SULLIVAN: Pirates of Penzance / Trial by Jury

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WilliamSchwenk Gilbert (1836 - 1911) and Arthur Sullivan (1842 - 1900)

The Pirates ofPenzance

Trial By Jury



The Pirates ofPenzance


While ThePirates of Penzance contains some of Sullivan's most captivating tunes, TrialBy Jury has preserved for posterity Gilbert's cleverest satirical asides onthe hypocrisy of the judicial system. Each imparts its message with an economyof music and lyrical invention which has assured its place among the best lovedof G & S masterpieces.


Subtitled TheSlave of Duty, The Pirates of Penzance was the fourth in the seriesof Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a sequel to the phenomenally successful HMSPinafore of 1876, which swiftly provided its creators with another transatlantichit. After parallel 'copyright' performances at the Bijou Theatre, Paignton, Devon, on 30th December and the Fifth Avenue Theater, New York, on 31st December, 1879, its first London performance took place at the Opera-Comique, underSullivan, on 3rd April, 1880, with an initial run of 363 performances.

Combining ideas from the pre-Sullivan Gilbert operetta Our Island Home

(1870) with some of his more recent mock-melodramatic improvisations onburglars, its plot revolves around yet another case of mistaken identity. Owingto the oversight of his nursery-maid Ruth, as a child Frederic was apprenticedin error to the Pirate King.


Trial by Jury


Following theirinaugural collaboration Thespis, first produced in London on 23rdDecember, 1871, Gilbert and Sullivan's first full-scale collaboration TrialBy Jury, 'A novel and entirely original Dramatic Cantata' based on an earliercourtroom skit and initially proposed to D'Oyly Carte by Gilbert in 1874, wasfirst given under the baton of the composer at the Royalty Theatre in London on25th March, 1875. An immediate success, it was their first significantmilestone prior to HMS Pinafore (1878). "Extremely funny and admirablycomposed," it originally constituted the last in a triptych of one-actfarces, preceded by Edgar and Wallace's Cryptonchoidsyphonostomata and Offenbach's La perichole, and survived its counterpartsin an initial run of 131 performances. The libretto is an elaboration byGilbert of a comic ballad he had written in 1868 for Fun magazine and latersubmitted to the impresario Carl Rosa as a possible vehicle for an opera.


Pirates or Penzance



CD l

Act I: After the Overture [1] thecurtain rises on an appropriate location for pirates, the craggy coast of Cornwall. On the shore a notorious band of pirates are makingmerry, drinking the health of the young Frederic who, having reached his 21stbirthday, has completed his pirate apprenticeship [2]. Frederic causes consternationwhen he informs the Pirate King that, as he will be free from midnight that day of his indentures, he intends to partcompany with his pirate colleagues. As Ruth, the pirate maid-of-all-work,endeavours to explain, his association with them was a mistake in the firstplace. He was meant to have become a pilot, not a pirate [3]

Frederic assures the pirates that, although he is very fond of them, once afree man he will, out of a sense of duty, join the police force and work towardstheir extermination. The Pirate King's sad confession that the gang have neverbeen successful in their piratical aspirations (being orphans, they have a softspot for other orphans) prompts Frederic out of leniency to suggest that thepirates accompany him back to civilisation to avoid extermination. The piratesdeclare they will have none of this, preferring to die as they have lived [4].

Next, the ageing Ruth begs Frederic to take her with him and make her his wife.

As he has been at sea since he was eight, Frederic has no previous experienceof women and his shrewd idea that there might be prettier - and younger - specimensto be found elsewhere is confirmed when, suddenly, a group of beautiful maidensappears in the distance. At this, he bitterly reproaches Ruth for deceiving himand she goes out in despair [5]. As the girls, all daughters ofMajor-General Stanley, clamber over the rocks, Frederic takes refuge in a cave.

From their conversation he overhears that they had set out with their fatherbut have left him trailing some way off [6]. Intrigued by the handsome Frederic's"effective but alarming costume," the girls nonetheless express horrorthat he is, for the present at least, a pirate [7], despite hisreassurance that he will change his profession that evening if anyone of them willmarry him [8]. The girls all spurn his advances, with the exception ofMabel who, in a florid parody of a conventional Italian operatic aria, openlydeclares her love for him [9]. Conscious of the instant mutual attractionbetween Mabel and Frederic, Edith and the other sisters gather round toeavesdrop on the progress of their courtship [10] until Frederic warnshis future sisters-in-law to leave the shore before the pirates return [11].

