The Opera Australia Trial By Jury (2005)

The Learned JudgeAnthony Warlow
The PlaintiffAli McGregor
The DefendantDavid Hobson
Counsel for the PlaintiffJohn Bolton-Wood
UsherRichard Alexander

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 H.M.S. Pinafore, which was filmed at the same time.

Review by Donald Shirer

Although the Opera Australia Trial by Jury is the only performance of this operetta I have seen on DVD (indeed it may be the only one), but I would be glad to recommend it to anyone as a reasonable start to their Gilbert and Sullivan library. It follows Pinafore on the same disc, and both are given competent stage and musical direction by Stuart Maunder and Andrew Greene, this is a brisk and pleasing diversion. Set in a conventional British jury room (with just a hint of the shipboard set underneath) but in modern dress, we see such unusual props in a G&S production as tabloid newspapers and hand-held recording devices and cameras. The staging is unconventional, a bit over the top at times, but appealing, and there are a few innocuous revisions of Gilbert's lines.

Rich Alexander's excellent bass voice opens the play as the Usher, David Hobson does his usual good job as the Defendant, and Ali McGregor is a lovely plaintiff. John Bolton-Wood abandons his usual patter role and shows an excellent operatic baritone voice as the Counsel, and Andrew Jones is a pleasant jury Foreman. Making his entrance by barging through the audience, Anthony Warlow, almost unrecognizable in hilarious old-age makeup as the judge, delivers his songs in an amusing croak and his dialog in a strange accent, and sleeps through the defendant's testimony. He is the epitome of lecherousness as he resolves the trial by offering to marry the plaintiff himself.

The chorus of male jurors and female media reps is energetic and often break from their boxes to spread the action across the stage. I confess that in a few of the concerted numbers I had some difficulty in discerning the words, but this could be the fault of the authors (do I hear cries of "What, never"?), since other companies on record have a similar failing.

Issue History
2006 Kultur DVD D4080 Also includes H.M.S. Pinafore