HMS Pinafore

Definition

Theater

  • A comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, the first greatsuccess of their collaboration. Subtitled The Lass that Loved theSailor, it opened in 1878 at the Opera Comique Theatre, London,for a run of 571 performances. Gilbert's knighthood was supposedlydelayed for two decades because his characterization of Admiral SirJoseph Porter was too close to Disraeli's First Lord of the Admiralty,W. H. Smith (the newsagent). Gilbert was also berated for his daringuse of the word 'damn' on stage, having Captain Corcoran splutter"Damme!" when he hears that an officer's daughter is marryingone of the lower classes. The play also popularized the expression'What, never?'

    The story is set aboard HMS Pinafore, anchored offPortsmouth. The ship's commander, Captain Corcoran, has a lovely daughter,Josephine, who is engaged to Admiral Sir Joseph Porter but loves ahumble sailor, Ralph Rackstraw. When it is revealed that Corcoranand Rackstraw were mixed up as babies Josephine, now a commoner, isable to marry Rackstraw, now a captain.

    The songs include 'I'm Called Little Buttercup', 'I am theCaptain of the Pinafore', and 'When I was a Lad I Served aTerm'. see also Pinafore riot.

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