2020-08-29 03:30:25 UTC
I've begun to investigate Gilbert and Sullivan performances that have
been committed to film or video. First up was the 1982 movie version of
"The Pirates of Penzance." It was not an auspicious beginning. The
cast is, by and large, appealing, but the orchestration, heavy on the
synthesizer, is appalling. The production seems to have been conceived
by people who had no confidence in the material - they're always trying
to hype it up. Some things work; a lot of other things don't. Even if
it all worked, I still couldn't forgive the damage done to the music.
It gave me a headache.
Next I turned to the 1939 film of "The Mikado," which, after that
"Penzance," was a relief. I especially liked Sydney Granville as Pooh-Bah.
The first time I saw "The Mikado" was on stage at the Lyric Opera of
Chicago. The director, Peter Sellars, updated the setting to the
present day (1980s). I recall the Gentlemen of Japan were board members
of a Japanese car company seated around the boardroom table, and I have
a dim recollection of a Toyota being driven onto the stage. My critical
faculties were not as yet developed, so I can't say much else about it.
Perhaps it wasn't the best production to see first, though I did enjoy
the opera itself and the tinkering with it. Several decades later,
updating settings in opera is practically de rigueur. One might say the
bloom is off that particular rose.
Any other filmed G&S I should look to?