Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



CHRIS WEBSTER: The only grand opera company that I am aware of that has done The Yeomen Of The Guard in recent years is the Welsh National Opera. This is however fairly significant, as this tour culminated in the only time that a G&S opera has been fully staged at London's prestigious Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The cast is virtually the same as the Mackerras (Telarc) recording. This was also broadcast live at the time on BBC Radio 3. I saw this show before it went to Covent Garden, and my programme gives the dates of the ROH performances as 24, 25, 26 April 1995. I believe (although I stand to be corrected) that this was Donald Adams last G & S appearance in a full professional production.

NEIL ELLENOFF: The problem is that it is not grand opera. I think it is a great work and a lot better than many grand operas, but one of the usual definitions of opera is that it is written for "operatic" voices. Yeoman was written for theater voices. That makes it, in my opinion, neither better nor worse. It just isn't grand opera.

BILL SNYDER: Seriously, I think standard rep opera companies would be scared to do Yeomen. It ain't opera buffa and it ain't verismo. I have great respect for Yeomen and I think that Point is a great achievement in dramatic characterization that transcends any genre. But I might be too scared to see what an opera company would do to it.

BRUCE I. MILLER: I'm sure that I remember New York City Opera doing Yeoman a couple of decades ago.

The sticking point must be that it is too funny in the funny parts. Maybe, in English-speaking countries, it could be done in French or Italian. Then it wouldn't be so witty, and audiences could enjoy it more. After all, the basic plot is very close to that of Offenbach's La Perichole. Oh, but that's buffa, too, isn't it?

Page created 7 June 1997