The warning comes too late; the pirates enter and seize the girls, over whomthey swiftly weave designs of matrimony [12]. At this, Mabel comesforward and informs them in a sobering recitative that the girls' father is aMajor-General [13], whereupon the Major-General himself enters andintroduces himself in a brilliant patter-song [14]. Next, the Generalexpresses his unwillingness to accept the pirates as his sons-in-law [15].

He plays on their weakness by addressing them as his fellow-orphans and theyare swiftly reduced to the state of maudlin sentimentality which has underminedall their previous enterprises. Amid cheers for the "orphan boy,"they release the General's daughters. Ruth makes one final, futile appeal toFrederic and the curtain falls upon both Union Jack and Skull-and-Crossbones [16].


CD 2

Act II: The scene opens on a ruined chapel by moonlight.

Surrounded by his daughters, the Major-

General sits deepin thought. While Mabel urges him to return to his bed. Frederic attempts toraise his spirits [1]. The General is overcome by remorse at having liedto the pirates, as he is not really an orphan. He visits the chapel nightly, hesays, to commune with the spirits of his "ancestors" but, as Fredericrightly points out, they cannot really be his ancestors since he only boughtthe property a year ago. As that very night Frederic is to lead a policeexpedition against the pirates, the General directs Frederic to summon hisforces [2], upon which the Police Sergeant and his men enter. Despite
Disc: 1
The Pirates of Penzance
1 Overture
2 Act I - Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry (Pirates &
3 Act I - When Frederic was a little lad (Ruth)
4 Act I - Oh, better far th live and die (Pirate Kin
5 Act I - Oh, false one, your have deceived me (Fred
6 Act I - What shall I do? (Frederic) / Climbing ove
7 Act I - Stop, ladies, pray! (Frederic, Ladies)
8 Act I - Oh, is there not one maiden breast (Freder
9 Act I - Poor wand'ring one (Mabel, Ladies)
10 Act I - What ought we to do (Edith & Kate) / How b
11 Act I - Stay, we must not lose our senses (Frederi
12 Act I - Here's a first rate opportunity (Pirates,
13 Act I - Hold, monsters (Mabel, Samuel, Ladies, Maj
14 Act I - I am the very model of a modern Major-Gene
15 Act I - Oh, men of dark and dismal fate (Major-Gen
16 Act I - I'm telling a terrible story; Act I finale
Disc: 2
Trial By Jury
1 Act II - O dry the glistening tear (Chorus, Mabel)
2 Act II - Then Frederic, let your escort (Major-Gen
3 Act II - When foreman bares his steel (Sergeant, P
4 Act II - Now for the Pirates' lair (Frederic, Ruth
5 Act II - When you had left your pirate fold (Ruth,
6 Act II - Away, away! My heart's on fire (Pirate Ki
7 Act II - All is prepared (Mabel, Frederic)
8 Act II - Stay, Frederic, star! (Mabel, Frederic)
9 Act II - Ah! Leave me not to pine (Mabel, Frederic
10 Act II - In 1940 I of age shall be (Frederic, Mabe
11 Act II - No, I'll be brave (Mabel)
12 Act II - Though in body and in mind (Sergeant)
13 Act II - When a felon's not engaged (Sergeant, Pol
14 Act II - A rollicking band of pirates we (Pirates,
15 Act II - With cat-like tread (Pirates, Police, Sam
16 Act II - Hush, hush, not a word (Frederic, Pirates
17 Act II - Sighing sofily to the river (Major-Genera
18 Act II - Now what is this
19 Act II - Hark the hour of ten is sounding (Chorus)
20 Act II - Now jurymen, hear my advice (Usher)
21 Act II - Is this the court of the exchequer (Defen
22 Act II - When first my old, old love I knew (Defen
23 Act II - Oh, I was like that (Jurymen)
24 Act II - All hail great judge (Chorus)
25 Act II - For these kind words (Judge)
26 Act II - When I, good friends (Judge)
27 Act II - Swear thou, the jury! (Counsel, Usher)
28 Act II - Comes the broken flower (Chorus of brides
29 Act II - O'er the season vernal (Plaintiff)
30 Act II - Oh never never never (Judge)
31 Act II - May if please you, my lud (Counsel for pl
32 Act II - That she is reeling (Judge)
33 Act II - Oh gentlemen, listen, I pray (Defendant)
34 Act II - But I submit, m'lud (Counsel)
35 Act II - A nice dilemma we have here (Judge, Couns
36 Act II - I love him; I smoke like a furnace (Plain
37 Act II - The question, gentlemen (Judge)
38 Act II - Oh joy unbounded (Plaintiff, Counsel, Def
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