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Gilbert & Sullivan: The Sorcerer

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A classic performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's classic comic opera. Bursting with brilliant acting, spectacular costumes and beautiful music, this stellar production will delight afficionados and opera novices alike. A love potion has all of Ploverleig

Amazon.com

One of Gilbert and Sullivan's first collaborations, The Sorcerer is also among their least known. In this tale of a magic potion that causes a whole village to fall in love with the wrong people, the pair's trademarks are already in evidence: an absurd plot that's resolved in an instant; deadpan operatic parodies; radiant tunes joined to sometimes cynical words. The work's popularity may have been hampered by flaws like its ending, which implausibly hurls the title character into damnation. But as a whole it's a buoyant experience, especially in this production, the only version easily available.

In a series of uneven quality (the Opera World series of G&S videos, made in the 1980s) this production is a standout. Almost without exception, the performers embody Gilbert's comic style. The title character, John Wellington Wells, is played by Clive Revill with proper Dickensian gravity, leavened by an anarchic twinkle. D'Oyly Carte veteran Donald Adams wields marvelous timing and diction as Sir Marmaduke, whose excessively good manners are no equal to Wells's potion. A weak point is Alexander Oliver, not very juvenile as the juvenile, Alexis; Oliver is a dull presence in a sparkling cast.

The production succumbs to a few television gimmicks, like having the actors speak directly into the camera. And the supernatural effects may look primitive by 21st-century standards, but that adds to the charm. From the opening number, filled with earnestly prancing villagers, you know you're in a world that follows its own giddy rules. --David Olivenbaum


Special Features

  • Making-of featurette
  • Song index
  • Gilbert & Sullivan profile
  • Libretto

Product Details

  • Actors: Clive Revill, David Kernan, Donald Adams, Nuala Willis, Alexander Oliver
  • Directors: Dave Heather
  • Writers: William S. Gilbert
  • Producers: George Walker, Judith de Paul
  • Format: Classical, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: October 22, 2002
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006JU6H
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,985 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gilbert & Sullivan: The Sorcerer" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Gilbert and Sullivan are most well known for such comic opera gems as 'The Mikado', 'The Pirates of Penzance', and 'H.M.S. Pinafore'. 'The Sorcerer' is not one of their better-known works, presumably because its slow beginning tends to decrease general interest before the fun really begins. This was dealt with rather well by the Ambrosian Opera Company, which used plenty of colour and lots of bright voices to liven things up a bit until the turning point near the end of the first act. Visuals, as is the habit within this series, did tend to be exaggerated a tinge more than necessary, but it's arguable that this holds the interest of the uninitiated. Commendable performances were given by all, especially by Clive Revill (baritone) as the title character and Nuala Willis (contralto) as Lady Sangazure. Their duet in the second act is really quite a lot of fun to watch. I vote we bring this back on the market.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Saralee Etter on August 26, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of the 1982 series of G&S productions produced by the BBC. Love, love, love Donald Adams as Sir Marmaduke, and Clive Revill is fun as the Sorcerer (hard to imagine he also played the Emperor in Star Wars Episode 4!).

It does take a long time to get started. The dances are nice. My favorite part is the duet between the Sorcerer and Lady Sangazure--still very funny.

It feels slow at times, but for those of us who may never see a live production it is an invaluable resource.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Timothy B. Holt on May 2, 2008
Format: DVD
It is odd how mesmerizing this version of the Sorcerer is. It just delights me each time I watch it. Clive Revell plays the Sorcerer so well I cannot think of anybody else doing it. The rapid fire "My name is John Wellington Wells. I'm a dealer in magic and spells..." with a serious tone but devilish smirk.... I get lost in this like very few films. I find the Television setting adds to the movie feel so I sense more that I am there with them. The sets are all inside but the arrangement makes me feel trees and an English manor and lawns and with marriage tent. I do not find Oliver's age to be a problem. He seems just right for a late 18th century man marrying later with odd ideas about the value of "True Love". Nan Christie's solo (I really love her smile) in the library is beautiful and fun, and so is the nuanced and so very polite minuette between Donald Adams and Nuala Willis. I feel such sympathy for their frustration of wanting rush into each others arms after years but being politely restrained. The story as played almost becomes very suggestive of a wildness that makes me feel it is racy and yet it is not. The minister's reveries of a past of love that might have been.... I just feels like a dream with much cheer and fun and in another time and place, that at the end with a fair ground like dance and whirl, and they the hit the cricket ball into heaven where the Sorcerer sits on a star (nice, touches like this throughout) I am thinking: "I will go back to that world again. That was fun and beautiful."
But, get the Opera World set. I think it is worth it if you like this type of thing. I really disagree with the negative comments from Opera purists who have live memories they compare with. The sets are well done.
Read more ›
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By Charles L. Duval on November 9, 2013
Format: DVD
In this very uneven series made for BBC-TV some years ago, The Sorcerer stands out as one of the best of the bunch. Why? There's nothing special about this early G&S work, apart from its introduction of several important cliches that follow these operas throughout the rest of their creations. The casting is superb, the look of the production is like that of a pre-Dickens valentine in a pleasant English countryside locale. The music is well-sung, and it is a pleasure to watch and listen to. Typical with G&S, many of the people in this story are complete jerks. The Leading Man is a stupid, insensitive moron. The Leading Lady is as spineless as jellyfish. The party's host and hostess are delightful, and the Sorcerer himself (a mealy-mouthed Wizard named John Wellington Wells) is played by no less than the original Emperor Palpatine from The Empire Strikes Back--and somehow it fits! I have to ask myself which school of Hogwartz did he actually belong to? I'd say either Ravenclaw or Slytherin. In any case, this is a lot of fun, and I've no doubt you will like it.
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By Aldo Ray Fan on April 16, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This has to be one of the most enchanting things I've ever seen! The music is melodic and has variety, the performers seem to me to be ideally suited for their roles, and perhaps, best of all, is the atmosphere of genuine, almost child-like fun that comes through here. Even the dancing impresses me as being absolutely wonderful in its own deliberately "goofy" way, with the final five minutes of choreography so heartwarming, I could watch it over and over again. Even though I'd never experienced this work before coming to this performance, I can hardly imagine anything else being more delightful than this.
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This version of "The Sorcerer" by Gilbert & Sullivan is reliable and lively, and is specifically produced for video, not stage. The cast is skillful and professional, choreography is fun, and the plot clearly revealed. Granted, the music is not Sullivan's greatest, and there are few really memorable numbers, but there are lovely parts. At times the pacing of this production drags a bit, but the comic scenes are carried off with aplomb. A good introduction to the operetta.
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