Portal:Gilbert and Sullivan

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Introduction

Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian-era theatrical partnership of the dramatist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and the composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900) and to the works they jointly created. The two men collaborated on 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.

Gilbert, who wrote the libretti for these operas, created fanciful "topsy-turvy" worlds 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 emerge as noblemen who have gone astray. Sullivan, six years Gilbert's junior, composed the music, contributing memorable melodies that could convey both humour and pathos.

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The Gondoliers
The Gondoliers, or The King of Barataria, is a Savoy Opera, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It premiered at the Savoy Theatre on December 7, 1889, and ran for a very successful 554 performances (at that time the fifth longest-running piece of musical theatre in history), closing on June 20, 1891. This was the twelfth comic opera collaboration of fourteen between Gilbert and Sullivan. The Gondoliers was Gilbert and Sullivan's last great success. In this opera, Gilbert returns to 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. As in several of their earlier operas, by setting the work comfortably far away from mother England, Gilbert was emboldened to direct sharper criticism at the nobility and the institution of the monarchy itself.

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Leonora Braham
Leonora Braham (3 February 1853 – 23 November 1931), born Leonora Lucy Abraham, was an English opera singer and actress primarily known as the creator of principal soprano roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas. Beginning in 1870, Braham starred for several years in the intimate musical German Reed Entertainments in London. In 1878, she moved to North America, where she continued to perform in comic opera. After returning to England, she was engaged by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, creating five of the principal soprano roles in the hit series of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, including the title role in Patience (1891), Phyllis in Iolanthe (1882), the title role in Princess Ida (1884), Yum-Yum in The Mikado (1885), and Rose Maybud in Ruddigore (1887). She also played Aline in the first revival of The Sorcerer (1884–85). After leaving the D'Oyly Carte organisation, Braham continued to perform in England and widely on tour, starring in comic opera and grand opera in Australia, South America and South Africa. By the mid-1890s, she returned to Britain, playing in musical comedy and light opera, briefly rejoining the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. She then continued to perform until 1912 in Britain and America, including with Lillie Langtry in plays without music.

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A very early wax cylinder recording (October 5, 1888) of Arthur Sullivan recording an audio letter to be sent back to Thomas Alva Edison at a phonograph party hosted by Edison's London representative, George Gouraud.

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Jessie Bond
Surely, I felt, it would interest a public that still loves the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas, and even outside that public the human story of a girl's ambitions and aspirations, of her struggle with adverse circumstances and the gradual attainment of her desires, must have value if told simply and sincerely.... I am one of the last of my generation. I have outlived prejudices and animosities, and can look back on my own life as on an interesting story. That I have tried to make it. An absolutely true story of struggle and gradual attainment may perhaps encourage some weary young aspirant, and to do that would alone make it well worth while.
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