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Gilbert & Sullivan – Yeoman of the Guard, Trial By Jury (2 CD, FLAC)

Gilbert & Sullivan - Yeoman of the Guard, Trial By Jury (FLAC)
Gilbert & Sullivan - Yeoman of the Guard, Trial By Jury (FLAC)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 2
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Telarc
Size: 522 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

# The Yeomen of the Guard (The Merryman and his Maid), operetta
Composed by Arthur Sullivan
Performed by Welsh National Opera Orchestra
with Peter Massocchi, Pamela Helen Stephen, Neill Archer, Peter Hoare, Alwyn Mellor, Donald Adams, Clare O’Neill, John King, Richard Suart, Felicity Palmer, Gareth Rhys-Davies, Ralph Mason, Philip Lloyd Evans, Donald Maxwell
Conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras

# Trial by Jury, operetta
Composed by Arthur Sullivan
Performed by Welsh National Opera Orchestra
with Barry Banks, Rebecca Evans, Eric Garrett, Richard Suart, Peter Savidge, Gareth Rhys-Davies
Conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras

Disc: 1
01. Overture
02. When Maiden Loves
03. Tower Warders, Under Orders…This The Autumn Of Our Life
04. When Our Gallant Norman Foes
05. Alas! I Waver To And Fro
06. Is Life A Boon?
07. Here’s A Man Of Jollity
08. I Have A Song To Sing, O!
09. How Say You, Maiden
10. I’ve Jibe And Joke, And Quip And Crank
11. ‘Tis Done, I Am A Bride…Though Tear And Long-Drawn Sigh
12. Were I Thy Bride
13. Oh, Sergeant Meryll, Is It True

Disc: 2
01. Night Has Spread Her Pall Once More
02. Oh, A Private Buffoon Is A Light-Hearted Loon
03. Hereupon We’re Both Agreed
04. Free From His Fetters Grim
05. Strange Adventure
06. Hark, What Was That, Sir?
07. A Man Who Would Woo A Fair Maid
08. When A Wooer Goes A-Wooing
09. Rapture, Rapture
10. Comes The Pretty Young Bride
11. Hark, The Hour Of Ten Is Sounding
12. Is This The Court Of The Exchequer?
13. When First My Old, Old Love I Knew
14. All Hail, Great Judge!
15. When I, Good Friends, Was Called To The Bar
16. Swear Thou The Jury
17. Where Is The Plaintiff?…Comes The Broken Flower
18. Oh Never, Never, Never
19. May It Please You, M’Lud
20. That She Is Reeling Is Plain To See
21. Oh, Gentlemen, Listen I Pray
22. That Seems A Reasonable Proposition
23. A Nice Dilemma We Have Here
24. I Love Him, I Love Him
25. Oh, Joy Unbounded

Two operas performed with no weak link in the casts – and certainly not Reed!

The Yeomen of the Guard competes closely with Princess Ida as being the most operatic of Gilbert and Sullivan’s works. Although the three most popular G&S operas are HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado, the three of the greatest quality musically would be Iolanthe, Yeomen of the Guard, and one other – perhaps Ruddigore. All of the operas are wonderful, each with its own different flavor. Yeomen is the saddest of them all, though it is not truly a tragic opera (this is more apparent in the dialogue). Anyway, on to the actual recording.

First of all, John Reed is NOT miscast as Jack Point. He is a perfect Point. I only wish this recording included dialogue, but Sargent was not wont to do such a thing, and never did throughout his long and distinguished career (to my knowledge). Reed’s display of emotion does not overdo the drama nor underplay it. Really, Point is the role most fitted to Reed. Point or Ko-Ko (but that’s another story). The other principles also do very well. Donald Adams is in good form as usual, though he does not have too much to do in this opera as Sergeant Meryll. Philip Potter is an outstanding Colonel Fairfax, a tenor of the highest order. Elizabeth Harwood as Elsie, Ann Hood as Phoebe Meryll, and Gillian Knight as Dame Carruthers all sing finely. Kenneth Sanford makes a perfect Wilfred Shadbolt, demonstrating the roughness of a jailor without singing like one. The recorded sound is kind to all their voices, as it is to the choral singing, which is also outstanding.

The worst thing about this recording is the lack of dialogue, but regardless a libretto can be downloaded from The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive and read between numbers (it helps, believe me). There is currently no alternative with dialogue, excepting Sir Neville Marriner’s recording with heavily abridged dialogue and the 1982 Brent Walker/Opera World video, which excludes six numbers on account of time restraints. (As a side note, the present performance includes a song for Dame Carruthers and Sergeant Meryll, “Rapture, rapture,” that is often omitted.)

I have not mentioned the filler as of yet. Trial by Jury is a delightful work well up to the standards of later operas in many ways. Often you may read that a recording includes “Trial by Jury, without dialogue.” This is something of a misnomer, since Trial by Jury is the only of the G&S operas not to have any dialogue whatsoever. It is all words set to music.

The cast for this work is just as strong as for Yeomen of the Guard. Thomas Round makes himself the perfect Defendant. Though only he and Anthony Raffell would actually perform this work on tour when this recording was made, this performance includes many of the big names from the D’Oyly Carte opera company of those days. John Reed makes a fine learned judge; Kenneth Sandford (as the Counsel for the Plaintiff) and Donald Adams (as The Usher) fill their roles in a similarly convincing manner. The only female principle is the Plaintiff, and Ann Hood adapts as well to this role as she did to Phoebe Meryll (though her sobs after the Cousel’s song is a bit contrived). Isidore Godfrey conducts this work, and does it very, very well. The music glows, making this one of the best Trial by Jury’s available.

Overall, this recording fully deserves five stars. As in all the Decca recordings of this series, a synopsis for both works is included. If you like any of the other Gilbert and Sullivan Operas, you will most certainly like The Yeomen of the Guard and Trial by Jury.

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