a copy of the 'production' libretto, missing out the dialogue but giving the lyrics, although it is not wise to rely too heavily on these as certainly as far as RUDDIGORE is concerned the lyric for "I shipped d'ye see" is missing, whilst the number itself is performed. One is able to skip the dreadful (and often inaccurate and embarrassingly patronising) introductions by Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, there are bonus features about the making of some of the films, picture galleries, and the ability on each DVD to play the musical numbers as if they were a CD, allowing you to hear the music in the new glorious stereo without the dialogue or the picture.

All in all, twenty years on, this series comes into its own. Anyone who owns the original VHS tapes, I would urge you to ditch them and buy this set to replace them. After all, it is currently the only way to own 11 Gilbert and Sullivan Operas and COX AND BOX on film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A second look!, 14 July 2007
By 
Dave L (Bristol UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
I agree with much the previous reviewer wrote, On first viewing this series I was a little dissappointed, having in memory the (vocal) renditions of earlier, familiar, artists. However, after replaying the discs a time or two, one begins to warm to the unfamiliar casts and, in general, the result is an enjoyable voyage into the "Topsy-Turvey" world of Gilbert and Sullivan!

One has, I feel, to be a fan of Frankie Howerd to appreciate his performances, especially as Sir Joseph in Pinafore, which, for me at least, was the the poorest of the set. Otherwise, with a couple of viewings (via a pair of headphones, preferably!) I find the compendium most enjoyable! June 2007.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They tried hard with G & S, 7 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
The boxed set of DVDs is certainly in the front rank when it comes to the lavishness of the scenes which would be very difficult to replicate in all but the most high-tech theatres. I would have liked to given an extra star but I thought that there was some mis-casting, particularly with Frankie Howard in HMS Pinafore. I first saw this many years ago and I thought then (as now), he was totally wrong in the part of 'the ruler of the Queen's navee'! However, he was slightly less out of place in 'Trial by Jury'. However, there were some 'stars' you probably wouldn't associate with G&S, who didn't do too badly.
It is a pity that some songs were omitted, but a new-comer to the operas probably wouldn't notice. Some aspects were given a bit too modern treatment e.g. I felt ther Pirate King was unduly 'athletic' in "Pirates". Keith Michel, in his appearances, was in my view too young in one case (the Major-General) and too old in the other.
Sound quality and synch. was generally acceptable and there was some good singing from principles and chorus. Pity about the spelling errors and other mistakes in the accompanying librettos. It nearly deserved the extra star - but not quite.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gilbert & Sullivan DVD set, 2 Jan. 2010
By 
E. A. Piper (Guildford, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
The Gilbert & Sullivan operas are film studio productions and have more scene changes and trick photography, not possible in the usual stage versions, which enhance their appeal. The DVD's are accompanied with libretto of the songs which makes following the words easier; however our copy of Iolanthe had pages missing and pages from another opera mixed up with it which was a let down! EAP
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete Gilbert & Sullivan, 8 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
Well, almost complete: no Grand Duke, or Utopia Ltd. However, as neither of these is performed much (if at all) they're probably no great loss!
As a one-time member of the d'Oyly Carte Orchestra (back in the '70's) this set has brought back fond memories of touring around the country playing these pieces night in and night out!
Other reviewers have expressed quite a lot of disappointment and criticism of this collection, some of which (at the very least) seems rather unjustified:
my only grumble about casting, for example, is that of the Pirate King (Peter Allen, who is nowhere near 'butch' enough - indeed he is quite the opposite!!); other 'stars' - like Frankie Howerd - I find perfectly tolerable (No, he can't sing to save his life, but I really don't think this matters a jot - there is nothing worse, for starters, than non-serious music being performed by high-brow artists (the (in-)famous recording of West Side Story (with Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras) comes immedieately to mind as that simple did not work - for me, at least).
I have thoroughly enjoyed this set,and, no, I have not noticed the allegedly missing verses here and there!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars G & S set, 5 Mar. 2010
By 
ThinPaul (North Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
At the price sold on Amazon this is excellent value for money - a great way to enjoy your favourites and to discover ones you have not seen before. Sometimes the 1980s 'special effects' seem amateurish today and the men singers are overall not as strong as the ladies but overall they are a delight. eg Iolanthe is completely new to me but very tuneful and the fairies are most amusing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Savoy Operas, 17 July 2008
By 
D. L. WARD (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
This series contains much charm, entertainment, and is an artistic credit to the creative genius of G & S. What I cannot understand is why the sound quality is so awful. I have a reasonably good audio system and yet I need to follow the libretto to remind me of the words. Although it was produced in 1982, it is reminiscent of the early recordings of the D'Oyly Carte Company in the 50's. Why is this?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars some unexpected gems in a mixed bag, 16 April 2013
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] (DVD)
Overall, a mixed bag. The following particularly stand out:-

Cox and Box:- I agree that Bouncer is TERRIFIC but as well, the gentleman playing Box has the most beautiful voice I've ever heard in the part.

Trial by Jury:- Frankie Howerd tries to turn it into the Frankie Howerd show, which is a great pity as otherwise this would be an excellent performance.

The Mikado - William Conrad is the most Japanese looking Mikado I've come across. A not unreasonable voice, but sadly not up tp the standard of Nanki-poo, (John Stewart) Ko-Ko (Clive Revill) and Poo-Bah (Stafford Dean) who were, all, especially the latter, truly superb.

The Gondoliers:- An excellent performance overall, but the cuts drive me mad! When the Duke of Plaza-toro, in his speech about leading fashion omits to say thet "he occasionally led his men into battle. He invariably led them out of it - " well, it takes away the whole point of the song! As many other reviewers have said, I would have far rather done without the wretched Douglas Fairbanks commentary if time was short. Don Alhambra has had some unkind revfiews but I don't think he was that bad at all.

Pirate of Penzance:-various people have been rather rude about the pirate king, but if you can break the traditional mould and think more along the lines of Enjolras in Les Miserables, he works surprisingly well.

Ruddigore - Vincent Price does an excellent job as Sir Despard, especially in the hideously difficult "Patter" song. An excellent performance all round.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD]
Gilbert and Sullivan (1982) [DVD] by Peter Allen (DVD - 2004)
Used & New from: £45.00
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews