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Trial By Jury

December 2, 2018 — 51 Comments

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Tonight I wanted to write about the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan as I will be performing the role of The Plaintiff in their one-act opera ‘Trial By Jury’ for Surrey Opera on the 16th December 2018.  I will be joined by the talented Stephen Anthony Brown, the effervescent Giles Davis,  and the amazing Tim Baldwin for what I hope will be a fun-filled evening.

My first encounter with Gilbert and Sullivan was when I studied at the junior department of the Royal Northern College of Music when we performed in The Yeomen of the Guard.  Gilbert and Sullivan were both born in Victorian England, Gilbert in 1836 and Sullivan in 1842. Their partnership produced fourteen comic operas which have been performed Internationally to appreciative audiences for over one hundred years. Gilbert wrote the Libretti, the text, and Sullivan composed the music.

Trial By Jury

Trial By Jury

The story pokes fun at the common law of Breach of Promise, it was considered that if a man made a promise of engagement to marry a woman and subsequently changed his mind then his fiancé could sue him for damages. The law was repealed in England in 1970, the last prominent case to be heard in the English courts was the case brought by Eva Haraldsted against the footballer George Best in 1969.

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H. Friston’s engraving of the original production of Trial By Jury

In the opera, I play the role of The Plaintiff who is beseeching the court to award her substantial damages as she loves the man who has broken his promise of marriage. The Defendant pleads with the court to keep the award small as he is “such a very bad lot”.  There is much argument between the parties with The Jurymen recalling their misspent youth but as they are all now respectable gentlemen, they can have no sympathy with the actions of the defendant.

The Defendant eventually offers to marry both The Plaintiff and his new love, but as The Judge points out that though this would appear to be an equitable arrangement it would be a serious crime in itself.  The Defendant then goes on to explain to the court that he is, in fact, a smoker, a drunkard, and a bully (when drunk) and The Plaintiff would not have wanted to spend more than a day married to him.  The Judge suggests that The Defendant should make himself drunk to prove his point.  The rest of the court objects to this and fed up with the lack of progress the Judge offers to marry The Plaintiff himself.  The Plaintiff finds this outcome much to her liking and as such the opera ends on a happier note.

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Classical Gala With Rolando Villazón And Guests

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Rolando Villazón

I also wanted to share with you that I have been asked to perform at next year’s Llangollen International Eisteddfod as a guest of tenor Rolando Villazón who will be performing there for the first time.  Also appearing with him will be the Welsh lyric soprano Rhian Lois.  I am thrilled and honoured to have been asked to take part in the concert which takes place on the 2nd July 2019.  Tickets will go on sale on the 12th December.