Gilbert and Sullivan

Gilbert and Sullivan

Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian era partnership of librettist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900). Together, they wrote fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which "H.M.S. Pinafore", "The Pirates of Penzance", and "The Mikado" are among the best known. [cite news |last=Davis |first=Peter G |date=21 January 2002 |title=Smooth Sailing |work=New York |url= |accessdate= 2007-11-06 ]

Gilbert, who wrote the words, created fanciful topsy-turvy worlds for these operas, where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion—fairies rub elbows with British lords, flirting is a capital offence, gondoliers ascend to the monarchy, and pirates turn out to be noblemen who have gone wrong.cite news |first=Mike |last=Leigh |authorlink=Mike Leigh |title=True anarchists |url=,,1938719,00.html |work=The Guardian |date=4 November 2007 |accessdate=2007-11-06 ] Sullivan, seven years younger than Gilbert, composed the music, contributing memorable melodies [Sir George Grove: "Form and symmetry he seems to possess by instinct; rhythm and melody clothe everything he touches; the music shows not only sympathetic genius, but sense, judgement, proportion, and a complete absence of pedantry and pretension; while the orchestration is distinguished by a happy and original beauty hardly surpassed by the greatest masters." cite news |title=Arthur Sullivan 1842–1900 |url= |work=The Musical Times |date=December 1900 |accessdate=2007-11-06 ] that could convey both humour and pathos. [Gian Andrea Mazzucato in "The Musical Standard" of 16 December 1899: " [Sullivan] ... will... be classed among the epoch-making composers, the select few whose genius and strength of will empowered them to find and found a national school of music, that is, to endow their countrymen with the undefinable, yet positive means of evoking in a man's soul, by the magic of sound, those delicate nuances of feeling which are characteristic of the emotional power of each different race." Quoted in the "Sir Arthur Sullivan Society Journal", No. 34, Spring 1992, pp. 11-12]

Producer Richard D'Oyly Carte brought Gilbert and Sullivan together and nurtured their collaboration.cite web |url= |title=The Carpet Quarrel Explained |accessdate=2007-11-06 |last=Crowther |first=Andrew |date=28 June 1997 |publisher=The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive] He built the Savoy Theatre in 1881 to present their joint works—which came to be known as the Savoy Operas—and he founded the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which performed and promoted their works for over a century.

The Gilbert and Sullivan operas have enjoyed broad and enduring international success and are still performed frequently throughout the English-speaking world. [Bradley (2005), Chapter 1] The collaboration introduced innovations in content and form that directly influenced the development of musical theatre through the 20th century.cite news |last=Downs |first=Peter |title=Actors Cast Away Cares |work=Hartford Courant |date=18 October 2006] The operas have also influenced political discourse, literature, film and television and have been widely parodied and pastiched by humorists.


Gilbert before Sullivan

Gilbert was born in London on 18 November 1836. His father William was a naval surgeon who later wrote novels and short stories, some of which included illustrations by his son.Crowther, Andrew. [ "The Life of W. S. Gilbert".] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21.] In 1861, the younger Gilbert began to write illustrated stories, poems and articles of his own to supplement his income. Many of these would later be mined as a source of ideas for his plays and operas, particularly his series of illustrated poems called the "Bab Ballads". [Stedman, pp. 26–29, 123–24, and the introduction to Gilbert's "Foggerty's Fairy and Other Tales"] In the "Bab Ballads" and his early plays, Gilbert developed a unique "topsy-turvy" style, where the humour was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. Mike Leigh describes the "Gilbertian" style as follows:

Gilbert developed his innovative theories on the art of stage direction, following theatrical reformer Tom Robertson. At the time Gilbert began writing, theatre in Britain was in disrepute. [Bond, Jessie. [ "The Reminiscences of Jessie Bond: Introduction"] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21. Bond created the mezzo-soprano roles in most of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas and is here leading in to a description of Gilbert's role in reforming the Victorian theatre.] Gilbert helped to reform and elevate the respectability of the theatre, especially beginning with his six short family-friendly comic operas, or "entertainments," for Thomas German Reed. [Stedman, pp. 62–68; Bond, Jessie, [ The Reminiscences of Jessie Bond: Introduction.] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21.]

At a rehearsal for one of these entertainments, "Ages Ago" (1869), the composer Frederic Clay introduced Gilbert to his friend, the young composer Arthur Sullivan.Crowther, Andrew. [ Ages Ago—Early Days.] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21.] Two years later, Gilbert and Sullivan would write their first work together. Those two intervening years continued to shape Gilbert's theatrical style. He continued to write humorous verse, stories and plays, including the comic operas "Our Island Home" (1870) and "A Sensation Novel" (1871), and the blank verse comedies "The Princess" (1870), "The Palace of Truth" (1870), and "Pygmalion and Galatea".

ullivan before Gilbert

Sullivan was born in London on 13 May 1842. His father was a military bandmaster, and by the time Arthur had reached the age of 8, he was proficient with all the instruments in the band. In school he began to compose anthems and songs. In 1856, he received the first Mendelssohn Prize and studied at the Royal Academy of Music and at Leipzig, where he also took up conducting. His graduation piece, completed in 1861, was a suite of incidental music to Shakespeare's "The Tempest". Revised and expanded, it was performed at the Crystal Palace in 1862 and was an immediate sensation. He began building a reputation as England's most promising young composer, composing a symphony, a concerto, and several overtures, among them the "Overture di Ballo", in 1870. [ [ Interview by Arthur H. Lawrence, Part 1] , "The Strand Magazine", Volume xiv, No.84 (December 1897) See also [ Sullivan's Letter to "The Times"] , 27 October 1881, Issue 30336, pg. 8 col C]

His early major works for the voice included "The Masque at Kenilworth" (1864); an oratorio, "The Prodigal Son" (1869); and a dramatic cantata, "On Shore and Sea" (1871). He composed a ballet, "L'Île Enchantée" (1864) and incidental music for a number of Shakespeare plays. Other early pieces that were praised were his "Symphony in E", "Concerto for Cello and Orchestra", and "Overture in C (In Memoriam)" (all three of which premiered in 1866). [Shepherd, Marc, [ "Discography of Sir Arthur Sullivan: Orchestral and Band Music"] at The Gilbert and Sullivan Discography. Includes descriptions of the works, Retrieved 2007-06-10.] These commissions, however, were not sufficient to keep Sullivan afloat. He worked as a church organist and composed numerous hymns, popular songs, and parlour ballads. [ Stephen Turnbull's Biography of W. S. Gilbert] at the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, Retrieved 2006-11-22]

Sullivan's first foray into comic opera was "Cox and Box" (1866), written with librettist F. C. Burnand for an informal gathering of friends. Public performance followed, with W. S. Gilbert (then writing dramatic criticism for "Fun") saying that Sullivan's score "is, in many places, of too high a class for the grotesquely absurd plot to which it is wedded." [Harris, Roger, ed. (1999). Cox and Box. Chorleywood, Herts., UK: R. Clyde. pp. X–XI] Nonetheless, it proved highly successful, and is still regularly performed today. Sullivan and Burnand's second opera, "The Contrabandista" (1867) was not as successful.


