Arthur Sullivan - The Yeomen of the Guard (1888) (1993 Marriner recording) - No. 4. Quartet & Finale - "When a wooer" (cont.) & "'Tis said that joy in full perfection" (Kurt Streit, Thomas Allen, Sylvia McNair, Jean Rigby)





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Published on Jan 17, 2009

I'm more and more falling under the spell of the topsy-turvydoom of the British power duo, Gilbert & Sullivan, especially after hearing "The Yeomen of the Guard", possibly, their best, most openly operatic and less topsy-turvy work.

A thorough libretto of the work can be found here:


P.S. As if Act One wasn't good enough, Act Two is even better :).

No. 17. Quartet - "When a wooer" (cont.).

No. 19. Finale - "'Tis said that joy in full perfection". The finale is unusually compact, managing to present with extreme vivacity two very dramatic situations in just ten minutes. I had to cut an opening chorus to save some time, thus, we begin with a slightly otherworldly terzettino for Phoebe, Elsie and Dame Carruthers, celebrating Elsie's betrothal to "Leonard" and sung almost a capella, with some string lines effectually highlighting the harmony of the voices. After a repeat of the final lines by the chorus, several horn flourishes, seemingly announcing the appearance of the groom, are cut short by the monologue of the lieutenant, announcing that Fairfax lives and has been pardoned. This revelation leads to a common sorrow of all present, given in a short but suitable tutti. Fairfax enters and, to see the reaction of Elsie, continues with the charade he had started. Elsie voices her torment in a very affecting dramatic arioso, at the end of which she resigns herself to fate's part. She then proceeds to look at her husband who turns out to be her beloved Leonard which immediately causes all to break out in a joyous hymn to love. That is until Point makes an entrance, completely devoid of any hope at regaining Elsie. His tragedy is sentimentally presented in a reprise of the performers' opening duettino but which now becomes a song of love lost rather than the sarcastic tale which was presented to us from the beginning. Elsie answers the verse, sympathizing with Point's plight (in a very morbid turn, a version of the girl's song makes her laugh at her fellowman's tragedy). This sustained sadness is then replaced with a far more joyous coda, ironically celebrating the presumed happy ending for Elsie and Fairfax, while Point falls, completely unfeeling, by their feet.

Here is a list of performers who appear in these selections:

Kurt Streit - Colonel Fairfax,
Robert Lloyd - Lt. Cholmondely,
Stafford Dean - Sergeant Meryll,
Thomas Allen - Jack Point,
Bryn Terfel - Wilfred Shadbolt,
Sylvia McNair - Elsie Maynard,
Jean Rigby - Phoebe Meryll,
Anne Collins - Dame Carruthers,
Judith Howarth - Kate.

Hope you'll enjoy :)!

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Comments • 15

Lawrence Skarin
Audrey Williamson wrote the book on G&S way back when and I commend it to all. She says, in playing Jack Point, Martyn Green whitened his makeup for the last act so he looked sick to begin with, thus making his death (death is what Gilbert said) more believable. Thanks. Very good rendition.
Bare Hands
I always think of Jack as a tenor, maybe because I saw Joel Gray play the part of Jack at the Cleveland Opera. He was *so* beautifully tragic. I love this work.
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Anthony Smith
the soprano sings beautifully   lovely tone
Bare Hands
Brilliant; thank you.
Susannah MacDonald
A pleasure to listen to - the best I've ever heard. Sullivan would be well pleased to hear his lovely music so well performed. Isadore Godrey's conducting took a lot of beating but this one eclipses even his!
Susannah MacDonald
Jack has always been played by a baritone - I remember the Joel Grey interpretation very well and I thought he did a fine job.
Bare Hands
Let me take you to lunch (figuraiively, if necessary). Lindoro. And keep on doing, you know . . . it.
Bare Hands
My favorite. How do you manage to post such a rich audio experience? Maybe I don't want to know. But thank you. Thank you. 
I just can't stop listening to the finale. The control of the chorus on the 'O' at 8:29 is stunning.
Chris Angelico
I have a particular affinity for the minor-key pieces, which Yeomen (of all the G&Ses, especially) is particularly well provided. This is quite a good recording (and I've heard a good few, and some live). I'm presently involved in rehearsals with the local Gilbert and Sullivan Society - we'll be performing Yeomen at the end of April... this Elsie (Sylvia McNair) reminds me of the one who I really wished had auditioned! Ah well. We have another good Elsie.
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