Broude Brothers Pinafore Vocal Score Critical Edition Published

H.M.S. Pinafore
Critical Edition of the Vocal Score
Edited by Percy M. Young
Broude Brothers Limited: New York & Williamstown, 2012
xvii+300 pages

Broude Brothers has, at long last, published the companion vocal score to go with the critical edition of the full score that appeared in 2003. I’m a member of the editorial board of Broude project, and I also made a number of specific contributions to this volume. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to review it. I can, however, tell you what it is, and try to describe the audience to whom it would be useful.

Like the Oxford University Press Ruddigore (ed. David Russell Hulme), the Broude Pinafore relies on original sources and is skeptical about admitting 20th-century performance practice that is not attested in earlier documents. Obviously, the history of the two works couldn’t be more different. After an inauspicious first run, Ruddigore sat on the shelf for over thirty years before Rupert D’Oyly Carte brought it back to life. As the authors never touched the work again, it is comparatively easy to distinguish what Gilbert & Sullivan wrote, from what Harry Norris and Geoffrey Toye decided, decades later, that they ought to have written.

Pinafore, in contrast, was never out of the repertory. There were many changes over the years, but it is difficult to say when. And it is just as difficult to say which textual readings Gilbert & Sullivan actively preferred, those that might have entered the text on tour during their lifetimes without their participation, and those that changed after their deaths.

It is my personal view that much of the performance tradition was transmitted orally, and a traditional reading is not necessarily corrupt, just because it is not attested in any document that passed through the authors’ hands. Nevertheless, the Broude editors’ skepticism is entirely justified, and I think many scholars would take the same approach. When a tradition isn’t attested in documents, it becomes mere guesswork as to what Gilbert & Sullivan might have approved of.

What makes the Broude Pinafore and the Oxford Ruddigore similar, is that in both cases the editions contain many readings that will be unfamiliar to those who’ve come to rely on modern scores. So I wouldn’t recommend either edition to a performing group, unless you are prepared to mandate that everyone use that edition, or unless the musical director is willing to prepare and circulate errata lists.

The edition is also of interest to those curious about the textual history of the work, or who would like to know precisely what is or is not authentic in the standard scores. The vocal score contains considerably less background material than Broude’s companion full score (which currently sells for $300). Nevertheless, there are 40-odd pages of introduction and critical apparatus. In contrast, the Oxford Ruddigore vocal score has no introduction or apparatus at all.

The suppressed passages for Cousin Hebe and the original recitative preceding the Act II finale are offered as appendices, and there are three alternate endings (the original one, “Rule Britannia,” and the 20th-century ending). However, the volume does not include the same publisher’s edition of the suppressed ballad for Captain Corcoran, “Reflect, my child,” discovered and reconstructed by Bruce Miller and Helga Perry, which remains available separately.

Broude uses a very leisurely typographical style that is easy on the eyes, but requires a lot of page turns. Not counting prefatory material and appendices, there are 255 pages of score, including dialogue, as compared to the Dover score’s 212 pages (also with dialogue), the Schirmer score’s 167 pages (with dialogue), or the most recent Cramer score’s 150 pages (without dialogue).

The Broude Brothers vocal score costs $25.00 and is available from the publisher (broudebrothers at verizon.net or 800-525-8559).

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