I have never been to see an opera before, HMS Pinafore by Opera Della Luna was my first.
I found HMS Pinafore to be an OK opera, but not great. It wasn’t so terrible I wanted to scratch out my eyes and plug up my ears with them, but it also wasn’t an opera that set my heart racing and left me a total lover of opera for the rest of my life.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore is a comedy opera and although there was a little giggle here or there the rest of the performance was lacking any spark :-(
Maybe it’s the age of this opera which has been in circulation since the late 18 hundreds or the actual performance by Opera Della Luna Company, felt like both the age and the opera company had limitations that made this productions lacking.
The actual opera itself came across as catering for a typical Victorian audience, with a little giggle behind a gloved hand here and there with the rest of the opera concentrating on the love sick couple that have a love that is denied them by society due to class differences, one being a poor common sailor and the other the daughter of the ships captain. The usual setup for a love story.
I have to say whenever the two lovers sang about there unacquainted love (which was all the way through) I found myself taking in a disapproving deep breath, bracing myself for the boredom. I noticed my hubby and son doing the same! This part of the opera was tiresome, the two main characters lacked any flair.
The lovers came across as a typical tale of a female in Victorian times all boring and proper and a serious love struck hard working young sailor, both characters were easily forgettable, if it wasn’t for the comical Admiral I think I would have fallen into a coma.
The music wasn’t much to write home about, it was OK, but it lacked the sea shanty charm and was particularly boring when the two lovers sang their scores. The music in HMS Pinafore was not the typical stark opera music, but it wasn’t a barrel of laughs either.
The Admiral was the only performance of the evening in HMS Pinafore that was thoroughly enjoyable, when he stepped on stage he livened up the opera and made it fun with his dithering nature. This might be a little unfair to the rest of the actors on stage since the Admiral seems to be the only character in HMS Pinafore who had any personality (or at least in this version of the opera).
I also like the class bashing and in particular the first song the Admiral sang. He made Admiral and became the leader of the Queens Navy by never stepping foot on a boat, loved the homosexual innuendo that the Admiral shows, quite funny and had all the characters been as comical it could have been an enjoyable show.
The Admiral wasn’t on enough in my opinion, if he had been the main focus of the show it might have been more enjoyable. He was supported well by the three female characters (one played by a man) who boarded the boat at the same time as the Admiral and sang along with him in some of the songs. The Captain’s character also supported the Admirals comedy quite well, it seemed almost all the comedy was centered around this one character. No other character were really funny.
The Opera Della Luna production of HMS Pinafore started really slow with the actors setting up the scene as we watched. A good 10 minutes passed with nothing really happening, I should have realised then that we were in for a substandard show.
The rest of the performances by the other actors were dull, they tried, but never really pulled it off. When it came to the opera company itself this is where Gilbert and Sullivan production of HMS Pinafore failed to impress.
There was no microphones for the players, so their voices were lost and engulfed by the live music playing on stage, this happened to the lady who played Buttercup the gypsy peasant all the way through the performance, her voice wasn’t that strong. I will admit though that at times during the high notes a microphone might have blown our ears, I would say that the Embassy Theatre was too big for this opera and that a smaller theatre or hall would have suited it much better. We sit at the back of the theater so my hubby can stretch his back, when we got the tickets we were warned we might not be able to hear the show well, but I don’ think being closer would have made much difference since the music would will be louder than the actors voices.
The next big problem was understanding what they were singing, Gilbert and Sullivan HMS Pinafore is an English Opera, but I couldn’t understand a lot of what they were saying in many of the songs. I never caught a word at all in some of the songs, I’m just glad it was a basic story line or I wouldn’t have been able to follow the story. My hubby leaned over to me at one point during HMS Pinafore and whispered in my ear they need to have subtitles :-) again the best performance was from the Admiral when he sang a solo you could understand almost every word he said.
The cost of the show was unbelievable for what you get normally at the Embassy Theatre. The Embassy sells tickets at a very competitive price for most of it’s shows, but Opera Della Luna must be having a laugh at the price they charged per seat with adult ticket at £23.50 and a child ticket was £11.00 add on the extra £2 handling charge and I payed a whopping £39 for a second rate production, my hubby was lucky he got his ticket for free. The Embassy started giving away the tickets via their Facebook group the night before (presumably to fill some seats, I assume they hadn’t sold many), I do feel a bit ripped off from this show.
I personally will never see an opera like this again, I’ve been put right off by Opera Della Luna’s HMS Pinafore, which is a shame as I could see the story had potential, but it needs to be updated to entertain a modern audience with more uplifting songs, more comedy and livelier characters. I know it was a take on the traditional opera By Gilbert and Sullivan, but it’s 2010 and you have to move with the times or you’ll loose an audience which is why I think opera is dying as an art form in the theatre, shame but them’s the punches.
I would not recommend spending a lot of money on tickets to see this opera, it’s not worth it. HMS Pinafore did have it’s good moments with it’s comedy which has lasted the test of time and can entertain and make a 21st century audience laugh (though not very loud, more of a low level chuckle), but the rest off this productions shows it’s age with an out of date story (the class divide is no longer relevant) and dull characters.
The production from Opera Della Luna had an amateur feel to the show, I’d say if you chose to skip this one your not missing much.
