H.M.S. Pinafore: Gilbert and Sullivan’s rock opera?

Gilbert and Sullivan wrote extremely catchy tunes that sounded quite contemporary… back in 1878.

So when the Guthrie Theater decided to stage H.M.S. Pinafore, music director Andrew Cooke decided the score needed an update.


The cast of H.M.S. Pinafore at the Guthrie Theater

Photo: Michal Daniel

This morning Cathy Wurzer spoke to Cooke, who has brought elements of tango, disco and rock opera to the classic musical. You can listen to their conversation (and excerpts of the updated tunes) by clicking on the audio link below.

Well turn about is fair play. Just as Cooke has updated Gilbert and Sullivan’s music for a contemporary audience, at least one G&S devotee has taken contemporary music and given it a true 1898 feel. Behold!

  • Jim Griffin

    Why do so many music directors feel that Sir Arthur needs to be rewritten?

    Sounds like crap to me.

  • Sheila

    I have just listened to “Baby Got Back” (whatever that is supposed to mean) and thought it was utter rubbish and incredibly boring. Why on earth is Major-General Stanley singing a song about ladies’ rear ends in front of his daughters? Nobody can beat G&S for words and tunes.

  • Robin Gordon-Powell

    The Pirates of Penzance film excerpt with excessively badly written music and pathetic lyrics is crass, gratuitous rubbish — and to imagine that it has anything remotely approaching a ‘true 1898 feel’ is simply delusional. It’s just poorly written tosh, cobbled together by someone with a rudimentary sense of rhythm, no concept of basic music progression, and a retarded adolescent sense of humour.

    Nor does this farrago appear to be remotely connected to the article on HMS Pinafore, the premise of which production also seems to be delusional.

    O, Mount Vesuvius!