HMS Pinafore (2006)

Story and Historical Details

Pinafore initially looked as if it would be a failure. It received lukewarm reviews in the press, and ticket sales were poor. It was several months later, after Sullivan used some of the music during a successful Promenade Concert at Covent Garden, that Pinafore became the great success which it is today. It ran for 571 performances and became a source of popular quotations, such as the exchange, “What, never?” “Well, hardly ever!” Also popular was the verse, “For in spite of all temptations/To belong to other nations/He remains an Englishman.” Popular songs include Sir Joseph’s patter song “When I was a lad”, a brazen satire on the career of William Henry Smith, the newsagent who had risen to the position of First Lord of the Admiralty in 1877. Pinafore was pirated so much in the United States that Gilbert and Sullivan made a special effort to claim American copyright early on their next work, The Pirates of Penzance. Even today, Pinafore is one of the most popular Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

The gentlemanly Captain of the Pinafore, who claims that he would never swear at his crew (What, Never?), does not know that his daughter has fallen in love with a common sailor serving on her father’s ship. Meanwhile, the Captain has arranged for her to marry the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Joseph Porter. Sir Joseph himself has risen from humble beginnings to gain his office by political acumen, despite having never gone to sea! And to further complicate matters, the Captain himself secretly loves a poor bumboat woman.

Fear not: it all works out in the end. Hip, hip, hoorah!!