Gilbert & Sullivan - Ruddigore / Michell, Price, Trevelyan, Opera World [VHS]

9781578900084: Gilbert & Sullivan - Ruddigore / Michell, Price, Trevelyan, Opera World [VHS]
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A witch's curse binds each Lord of Ruddigore to commit a crime a day... or die. Meantime, in the local fishing village, all the young men are in love with pretty Rose Maybud. Her secret favorite is Robin who, unfortunately, is really the Lord of Ruddigore living incognito to avoid the family curse. He is exposed and forced into a life of crime, until faultless logic offers an ingenious solution and a blissful reunion with Rose.

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Ruddigore, a pseudo-melodramatic ghost story, became most famous for the moment when the portraits of Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd's ancestors spring to life and demand that he uphold the family curse of performing a crime every day. Less flawlessly balanced between score and libretto than some of Gilbert & Sullivan's works, it's a pleasurable trifle set to gorgeous music. Since this is the only version widely available on video, we're lucky it's so good. Vincent Price is wonderfully typecast as Despard Murgatroyd, the brother who hands over the title and the curse when Ruthven gives up hiding from his evil fate. Price can't sing--and he has a good 15 years on Keith Michell, who plays his older brother--but it really doesn't matter. He carries off his performance with supreme deftness.

Unlike many G&S productions, this one is admirably free of mugging; the actors don't condescend to their material. The staging is as beautifully absurd as the plot. The chorus of professional bridesmaids are an indistinguishable unit out of a fractured fairy tale, sleeping in one bed and showing up in the middle of other people's scenes; and during a lovely but dramatically static madrigal, the cast plays croquet.

This video is one of the Opera World series of 12 Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, produced in the early 1980s. Ruddigore is among the best in an uneven project. The series is unique in that many of its videos include subtitled lyrics, which make it infinitely easier to follow Gilbert's breakneck words. --David Olivenbaum

From the Back Cover:

Songs include:

"Oh, why am I moody and sad? / And why am I guiltily mad?" (Sir Despard)

"Coward, poltroon, shaker, squeamer, blockhead, sluggard, dullard, dreamer..." (Ancestral ghosts)

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