H.M.S. Pinafore

Melbourne Opera H.M.S. Pinafore starring David Gould and Claire LyonOne of the most celebrated comic operas of all time, Melbourne Opera presents a new production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s (G&S) H.M.S. Pinafore at the Athenaeum Theatre from 14 March 2017.

Since its premiere in 1878, the wildly popular H.M.S. Pinafore has continuously delighted audiences with a tale of star-crossed lovers on the seven seas. G&S aficionado Robert Ray will direct Melbourne Opera’s new production.

The production will star charismatic comedian, entertainer and opera singer David Gould as Sir Joseph Porter (acclaimed for his brilliant performances as Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville and Njegus in The Merry Widow), and internationally renowned singer Claire Lyon (The Phantom of the Opera), who will make her Melbourne Opera debut in the lead role of Josephine.

H.M.S Pinafore captivated such a cult following that it sparked no less than seven rival productions when it was first performed on Broadway,” says director Robert Ray. “Many composers have come and gone over time, but somehow G&S works have never left the stage, which is a testament to the pure entertainment value they offer.”

The rollicking farce features many of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best loved comic songs, arias and choruses in a scintillating and timeless send up of the British class system. The tale of H.M.S. Pinafore begins with Captain Corcoran of the good ship H.M.S. Pinafore whose daughter, Josephine, is in love with a lowly but gallant sailor Ralph Rackstraw.

The Captain forbids the match and intends her to marry the well-bred Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty but finds himself in a similar position when his former nanny, Little Buttercup, falls in love with him before, as in many of the G&S operas, a surprise disclosure changes things dramatically.

An all-star cast led by David Gould has been assembled for Melbourne’s first professional production of H.M.S. Pinafore in over 20 years. Internationally-recognised soprano Claire Lyon joins the cast following her lead role in The Phantom of the Opera World Tour, principal roles with Opera Australia, a Helpmann Award nomination for her role in John Frost & Opera Australia’s Anything Goes, and a Green Room nominated performance in The Production Company’s Broadway version of The Pirates of Penzance at Hamer Hall.

Starring alongside David and Claire is celebrated tenor David Roger-Smith as the gentlemanly Captain Corcoran and Paul Biencourt as Ralph Rackstraw, following a highly praised performance in 2016 as Pedrillo in The Abduction from the Seraglio. Multi-award winning soprano Andrea Creighton will take on the role of Little Buttercup fresh from playing Carlotta Guidicelli in The Phantom of the Opera World Tour.

The cast also includes Roger Howell as the blunt-spoken Dick Deadeye, Jodie Debono and Cheryl Darvidis playing the aristocratic Cousin Hebe, Finn Gilheany as Bill Bobstay and Roland Seidl as Bob Becket. Melbourne Opera maestro Greg Hocking and Head of Music Raymond Lawrence will conduct the distinguished cast, 30 strong Melbourne Opera chorus and 32 piece Melbourne Opera orchestra.

The fun and frivolity will be brought to life with set and costume design by Greg Carroll, who is no stranger to nautical tales, having played Hermes in the cult hit TV show Ship to Shore before a noteworthy career as a director and designer.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s Savoy operas were a major influence on modern musical theatre, while G&S songs feature in the background of countless movies and TV shows. G&S characters have pervaded Western culture so much they taken on lives beyond the stage, memorialized by news outlets, while lines and quotes from G&S operas have become part of the English language.

H.M.S. Pinafore
The Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Season: 14 – 18 March 2017
Information and Bookings: www.melbourneopera.com

Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Clayton
Performance: Saturday 22April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.melbourneopera.com

Image: David Gould and Claire Lyon in H.M.S. Pinafore (supplied)