First collaborations


] [Jean-Bernard Piat: "Guide du mélomane averti", Le Livre de Poche 8026, Paris 1992]

"Thespis" opened on Boxing Day and ran for 63 performances. It outran five of its nine competitors for the 1871 holiday season, but no one at the time anticipated that this was the beginning of a great collaboration. Unlike the later G&S works, it was hastily prepared, and its nature was more risqué, like Gilbert's earlier travesties, with a broader style of comedy that allowed for improvisation by the actors. Two of the male characters were played by women, whose shapely legs were put on display in a fashion that Gilbert later condemned. The musical score to "Thespis" was never published and is now lost, except for one song that was published separately, a chorus that was re-used in "The Pirates of Penzance", and the Act II ballet.

Over the next four years, Gilbert and Sullivan did not have occasion to work together again, but each man became more eminent in his field. Gilbert worked with Clay on "Happy Arcadia" (1872) and with Alfred Cellier on "Topsyturveydom" (1874), as well as writing several other libretti, farces, extravaganzas, fairy comedies, dramas, adaptations from novels, and translations from the French. Sullivan completed his "Festival Te Deum" (1872); another oratorio, "The Light of the World" (1873); his only song cycle, "The Window; or, The Song of the Wrens" (1871); incidental music to "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (1874); and more songs, parlour ballads, and hymns, including "Onward, Christian Soldiers" (1872).

"Trial by Jury"

In 1874, Gilbert wrote a short libretto on commission from producer–composer Carl Rosa, whose wife would have played the leading role, but her death in childbirth cancelled the project and left the libretto an orphan. Not long afterwards, Richard D'Oyly Carte was managing the Royalty Theatre, and he needed a short opera to be played as an afterpiece to Offenbach's "La Périchole". Gilbert already had available the libretto he had written for Rosa, and Carte suggested that Sullivan write the score. The composer was delighted with it, and "Trial by Jury" was composed in a matter of weeks. [Barker, John W. [ "Gilbert and Sullivan"] , Madison Savoyards, Ltd., Retrieved on 2007-05-21, quotes Sullivan's recollection of Gilbert reading the libretto of "Trial by Jury" to him: "As soon as he had come to the last word he closed up the manuscript violently, apparently unconscious of the fact that he had achieved his purpose so far as I was concerned, in as much as I was screaming with laughter the whole time."] The piece is one of Gilbert's humorous spoofs of the law and the legal profession, based on his brief experience as a barrister. It concerns a breach of promise of marriage suit. The defendant argues that damages should be slight, since "he is such a very bad lot," while the plaintiff argues that she loves the defendant fervently and seeks "substantial damages." After much argument, the judge resolves the case by marrying the lovely plaintiff himself. With Sullivan's brother, Fred, as the Learned Judge, the opera was a runaway hit, outlasting the run of "La Périchole". Provincial tours and productions at other theatres quickly followed. [Walbrook, H. M. (1922), [ "Gilbert and Sullivan Opera, a History and Comment" (Chapter 3).] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21.]

Fred Sullivan was the prototype for the "patter" (comic) baritone roles in the later operas. F. C. Burnand wrote that he "was one of the most naturally "comic little men" I ever came across. He, too, was a first-rate practical musician... As he was the most absurd person, so was he the very kindliest..." [Ayer p. 408] Fred's creation would serve as a model for the rest of the collaborators' works, and each of them has a crucial "comic little man" role, as Burnand had put it. The "patter" baritone (or "principal comedian", as these roles later were called) would often assume the leading role in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas, and was usually allotted the speedy patter songs.

After the success of "Trial by Jury", Gilbert and Sullivan were suddenly in demand to write more operas together. Over the next two years, Richard D'Oyly Carte was one of several theatrical managers who negotiated with the team but were unable to come to terms. Carte also proposed a revival of "Thespis" for the 1875 Christmas season, which Gilbert and Sullivan would have revised, but he was unable to obtain financing for the project.

Early successes

"The Sorcerer"

Carte's real ambition was to develop an English form of light opera that would displace the bawdy burlesques and badly translated French operettas then dominating the London stage. He assembled a syndicate and formed the Comedy Opera Company, with Gilbert and Sullivan commissioned to write a comic opera that would serve as the centrepiece for an evening's entertainment.

Gilbert found a subject in one of his own short stories, "The Elixir of Love," which concerned the complications arising when a love potion is distributed to all the residents of a small village. The leading character was a Cockney businessman who happened to be a sorcerer, a purveyor of blessings (not much called for) and curses (very popular). Gilbert and Sullivan were tireless taskmasters, seeing to it that "The Sorcerer" opened as a fully polished production, in marked contrast to the under-rehearsed "Thespis". [ [ "The Sorcerer"] at The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, Retrieved on 2007-05-21.] While "The Sorcerer" won critical acclaim, it did not duplicate the success of "Trial by Jury". Nevertheless, Carte and his syndicate were sufficiently encouraged to commission another full-length opera from the team.

"H.M.S. Pinafore"

Gilbert and Sullivan scored their first international hit with "H.M.S. Pinafore" (1878), satirising the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority and poking good-natured fun at the Royal Navy and the English obsession with social status (building on a theme introduced in "The Sorcerer", love between members of different social classes). As with many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise twist changes everything dramatically near the end of the story.

