York Opera head to sea in Gilbert and Sullivan’s love-struck HMS Pinafore at York Theatre Royal from November 16 to 19

Madly in love but kept apart by social hierarchy: Lovesick sailor Ralph (Jack Storey-Hunter) and the Captain’s daughter, Josephine (Alexandra Mather), in York Opera’s HMS Pinafore

YORK Opera will set sail at York Theatre Royal with Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta HMS Pinafore or The Lass That Loved A Sailor from November 16, steered by a new production team of Annabel van Griethuysen and Tim Selman.

Stage director Annabel and conductor Tim will be at the helm of a production at the Theatre Royal for the first time.

HMS Pinafore was G&S’s first big success, both in Great Britain and the United States, establishing their still undiminished position at the pinnacle of light opera in this country.

Although they had had significant success with Trial By Jury and The Sorcerer, the world of light opera in the 1850s and 1860s was dominated by the works of Jacques Offenbach, full of catchy tunes and brilliantly orchestrated. 

Breaking into this field of theatre and dominating it across the English-speaking world must be due greatly to the witty and topical libretti by W.S. Gilbert. In conjunction with Sullivan’s sparkling and tuneful musical settings, HMS Pinafore established the rock on which all the subsequent G&S repertoire would be founded.

Annabel van Griethuysen’s Carmen in York Opera’s Carmen at York Theatre Royal in October 2018. Now dietician Annabel switches from mezzo-soprano singing to stage directing HMS Pinafore

The story follows Ralph, a lovesick sailor, and Josephine, the Captain’s daughter, who are madly in love but kept apart by social hierarchy. The musical numbers, loved by young and old alike, include We Sail The Ocean Blue, Never Mind The Why And Wherefore and When I Was A Lad.

As usual with York Opera’s G & S productions, a healthy mix of youth and experience combines in the cast. New to the company are Jack Storey-Hunter in the leading tenor role of Ralph Rackstraw and Polina Bielova as Cousin Hebe. 

Well-known cast members in the line-up include Alexandra Mather in the leading soprano role of Josephine; John Soper as Sir Joseph Porter; Ian Thomson-Smith as Captain Corcoran; Rebecca Smith as Little Buttercup and Anthony Gardner as Dick Deadeye.

York Opera in Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, York Theatre Royal, November 16 to 19, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Sea-bound: Jack Storey-Hunter’s Ralph and Alexandra Mather’s Josephine in York Opera’s HMS Pinafore