It was with a degree of caution that I purchased this DVD. I feared that it might be little more than an "idiot's guide" to G&S, but while it is undoubtedly a useful introduction to the Savoy Operas, it is rather more academic and insightful in its approach than I had anticipated. This is due in no large part to the writer and host, Simon Butteriss, who leads us genially through the story of G&S and makes more perceptive observations along the way. In fact, all of the distinguished "talking heads" (ranging from Michael Ball and Germaine Greer to Jonathon Miller and Charles Mackerras) have something interesting to impart. Illustrative excerpts from the operas are given; they are sometimes frustratingly short, as they receive persuasive performances from Mr B. and other regulars at the Buxton G&S Festival, Charlotte Page, Victoria Byron, Jill Pert, Oliver White, Bruce Graham and the late Gareth Jones. The latter two offer us some choice (and surprisingly racy) anecdotes from their time with the old D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. There is an equally illuminating bonus DVD , also written and in this case performed by Mr Butteriss, about George Grossmith, the creator of the great patter roles; this too gains my wholehearted recommendation.
on 28 February 2011
Like another reviewer I was concerned that I (as a G & S buff) might find this trivial and weak. But no: and the main reason is Simon Butteriss, who presents with aplomb and an engaging (if a little camp) personality. What he has to say about the great ill-matched pair is quite scholarly and contains a number of angles new to me. The musical illustrations are well done, by Butteriss and others, and it is entertaining to see the great pseud Jonathan Miller making a fool of himself. Anyone at all interested in G & S should see this. Highly recommended.
on 26 September 2012
This is a really refreshing look at the lives and work of the great duo. Entertaing and informative. Simon Butteriss, is without doubt, a fine exponent of the patter songs and is setting a standard by which all future efforts will be judged. I recomment this dvd to all G&S fans both old and new. Having watched it I hope people will understand why they are treated with such affection throughout the world.
on 17 May 2011
This highly enjoyable set of five 30min programmes by Simon Butteriss helps to dispel the myth that Gilbert & Sullivan's operas were simply cosy comedies for the upper-classes. There is a great deal of sharp satire if the audience is willing to appreciate it. On this DVD are comments from singers, conductors and directors interspersed with specially created dramatic excerpts. An interview with Jonathan Miller is particularly surprising; in the light of his antipathy to G&S it's very hard to understand why he actually directed a version of the Mikado.
on 16 November 2012
These 2 dvds bring out all that is so brilliant about G & S. I think Simon Butteriss must be some sort of genius himself! Having had the privilege of seeing him live a couple of times I wondered how he would be in this environment. He is, as younger people than I would say (I think) just awesome. He has a real voice, of course, and his clarity and speed, his breath-control, are staggering. He also manages to say new things about the operas, which is pretty remarkable!
A small complaint directed at Amazon. These dvds are for region NTSC, and Amazon don't say this. I sent my first one back as unplayable, but then my local dealer(Rob Hardy, New Milton) told me how to adjust the Player and I'm OK now.