Gilbert oversaw the designs of sets and costumes, and he directed the performers on stage. [Gilbert was strongly influenced by the innovations in 'stagecraft', now called stage direction, by the playwrights James Planche and especially Tom Robertson. See Gilbert, W. S., [ "A Stage Play"] ; and Bond, Jessie, [ Introduction] , etc.] He sought realism in acting, shunned self-conscious interaction with the audience, and insisted on a standard of characterisation where the characters were never aware of their own absurdity.Cox-Ife, William. "W. S. Gilbert: Stage Director". Dobson, 1978 ISBN 0-234-77206-9.] Gilbert insisted that his actors know their words perfectly and obey his stage directions, which was something new to many actors of the day. Sullivan personally oversaw the musical preparation. The result was a new crispness and polish in the English musical theatre. ["That Gilbert was a good director is not in doubt. He was able to extract from his actors natural, clear performances, which served the Gilbertian requirements of outrageousness delivered straight." [,,1938719,00.html Mike Leigh interview] ] [Baily, p. 335] As Jessie Bond wrote later:

"H.M.S. Pinafore" ran in London for 571 performances, [Bradley (1996), p. 115] the second longest run of any musical theatre piece in history up to that time (after the operetta "Les cloches de Corneville"). [ [ List of longest running London shows up to 1920] ] Hundreds of unauthorized, or "pirated", productions of "Pinafore" appeared in America. [Rosen, Zvi S. [ The Twilight of the Opera Pirates: A Prehistory of the Right of Public Performance for Musical Compositions.] "Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal", Vol. 24, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-05-21. See also Prestige, Colin. "D'Oyly Carte and the Pirates", a paper presented at the International Conference of G&S held at the University of Kansas, May 1970] During the run of "Pinafore", Richard D'Oyly Carte split up with his former investors. The disgruntled former partners, who had each invested in the production with no return, staged a public fracas, sending a group of thugs to seize the scenery during a performance. Stagehands successfully managed to ward off their backstage attackers. [ [ Article about the fracas during "Pinafore" at the Opera Comique] ] This event cleared the way for Carte, Gilbert and Sullivan to form the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which then produced all of their succeeding operas.

The libretto of "H.M.S. Pinafore" relied on stock character types, many of which were familiar from European opera (and some of which grew out of Gilbert's earlier association with the German Reeds): the heroic protagonist (tenor) and his love-interest (soprano); the older woman with a secret or a sharp tongue (contralto); the baffled lyric baritone—the girl's father; and a classic villain (bass-baritone). Gilbert and Sullivan added the element of the comic patter-singing character. With the success of "H.M.S. Pinafore", the D'Oyly Carte repertory and production system was cemented, and each opera would make use of these stock character types. Before "The Sorcerer", Gilbert had constructed his plays around the established stars of whatever theatre he happened to be writing for, as had been the case with "Thespis" and "Trial by Jury". Building on the team he had assembled for "The Sorcerer", Gilbert no longer hired stars; he created them. He and Sullivan selected the performers, writing their operas for ensemble casts rather than individual stars.

The repertory system ensured that the comic patter character who performed the role of the sorcerer, John Wellington Wells, would become the ruler of the Queen's navy as Sir Joseph Porter in "H.M.S. Pinafore", then join the army as Major-General Stanley in "The Pirates of Penzance", and so on. Similarly, Mrs. Partlet in "The Sorcerer" transformed into Little Buttercup in "Pinafore", then into Ruth, the piratical maid-of-all-work in "Pirates". Relatively unknown performers whom Gilbert and Sullivan engaged early in the collaboration would stay with the company for many years, becoming stars of the Victorian stage. These included George Grossmith, the principal comic; Rutland Barrington, the lyric baritone; Richard Temple, the bass-baritone; and Jessie Bond, the mezzo-soprano soubrette.

"The Pirates of Penzance"

, the Major-General bids them: "resume your ranks and legislative duties, and take my daughters, all of whom are beauties!"

The piece premiered first in New York rather than London, in an (unsuccessful) attempt to secure the American copyright, and was another big success with both critics and audiences. [ [ Transcription of an opening night review in New York] ] Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte tried for many years to control the American performance copyrights over their operas, without success. [ [ Article on the pirating of G&S operas (and other works) and the development of performance copyrights] ] Nevertheless, "Pirates" was a hit in both New York, again spawning numerous imitators, and then in London, and it became one of the most frequently performed, translated and parodied Gilbert and Sullivan works, also enjoying a successful 1981 Broadway revival by Joseph Papp.

In 1880, Sullivan wrote the cantata "The Martyr of Antioch", presented at the Leeds Triennial Music Festival, with a libretto modified by Gilbert from an 1822 epic poem by Henry Hart Milman concerning the martyrdom of St. Margaret of Antioch in the 3rd century. Sullivan became the conductor of the Leeds festival beginning in 1880 and conducted the performance. It could be said that "Martyr" was the 15th opera of the partnership, since the Carl Rosa Opera Company presented the work as an opera in 1898. [ [ Web page devoted to "Martyr" at the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive] ]

avoy Theatre opens


"Patience" (1881) satirised the aesthetic movement in general and its colourful poets, in particular, combining aspects of Algernon Charles Swinburne, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, James McNeill Whistler and others in the rival poets Bunthorne and Grosvenor. Grossmith, who created the role of Bunthorne, based his makeup, wig and costume on Swinburne and especially Whistler, as seen in the adjacent photo. [Ellmann, Richard "Oscar Wilde", (Knopf, 1988) pp. 135 and 151-152 ISBN 0-394-55484-1] The work also lampoons male vanity and chauvinism in the military. The story concerns two rival "aesthetic" poets, who attract the attention of the young ladies of the village, who had been engaged to the members of a cavalry regiment. But the two poets are each in love with Patience, the village milkmaid, who detests one of them and feels that it is her duty to avoid the other despite her love for him. Richard D'Oyly Carte was the booking manager for Oscar Wilde, a then lesser-known proponent of aestheticism, and dispatched Wilde on an American lecture tour in conjunction with the opera's U.S. run, so that American audiences might better understand what the satire was all about.

