On Thursday February 18, Gloucester U3A held a morning course titled An Introduction to Gilbert and Sullivan presented by U3A stalwart Lyn Stewart supported David Collett.
These avid fans explained the history of Gilbert and Sullivan or G&S as they are frequently called. The term refers to the Victorian-era theatrical partnership of dramatist W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) and the works they created. The two men collaborated on 14 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. Sullivan, six years Gilbert's junior, composed the music, contributing memorable melodies that could convey both humour and pathos.
Their operas have enjoyed broad and enduring international success and are still performed frequently throughout the English-speaking world. G&S introduced innovations in content and form that directly influenced the development of musical theatre through the 20th century.
The operas have also influenced political discourse, literature, film and television and have been widely parodied and pastiched by humorists. Producer Richard D'Oyly Carte brought Gilbert and Sullivan together. He built the Savoy Theatre in 1881 to present their works (known as Savoy Operas) and founded the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which performed G&S's works for over a century.
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