HMS Pinafore Rating
Would We Go Again : No
Would We Recommend To Others: No
Was It Value For Money: Definitely Not
Recommended For: All ages
Star Rating 4/10
I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy your evening at The Embassy Theatre seeing Opera della Luna’s production of HMS Pinafore. I can only assume, having seen the same show, that you didn’t really understand what was going on? The music is delightful and the dialogue is very funny, but you do need to have some wit and intelligence yourself to appreciate it. I have seen OdL many times and the awfulness of The Embassy Theatre is not ideally suited to this excellent company. Microphone’s were not required: I could hear everything at the level it is supposed to be heard. So often a musical show is far too loud and that makes it uncomfortable. Perhaps you need to have your ears tested?
Do try again, as these pieces are well worth a second shot. As to opera being a dying art form, you could not be further from the truth. It is alive and well and plays to packed houses throughout the world. Unfortunately, the show had not sold well at Embassy, but it’s really not what you would exactly call a number one date, and only fit for awful tribute shows and reality star rubbish.
I’m glad you like HMS Pinafore.
I can assure you I understood the story perfectly well, and although it has it’s amusing moments this opera for me was dated.
Maybe it’s that I’m to young to appreciate class divides, I found the whole premise of the show to be patronising for a modern audience.
I would agree that the acoustics in the Embassy theatre are not good, but saying this I’m afraid apart from the opera singers who played the Admiral and His daughter the rest of the performers where lacking in ability and talent.
I have been to see Shakespeare at the Embassy and the thespians in Macbeth where breath taking, so I have a wide pallet of shows I like to see.
Maybe if a modern opera comes to the Embassy I will appreciate opera more.
My personal favourite piece of modern opera is the amazing music score from the movie fifth element performed by the blue diva, if opera was modern and innovative then I could become a fan. Opera should widen it’s arisen and move towards the future.
I know it’s not traditional opera, but I find it amazing how she can use here voice.
The passed should not be forgotten, but a new art form mixing modern with traditional would be a wise step forward.
I do believe in my review I said I didn’t hate HMS Pinafore and at times it was funny.
After some time I would say it was the Opera company and not the Opera itself where the fault lay.
I think the crowd is the real test of the success of a show and in the audience that night not one person gave Opera Della Luna a standing ovation and there was no whistles of exhilarated applause.
As for the Embassy being a place only for rubbish reality stars, then I think you haven’t seen what great shows the Embassy have had on there prospectus. There portfolio is diverse show casing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and Jools Holland to name just two in 2010 the same year as HMS Pinafore.
Theatres should be treasured no matter how small and not rubbished by anyone, just because they aren’t grand, the Embassy has brought me many hours of enjoyment and I’ve experienced art forms I would never have got to appreciate if the Embassy never existed.
Even if someone only sees a reality star at a small theatre it’s better than never going to the theatre, each to their own.
Never one to quit I watched a Production of HMS Pinafore on Sky Arts Channel performed by Opera Australia and I quite enjoyed it.
None of the characters where wooden during the TV Production, all where lively.
With the Exception of the Admiral and the old sea dog Dead eye who where brought to life with enthusiasm by the opera stars I saw at the theatre produced by Opera Della Luna , HMS Pinafore on Sky Arts by Opera Australia, was far superior and the rest of the cast in this TV production was comical and fun.
The subtleties of facial expressions and comedy was pulled off by the actors in the Opera Australia with such ease and enjoyment by the main characters.
Even when full on Operatic song was thrust out, the subtle facial expressions made it so I could at least guess what they was whaling about, this was lacking in Opera Della Luna’s production and the comedy expressed in subtle motions was lost.
I will repeat again since I really was impressed with the performance, the Admiral in Opera Della Luna was out standing and no one can match the professional performance by Simon Butteriss, the admiral in the Sky Arts Program wasn’t very good and lacked the comic Fleur that Simon Butteriss gave the Admiral in the live performance, but unfortunately the inability of the other opera singers in Opera Della Luna’s production let down the playful feel to the opera.
Watching HMS Pinafore at my leisure and it not costing me an arm and a leg, I had time to reflect on what it is about opera that irritates me and I believe it’s when opera singers start warbling at an inaudible level and the words seem to become on long (and sometimes very long) globalise mass of noise, I can’t understand a word they are saying and I find it uncomfortable to listen to.
I find it frustrating when I can’t make out the words to something I want to understand and enjoy.
It’s like being shouted at in another language you don’t speak.
I liked all the songs that wasn’t full on operatic in HMS Pinafore and found the show to be enjoyable during those performances.
The fun of the characters were expressed much more enthusiastically by Opera Australia, I think this is the main area that Opera Della Luna fell short, the main characters (being the captain, captains daughter, young sailor and Buttercup) performed without any sense of humor or warmth for their characters, they were all way to stodgy and formal, which isn’t what Guilbert and Sullivan are about (I have recently learned, thanks Sky Arts :)).
Guilbert and Sullivan wrote there operas with comical sarcastic humor making a mockery of the politics of the time, one thing I do know, humour can pass the test of time and from what I have seen Gilbert and Sullivan’s essence of the opera certainly has (if not the storyline), but for me the warbling has to go before I can thoroughly enjoy opera.
Opera for me is like a earlier version of Rap music that doesn’t even have a good beat and is sung in an unpleasant high pitch.
I’m not an opera fan I think I’ll stick with musicals, but at least after seeing a good production of HMS Pinafore I could appreciate the experience on some level and we (the whole family watched it) got quite a few laughs while watching Opera Australia, which is the same enjoyment and fun we should have had from watching HMS Pinafore by Opera De Luna at the theatre.
If Opera Australia had had Simon Butteriss as their admiral and a better actor for the old sea dog Dead Eye, the production would have been complete without flaw.