During the run of "Patience", Carte built the large, modern Savoy Theatre, which became the partnership's permanent home. It was the first theatre (indeed the world's first public building) to be lit entirely by electric lighting. [See [ this article on the Savoy Theatre] from, Retrieved on 2007-07-20. See also [ this article from the Ambassador Theatre Group Limited] ] "Patience" moved into the Savoy after six months at the Opera Comique and ran for a total of 578 performances, surpassing the run of "H.M.S. Pinafore" and becoming the second longest-running work of musical theatre up to that time in history.The longest was the operetta "Les Cloches de Corneville", which held the title until "Dorothy" in 1886. See [ this article on longest runs in the theatre up to 1920] ]


"Iolanthe" (1882) was the first of the operas to open at the Savoy. The fully electric Savoy made possible numerous special effects, such as sparkling magic wands for the female chorus of fairies. The opera poked fun at English law and the House of Lords and made much of the war between the sexes. The critics felt that Sullivan's work in "Iolanthe" had taken a step forward. "The Daily Telegraph" wrote, "The composer has risen to his opportunity, and we are disposed to account "Iolanthe" his best effort in all the Gilbertian series." [Quoted in Allen 1975b, p. 176] Similarly, the "Theatre" asserted that "the music of "Iolanthe" is Dr Sullivan's "chef d'oeuvre". The quality throughout is more even, and maintained at a higher standard, than in any of his earlier works..." [William Beatty-Kingston, "Theatre", 1 January 1883, quoted in Baily 1966, p. 246]

"Iolanthe" is one of a number of Gilbert's works, including "The Wicked World" (1873), "Broken Hearts" (1875), "Princess Ida" (1884) and "Fallen Fairies" (1909), where the introduction of men and "mortal love" into a tranquil world of women wreaks havoc with the status quo. [ [ Article on "Broken Hearts" from the G&S Archive] ] Gilbert had created several "fairy comedies" at the Haymarket Theatre in the early 1870s. These plays, influenced by the fairy work of James Planché, are founded upon the idea of self-revelation by characters under the influence of some magic or some supernatural interference. [ [ "The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes" (1907–21). Volume XIII. "The Victorian Age", Part One. VIII. Nineteenth-Century Drama, § 15. W. S. Gilbert.] ]

), heard a direct relay of parts of "Iolanthe" from the Savoy. This was probably the first live "broadcast" of an opera. [Bradley (1996), p. 176]

During the run of "Iolanthe", in 1883, Sullivan was knighted by Queen Victoria. Although it was the operas with Gilbert that had earned him the broadest fame, the honour was conferred for his services to serious music. The musical establishment, and many critics, believed that this should put an end to his career as a composer of comic opera—that a musical knight should not stoop below oratorio or grand opera. [Baily, p. 250] Sullivan, despite the financial security of writing for the Savoy, increasingly viewed his work with Gilbert as unimportant, beneath his skills, and repetitious. Furthermore, he was unhappy that he had to simplify his music to ensure that Gilbert's words could be heard. But paradoxically, in February 1883, just after "Iolanthe" opened, Sullivan had signed a five-year agreement with Gilbert and Carte requiring him to produce a new comic opera on six months' notice.

"Princess Ida"

"Princess Ida" (1884) spoofed women's education and male chauvinism and continued the theme from "Iolanthe" of the war between the sexes. The opera is based on Tennyson's poem "The Princess: A Medley". Gilbert had written a blank verse farce based on the same material in 1870, called "The Princess", and he reused a good deal of the dialogue from his earlier play in the libretto of "Princess Ida". "Ida" is the only Gilbert and Sullivan work with dialogue entirely in blank verse and is also the only one of their works in three acts. Lillian Russell had been engaged to create the title role, but Gilbert did not believe that she was dedicated enough, and when she missed a rehearsal, she was dismissed. [Stedman, pp. 200-01]

"Princess Ida" was the first of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas that, by the partnership's previous standards, was not a success. A particularly hot summer in London did not help ticket sales. The piece ran for a comparatively short 246 performances and was not revived in London until 1919. Sullivan had been satisfied with the libretto, but two months after "Ida" opened, Sullivan told Carte that "it is impossible for me to do another piece of the character of those already written by Gilbert and myself." As "Princess Ida" showed signs of flagging, Carte realized that, for the first time in the partnership's history, no new opera would be ready when the old one closed. On 22 March 1884, he gave Gilbert and Sullivan contractual notice that a new opera would be required in six months' time. [Jacobs, p. 187] In the meantime, when "Ida" closed, Carte produced a revival of "The Sorcerer".

Dodging the magic lozenge

"The Mikado"

The most successful of the Savoy Operas was "The Mikado" (1885), which made fun of English bureaucracy, thinly disguised by a Japanese setting. Gilbert initially proposed a story for a new opera about a magic lozenge that would change the characters, [Gilbert eventually found another opportunity to present his "lozenge plot" in "The Mountebanks", written with Alfred Cellier in 1892] which Sullivan found artificial and lacking in "human interest and probability", as well as being too similar to their earlier opera, "The Sorcerer". As dramatised in the film "Topsy-Turvy", [albeit with the repetition of the apocryphal sword-falling story, see Jones, Brian (Spring 1985), "The sword that never fell", "W. S. Gilbert Society Journal" 1 (1): 22–25] the author and composer were at an impasse until 8 May 1884, when Gilbert dropped the lozenge idea and agreed to provide a libretto without any supernatural elements.

The story focuses on a "cheap tailor," Ko-Ko, who is promoted to the position of Lord High Executioner of the town of Titipu. Ko-Ko loves his ward, Yum-Yum, but she loves a musician, who is really the son of the emperor of Japan (the Mikado), and who is in disguise to escape the attentions of the elderly and amorous Katisha. The Mikado has decreed that executions must resume without delay in Titipu. When news arrives that the Mikado will be visiting the town, Ko-Ko assumes that he is coming to ascertain whether Ko-Ko has carried out the executions. Too timid to execute anyone, Ko-Ko cooks up a conspiracy to misdirect the Mikado, which goes awry. Eventually, Ko-Ko must persuade Katisha to marry him, in order to save his own life and the lives of the other conspirators.

