The Opera Australia Pinafore (2005)

Sir Joseph PorterJohn Bolton-Wodd
Captain CorcoranAnthony Warlow
Ralph RackstrawDavid Hobson
Dick DeadeyeRichard Alexander
Bill Bobstay[not listed]
Bob Becket[not listed]
JosephineTiffany Speight
Little ButtercupCollette Mann
HebeRoxane Hislop

Opera Australia
Stage Director: Stuart Maunder
Conductor: Andrew Greene

DVD Cover

This 2005 production, Opera Australia's first in ten years, was broadcast on Australian television and issued on DVD coupled with Trial by Jury, which was filmed at the same time.

Review by Donald Shirer

The Opera Australia Pinafore, sharing a DVD with Trial, adds to this group's coverage of the G&S repertoire, and is a production with a live audience conventional in content but innovative in detail. The Sydney Opera House stage is dominated by Roger Kirk's towering set, whose ship and costumes are set in the era when steam has just taken over from sail. The opening scene takes place in the crews quarters, but subsequently most of the cast spend considerable time making effective use of the many ladders connecting the three acting levels. Director Stuart Maunder has contributed many humerous touches, including the entrance of Buttercup on a rowboat, the cousins and aunts in a packing crate, and Sir Joseph clinging to a huge crane hook.

Anthony Hopkins as the Captain David Hobson as Rafe, and Tiffany Speight as Josephine, are standouts in both their singing and acting. John Bolton-Wood contributes a properly funny and stuffy Sir Joseph (though perhaps not quite up to his Major-General). Collette Mann, evidently an Australian soap personality and an expert comedic actress is Buttercup, but she is not a natural contralto and her singing comes off as a bit shrill to my ears. Roxanne Hislop makes excellent use of her few measures as Hebe. Richard Alexander makes a wonderfully smarmy Deadeye. Although uncredited, Andrew Jones a fine, though unusually young, Bos'n. The Carpenter's Mate's good singing is also uncredited, but I think he may be Jerzy Koslowski. I cannot fault the chorus in any way.

The multi-camera work is seamless, with the many closeups giving us good views of the humorous reactions of the cast to the utterances of the leads. We even have closeups of the orchestra during the overture, with Musical Director Andrew Greene keeping a tight rein on the production as usual. The many costumes (at least two changes for everyone) are pleasant and appropriate, though I expected to see some insignia of rank on the bos'n besides his pipe.

To save time for Trial, there is no intermission between the two acts of Pinafore. Instead night falls quickly during the departure of the wedding party, who clear the stage just in time for the Captain's lunar paean. The too often interminable encores of the Bell Trio are also cut here in the interest of brevity. All in all, I am happy to rate this production as the best of the many Pinafores I have seen.

Issue History
2006 Kultur DVD D4080 Also includes Trial by Jury