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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H.M.S. Pinafore
H.M.S. Pinafore, or The Lass that Loved a Sailor is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It is one of the Savoy Operas, and the first big hit by Gilbert and Sullivan. It opened at the Opera Comique in London on May 25 1878 for a run of 571 performances, which was the second longest run of any musical theatre piece up to that time (after the operetta Les Cloches de Corneville). H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan's fourth operatic collaboration. Drawing on several of his earlier "Bab Ballad" poems, Gilbert imbued H.M.S. Pinafore with mirth and silliness to spare. The opera's gentle satire reprises and builds on a theme introduced in The Sorcerer – love between members of different social classes. The opera also pokes good-natured fun at the Royal Navy and, in themes to be repeated in the later operas, parliamentary politics and the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority. The title of the work itself is humorous, as it juxtaposes the name of a little girl's garment, pinafore, with the symbol of a naval warship. The plot revolves around a naval captain's daughter who is in love with a lower-class foremast hand (a common sailor, well below officer rank), even though her father intends her to marry the First Lord of the Admiralty, the cabinet minister in charge of Britain's Royal Navy. As with most of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a surprise twist changes matters dramatically near the end of the story.

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Drawing of Temple as the Pirate King
Richard Barker Cobb Temple (2 March 1847 – 19 October 1912) was an English opera singer, actor and stage director, best known for his work in the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas. After an opera career beginning in 1869, Temple went on to create eight of the bass-baritone roles in the series of Gilbert and Sullivan operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1877 to 1889. His most famous roles included Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance and the title character in The Mikado. Over the next two decades, Temple played in, or directed, a variety of comic operas, musical comedies and plays and sang in concerts. He also taught acting and directed productions at music schools, primarily at The Royal College of Music.

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Recording of "Little maid of Arcadee" from Thespis (opera)

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George Bernard Shaw
Those who are old enough to compare the Savoy performances with those of the dark ages, taking into account the pictorial treatment of the fabrics and colours on the stage, the cultivation and intelligence of the choristers, the quality of the orchestra, and the degree of artistic good breeding, so to speak, expected from the principals, best know how great an advance has been made by Mr. D'Oyly Carte.
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Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan topics

The Triumvirate: W. S. GilbertArthur SullivanRichard D'Oyly Carte

The Gilbert and Sullivan Operas: ThespisTrial by JuryThe SorcererH.M.S. PinaforeThe Pirates of PenzancePatienceIolanthePrincess IdaThe MikadoRuddigoreThe Yeomen of the GuardThe GondoliersUtopia, LimitedThe Grand Duke

Other Works, People and Related Matters: Other Works by W. S. GilbertOther Operas by Arthur SullivanOther Music by Arthur SullivanSavoy operaPeople associated with Gilbert and SullivanGilbert and Sullivan performersD'Oyly Carte Opera CompanyHelen CarteRupert D'Oyly CarteBridget D'Oyly CarteCultural influence of Gilbert and SullivanInternational Gilbert and Sullivan Festival

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