With the opening of trade between England and Japan, Japanese imports, art and styles became fashionable in London, making the time ripe for an opera set in Japan. Gilbert said,

Setting the opera in Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, allowed Gilbert and Sullivan to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by clothing them in superficial Japanese trappings. Gilbert wrote, "The Mikado of the opera was an imaginary monarch of a remote period and cannot by any exercise of ingenuity be taken to be a slap on an existing institution." [ [ Review of "The Mikado" discussing the depiction of Japan in "The Mikado"] ] G. K. Chesterton compared it to Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels": "Gilbert pursued and persecuted the evils of modern England till they had literally not a leg to stand on, exactly as Swift did... I doubt if there is a single joke in the whole play that fits the Japanese. But all the jokes in the play fit the English... About England Pooh-bah is something more than a satire; he is the truth." [ [ Lyric Opera San Diego site] ] Several of the later operas are similarly set in foreign or fictional locales, including "The Gondoliers", "Utopia Limited", and "The Grand Duke".

"The Mikado" became the partnership's longest-running hit, enjoying 672 performances at the Savoy Theatre, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre (surpassing the 571 performances of "Pinafore" and 576 of "Patience") and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. [The longest-running piece of musical theatre was the operetta "Les Cloches de Corneville", which held the title until "Dorothy" in 1886. See [ this article on longest runs in the theatre up to 1920] ] "The Mikado" remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera. [ [ Note on the popularity of "The Mikado"] ] It has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. [ [ See here] [ and here] ]


"Ruddigore" (1887), a topsy-turvy take on Victorian melodrama, was less successful than most of the earlier collaborations with a run of 288 performances. The original title, "Ruddygore", together with some of the plot devices, including the revivification of ghosts, drew negative comments from critics. [ [ See the Pall Mall Gazette's satire of "Ruddygore".] Gilbert's response to being told the two spellings meant the same thing was: "Not at all, for that would mean that if I said that I admired your ruddy countenance, which I do, I would be saying that I liked your bloody cheek, which I don't." See [ this article at Harvard's website] and [ this information from the Australian G&S site.] ] Gilbert and Sullivan respelled the title and made a number of changes and cuts. [A copy of the "Ruddigore" libretto, including material cut before the first night and during the initial run, is PDFlink| [ available here.] |294 KiB ] Nevertheless, the piece was profitable, [ [ Information from the book "Tit-Willow or Notes and Jottings on Gilbert and Sullivan Operas"] by Guy H. and Claude A. Walmisley (Privately Printed, Undated, early 20th century)] and the reviews were not all bad. For instance, the "Illustrated London News" praised the work and both Gilbert and, especially, Sullivan: "Sir Arthur Sullivan has eminently succeeded alike in the expression of refined sentiment and comic humour. In the former respect, the charm of graceful melody prevails; while, in the latter, the music of the most grotesque situations is redolent of fun." [ [ "Illustrated London News" Review of "Ruddygore" dated 9 January 1887] ] Further changes were made, including a new overture, when Rupert D'Oyly Carte revived "Ruddigore" after the First World War, and the piece was regularly performed by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company thereafter. [Critical apparatus in Hulme, David Russell, ed., "Ruddigore". Oxford: Oxford University Press (2000)]

Some of the plot elements of "Ruddigore" were introduced by Gilbert in his earlier one-act opera, "Ages Ago" (1869), including the tale of the wicked ancestor and the device of the ghostly ancestors stepping out of their portraits. When "Ruddigore" closed, no new opera was ready. Gilbert again proposed a version of the "lozenge" plot for their next opera, and Sullivan reiterated his desire to leave the partnership. While the two men worked out their artistic differences, Carte produced revivals of such old favourites as "H.M.S. Pinafore", "The Pirates of Penzance", and "The Mikado".

"The Yeomen of the Guard"

, rather than as a sequential pot-pourri of tunes from the opera, as in most of his other overtures. The "Daily Telegraph" wrote:

"Yeomen" was a hit, running for over a year, with strong New York and touring productions. During the run, on 12 March 1889, Sullivan wrote to Gilbert,

Sullivan insisted that the next opera must be a grand opera. Gilbert did not feel that he could write a grand opera libretto, but he offered a compromise that Sullivan ultimately accepted. The two would write a light opera for the Savoy, and at the same time, Sullivan a grand opera ("Ivanhoe") for a new theatre that Carte was constructing to present British grand opera. After a brief impasse over the choice of subject, Sullivan accepted an idea connected with Venice and Venetian life, as "this seemed to me to hold out great chances of bright colour and taking music." [Jacobs, p. 288]

"The Gondoliers"

.] Gilbert recapitulates a number of his earlier themes, including the satire of class distinctions figuring in many of his earlier librettos. The libretto also reflects Gilbert's fascination with the "Stock Company Act", highlighting the absurd convergence of natural persons and legal entities, which plays an even larger part in the next opera, "Utopia Limited". Press accounts were almost entirely favourable. The "Illustrated London News" reported:

Sullivan's old collaborator on "Cox and Box" (later the editor of "Punch" magazine), F. C. Burnand, wrote to the composer: "Magnificento!...I envy you and W.S.G. being able to place a piece like this on the stage in so complete a fashion." The opera enjoyed a run longer than any of their other joint works except for "H.M.S. Pinafore" and "The Mikado". There was a command performance of "The Gondoliers" for Queen Victoria and the royal family at Windsor Castle in 1891, the first Gilbert and Sullivan opera to be so honoured. "The Gondoliers" was Gilbert and Sullivan's last great success.

Carpet quarrel

Gilbert and Sullivan sometimes had a strained working relationship, partly caused by the fact that each man saw himself allowing his work to be subjugated to the other's, and partly caused by the opposing personalities of the two—Gilbert was often confrontational and notoriously thin-skinned (though prone to acts of extraordinary kindness), while Sullivan eschewed conflict. [See, e.g., Stedman, pp. 254-56 and 323-24 and Ainger, pp. 193-94.] In addition, Gilbert imbued his libretti with "topsy-turvy" situations in which the social order was turned upside down. After a time, these subjects were often at odds with Sullivan's desire for realism and emotional content. [See, e.g. Ainger, p. 288, or Wolfson, p. 3] Also, Gilbert's political satire often poked fun at the wealthy and powerful whom Sullivan sought out for friendship and patronage. [See, e.g. Jacobs, p. 73; Crowther, Andrew, [ The Life of W.S. Gilbert.] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21; and Bond, Jessie, [ The Reminiscences of Jessie Bond: Chapter 16.] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21]

Gilbert and Sullivan quarrelled several times over the choice of a subject. After both "Princess Ida" and "Ruddigore", which were less successful than the seven other operas from "H.M.S. Pinafore" to "The Gondoliers", Sullivan asked to leave the partnership, saying that he found Gilbert's plots repetitive and that the operas were not artistically satisfying to him. While the two artists worked out their differences, Carte kept the Savoy open with revivals of their earlier works. On each occasion, after a few months' pause, Gilbert responded with a libretto that met Sullivan's objections, and the partnership was able to continue successfully.

During the run of "The Gondoliers", however, Gilbert challenged Carte over the expenses of the production. Carte had charged the cost of a new carpet for the Savoy Theatre lobby to the partnership. Gilbert believed that this was a maintenance expense that should be charged to Carte alone. As scholar Andrew Crowther has explained:

Sullivan sided with Carte, who was building a theatre in London for the production of new English grand operas, with Sullivan's "Ivanhoe" as the inaugural work. While the protracted quarrel worked itself out in the courts and in public, Gilbert wrote "The Mountebanks" with Alfred Cellier and the flop "Haste to the Wedding" with George Grossmith, [ Gilbert's Plays.] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21.] and Sullivan also wrote "Haddon Hall" with Sidney Grundy.

In 1891, after many failed attempts at reconciliation by the pair and their producer, Richard D'Oyly Carte, Gilbert and Sullivan's music publisher, Tom Chappell, stepped in to mediate between two of his most profitable artists, and within two weeks he had succeeded. [Wolfson, p. 7]

Last works and legacy

"Utopia, Limited" (1893), their penultimate opera, was a very modest success, and "The Grand Duke" (1896) was an outright failure. [Wolfson, passim] Neither work entered the "canon" of regularly-performed Gilbert and Sullivan works until the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company made the first complete professional recordings of the two operas in the 1970s. Gilbert also offered Sullivan "His Excellency" (1894), but Gilbert's insistence on casting Nancy McIntosh, his protégée from "Utopia", led to Sullivan's refusal, and it was instead composed by F. Osmond Carr. [ Wolfson, pp. 61-65]

After "The Grand Duke", the partners saw no reason to work together again. Sullivan, by this time in exceedingly poor health, died four years later, although to the end he continued to write new comic operas for the Savoy with other librettists, most successfully with Basil Hood in "The Rose of Persia" (1899), and "The Emerald Isle" (1901) (finished by Edward German after Sullivan's death). By the time of Sullivan's death, Gilbert wrote that any memory of their rift had been "completely bridged over," and "the most cordial relations existed between us." He stated that Sullivan was "A composer of the rarest genius — who, because he was a composer of the rarest genius, was as modest and as unassuming as a neophyte should be, but seldom is... I remember all that he has done for me in allowing his genius to shed some of its lustre upon my humble name." [ [ Walbrook, Chapter 18] ] Gilbert went into semi-retirement, although he continued to direct revivals of the Savoy Operas and wrote new plays occasionally. He wrote only one more comic opera, "Fallen Fairies" (1909; music by Edward German), which was not a success. [Bailey, p. 425] Richard D'Oyly Carte died in 1901, and his widow, Helen, and then his son, Rupert, followed by his granddaughter, Bridget, continued to direct the activities of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which staged revivals of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas until it closed in 1982.

explained the enduring success of the collaboration as follows:

Because of the unusual success of the operas, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company were able, from the start, to license the works to other professional companies, such as the J. C. Williamson Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, and to amateur societies. For almost a century, until the British copyrights expired in 1961, and even afterwards, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company influenced productions of the operas worldwide, creating a "performing tradition" for most of the operas that is still referred to today by many directors. D'Oyly Carte produced several well-regarded recordings of most of the operas, helping to keep them popular through the decades.

Today, numerous professional repertory companies, [For example, NYGASP, Carl Rosa Opera Company, Somerset Opera, Opera della Luna, Opera a la Carte, Skylight opera theatre, Ohio Light Opera, and Washington Savoyards] opera companies, amateur societies, churches, schools and universities continue to produce the works. [ [ Websites of Performing Groups.] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University, Retrieved on 2007-05-21] The most popular G&S works are still performed from time to time by major opera companies, [ [ Performances, by city—Composer: Arthur Sullivan.], Retrieved on 2007-05-21] A three-week long International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival is held every August in Buxton, England.

Cultural influence

In the past 125 years, Gilbert and Sullivan have pervasively influenced popular culture in the English-speaking world, [Bradley (2005), Chapter 1.] and lines and quotations from the Gilbert and Sullivan operas have become part of the English language (even if not originated by Gilbert), such as "short, sharp shock", "What never? Well, hardly ever!", "let the punishment fit the crime", and "A policeman's lot is not a happy one".Green, Edward. [ "Ballads,songs, and speeches"] (sic). BBC, 20 September 2004. Retrieved on 2007-05-21.] [Lawrence, Arthur H. [ "An illustrated interview with Sir Arthur Sullivan"] Part 3, from "The Strand Magazine", Vol. xiv, No.84 (December 1897). Retrieved on 2007-05-21.] The operas have influenced political style and discourse, literature, film and television, have been widely parodied by humorists, and have been quoted in legal rulings. [References to Gilbert and Sullivan have appeared in the following U.S. Supreme Court rulings, for example, "Allied Chemical Corp. v. Daiflon, Inc.", 449 U.S. 33, 36 (1980) ("What never? Well, hardly ever!"); and "Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia", 448 U.S. 555, 604 (1980) (dissent of Justice Rehnquist, quoting the Lord Chancellor).]

The American and British musical owes a tremendous debt to G&S, [Bargainnier, Earl F. "W. S. Gilbert and American Musical Theatre", pp. 120–33, "American Popular Music: Readings from the Popular Press" by Timothy E. Scheurer, Popular Press, 1989 ISBN 0879724668] who were admired by and copied by early authors and composers such as Ivan Caryll, Adrian Ross, Lionel Monckton, P. G. Wodehouse, [ [,,-248,00.html PG Wodehouse (1881–1975),], Retrieved on 2007-05-21] [ [ List of allusions to G&S in Wodehouse] ] Guy Bolton, Victor Herbert, and Ivor Novello, and later Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. [Bradley (2005), p. 9] Gilbert's lyrics served as a model for such 20th-century Broadway lyricists as Cole Porter, [ [ Lesson 35—Cole Porter: You're the Top.], American Masters for Teachers, Retrieved on 2007-05-21.] Ira Gershwin, [Furia, Phillip. [ Ira Gershwin: The Art of a Lyricist.] Oxford University Press, Retrieved on 2007-05-21.] and Lorenz Hart. Noel Coward wrote: "I was born into a generation that still took light music seriously. The lyrics and melodies of Gilbert and Sullivan were hummed and strummed into my consciousness at an early age. My father sang them, my mother played them, my nurse, Emma, breathed them through her teeth.... My aunts and uncles... sang them singly and in unison at the slightest provocation...." [Introduction to "The Noel Coward Song Book", (London: Methuen, 1953), p. 9]

Gilbert and Sullivan expert and enthusiast Ian Bradley notes, however:

The works of Gilbert and Sullivan are themselves frequently pastiched. [ [ List of links to reviews and analysis of recordings of a number of G&S parodies] ] Well known examples of this include Tom Lehrer's The Elements, [ [ Review and analysis of Lehrer's G&S parodies] ] Allan Sherman's, The Two Ronnies [ [ The Two Ronnies's G&S parody is in their 1973 Christmas special] ] and Anna Russell's famous routines, [ [ Review and analysis of Russell's G&S parody] ] and the animated TV series "Animaniacs"' "HMS Yakko" episode. Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas are commonly referenced in literature, film and television in various ways that include extensive use of Sullivan's music or where action occurs during a performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. There are also a number of Gilbert and Sullivan biopics, such as Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy".

It is not surprising, given the focus of Gilbert on politics, that politicians and political observers have often found inspiration in these works. U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist added gold stripes to his judicial robes after seeing them used by the Lord Chancellor in a production of "Iolanthe". [ [ "Sporting stripes set Rehnquist apart".] Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online, September 4, 2005. Retrieved on 2007-05-26.] Alternatively, Lord Chancellor Charles Falconer is recorded as objecting so strongly to "Iolanthe"'s comic portrayal of Lord Chancellors that he supported moves to disband the office. British politicians, beyond quoting some of the more famous lines, have delivered speeches in the form of Gilbert and Sullivan pastiches. These include Conservative Peter Lilley's speech mimicking the form of "I've got a little list" from "The Mikado", listing those he was against, including "sponging socialists" and "young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue". Political humour based on Gilbert and Sullivan's style and characters continues to be written. [See, e.g., [ this "Daily Mail" editorial piece, dated June 29, 2007] ]


Major works and original London runs

*"Thespis", or, "The Gods Grown Old" (1871) 63 performances
*"Trial by Jury" (1875) 131 performances
*"The Sorcerer" (1877) 178 performances
*"H.M.S. Pinafore", or, "The Lass That Loved a Sailor" (1878) 571 performances
*"The Pirates of Penzance", or, "The Slave of Duty" (1879) 363 performances
*"The Martyr of Antioch" (cantata) (1880) (Gilbert modified the poem by Henry Hart Milman) N/A
*"Patience", or "Bunthorne's Bride" (1881) 578 performances
*"Iolanthe", or, "The Peer and the Peri" (1882) 398 performances
*"Princess Ida", or, "Castle Adamant" (1884) 246 performances
*"The Mikado", or, "The Town of Titipu" (1885) 672 performances
*"Ruddigore", or, "The Witch's Curse" (1887) 288 performances
*"The Yeomen of the Guard", or, "The Merryman and his Maid" (1888) 423 performances
*"The Gondoliers", or, "The King of Barataria" (1889) 554 performances
*"Utopia, Limited", or, "The Flowers of Progress" (1893) 245 performances
*"The Grand Duke", or, "The Statutory Duel" (1896) 123 performances

Parlour ballads

*The Distant Shore (1874)
*The Love that Loves Me Not (1875)
*Sweethearts (1875), based on Gilbert's 1874 play, "Sweethearts"


The overtures from the Gilbert and Sullivan operas remain popular, and there are many recordings of them. [Shepherd, Marc. [ Overtures,] "A Gilbert and Sullivan Discography (2005)] Most of them are structured as a "potpourri" of tunes from the operas. They are generally well-orchestrated, but not all of them were composed by Sullivan. However, even those delegated to his assistants were probably based on an outline he provided, and in many cases incorporated his suggestions or corrections. [Hughes, p. 130] Sullivan invariably conducted them (as well as the entire operas) on opening night, and they were included in the published scores approved by Sullivan.

Those Sullivan wrote himself include the overtures to "Thespis", "Iolanthe", "Princess Ida", "The Yeomen of the Guard", "The Gondoliers", and "The Grand Duke". Sullivan's authorship of the overture to "Utopia Limited" cannot be verified with certainty, as his autograph score is now lost, but it is likely attributable to him, as it consists of only a few bars of introduction, followed by a straight copy of music heard elsewhere in the opera (the Drawing Room scene). "Thespis" is now lost, but there is no doubt that Sullivan wrote its overture. [Rees, Terence. "Thespis - A Gilbert & Sullivan Enigma". London (1964): Dillon's University Bookshop, p.79.] Very early performances of "The Sorcerer" used a section of Sullivan's incidental music to Shakespeare's "Henry the VIII", as he did not have time to write a new overture, but this was later replaced.

Of those remaining, the overture to "Patience" is by Eugene d'Albert, [Ainger, at p. 195 writes, "That evening (April 21, 1881) Sullivan gave his sketch of the overture to Eugene D'Albert to score. D'Albert was a seventeen-year-old student at the National Training School (where Sullivan was the principal and supervisor of the composition dept.) and winner of the Mendelssohn Scholarship that year." Several months before that, Sullivan had given d'Albert the task of preparing a piano reduction of "The Martyr of Antioch" for use in choral rehearsals of that 1880 work. David Russell Hulme studied the handwriting in the score's manuscript and confirmed that it is that of Eugen, not of his father Charles (as had erroneously been reported by Jacobs), both of whose script he sampled and compared to the "Patience" manuscript. Hulme, Doctoral Thesis "The Operettas of Sir Arthur Sullivan: a study of available autograph full scores", 1985, University of Wales, pp. 242-43. The Thesis is available from a number of libraries (and many copies have been circulated) including The British Library Document Supply Centre, Boston Spa, Wetherby W. Yorks, Ref # DX171353, and Northern Illinois University, Call# :ML410.S95 H841986B.] and the overtures to "H.M.S. Pinafore" and "The Pirates of Penzance" are by Alfred Cellier. [Ainger, pp. 157 and 177] Those to "The Mikado" and "Ruddigore" are by Hamilton Clarke, [Stone, David (2001), [ "Hamilton Clarke",] "Who Was Who in the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company", The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive. Retrieved 14 July 2008] who also wrote the new overture to "The Sorcerer" for its 1884 revival. [Ainger, p. 140]

Most of the overtures are in three sections: a lively introduction, a slow middle section, and a concluding allegro in sonata form, with two subjects, a brief development, a recapitulation and a coda. However, Sullivan himself did not always follow this pattern. The overtures to "Princess Ida" and "The Gondoliers", for instance, have only an opening fast section and a concluding slow section. The overture to "Utopia Limited" is dominated by a slow section, with only a very brief original passage introducing it.

In the 1920s, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company commissioned its musical director at the time, Geoffrey Toye, to write new overtures for "Ruddigore" and "The Pirates of Penzance". Toye's "Ruddigore" overture entered the general repertory, and today is more often heard than the original overture by Clarke. [Shepherd, Marc, " [ The 1924 D'Oyly Carte Ruddigore] ", The Gilbert and Sullivan Discography. Retrieved 14 July 2008] Toye's "Pirates" overture, however, did not last long and is now presumed lost. [ [ Quoting 1932 letter from Geoffrey Toye] ] Sir Malcolm Sargent devised a new ending for the overture to "The Gondoliers", adding the "cachucha" from the second act of the opera. This gave the "Gondoliers" overture the familiar fast-slow-fast pattern of most of the rest of the Savoy Opera overtures, and this version has competed for popularity with Sullivan's original version.

Alternative versions


Gilbert and Sullivan operas have been translated into many languages, including Portuguese, Yiddish, Hebrew, Swedish, Danish, Estonian, Spanish (reportedly including a version of "Pinafore" transformed into zarzuela style), and many others.

There are many German versions of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, including the popular "Der Mikado". There is even a German version of "The Grand Duke". Some German translations were made by Friedrich Zell and Richard Genée, librettists of "Die Fledermaus", "Eine Nacht in Venedig" and other Viennese operettas, who even translated one of Sullivan's lesser-known operas, "The Chieftain", as "("Der Häuptling")."


* "Pirates of Penzance - The Ballet!" (formerly called "Pirates! The Ballet")
* "Pineapple Poll" - from a story by Gilbert - and music by Sullivan


*"The Swing Mikado" (1938; Chicago - all-black cast)
*"The Hot Mikado" (1939) and "Hot Mikado" (1986)
*"The Jazz Mikado"
*"The Black Mikado"
*"Hollywood Pinafore" (1945)
*"The Cool Mikado" (1962)
*"The Pirate Movie" (1982), starring Christopher Atkins and Kristy McNichol.
*"The Ratepayers' Iolanthe" (1984; Olivier Award-winning musical)
*"Di Yam Gazlonim" by Al Grand (1985; a Yiddish adaptation of "Pirates"; a New York production was nominated for a 2007 Drama Desk Award)
*"Pirates of Penzance - The Ballet!" (1991)
*"Parson's Pirates" by Opera della Luna (2002)
*"The Ghosts of Ruddigore" by Opera della Luna (2003)
*"Pinafore Swing", Watermill Theatre (2004, in which the actors serve as the orchestra, playing the musical instruments)

ee also

* D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
* The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, held annually in Buxton, England
* The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, the 1953 film



*cite book|last=Ayre|first=Leslie|year=1972|title=The Gilbert & Sullivan Companion|location=London|publisher=W.H. Allen & Co Ltd Introduction by Martyn Green.
*cite book|last=Benford|first=Harry|year=1999|title=The Gilbert & Sullivan Lexicon, 3rd Revised Edition|location=Ann Arbor, Michigan|publisher=The Queensbury Press|isbn = 0-9667916-1-4
* This book is [ available online at Google books.] Retrieved on 2007-06-10.
* This book is [ available online at Google books.] Retrieved on 2007-06-10.
* ( [ available online here] )
* ISBN 0-903443-12-0

Further reading


External links

General links

* [ The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive]
* [ Historical survey of G&S]
* [ University of Rochester's online Gilbert & Sullivan exhibit]
* [ Savoynet G&S discussion list - an email-based G&S listserv]
* [ The stories of G&S operas written for children]

Music and discographies

* [ MP3 files of music from "The Pirates of Penzance"] 2002 performance by The Manchester University Gilbert & Sullivan Society
* [ MP3 files of music from "The Mikado"] 1998 performance by The Manchester University Gilbert & Sullivan Society
* [ G&S Archive MIDI homepage]
* [ The Gilbert and Sullivan Discography]
* [ Links to reviews and analysis of numerous recordings of "G&S Derived Works"]

Appreciation society and performing group links

* [ The Gilbert and Sullivan Society, London]
* [ The New England Gilbert and Sullivan Society (includes links to other North American societies)]
* [ The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of New York]
* [ G&S Archive "Performing Groups" page] Comprehensive listing of performing companies.

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  • Gilbert and Sullivan — Gil|bert and Sul|li|van two British men, W.S. Gilbert (1836 1911) and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842 1900), who wrote many humorous ↑operettas (=plays with songs) from 1871 to 1896. Gilbert wrote the words and Sullivan wrote the music. Their operettas …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Gilbert and Sullivan — /ˌgɪlbət ən ˈsʌləvən/ (say .gilbuht uhn suluhvuhn) plural noun the English librettist William Gilbert and the English composer Arthur Sullivan who from 1871 to 1896 collaborated to create comic operettas; noted works include HMS Pinafore (1878),… …  

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  • Gilbert and Sullivan — Gil|bert and Sul|li|van [ ,gılbərt ən sʌlıvn ] two 19th century British writers of music who wrote funny OPERETTAS …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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