The Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas

Our group is dedicated to performing the joint works of Sir W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911), playwright and humorist, and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), unofficial composer laureate of England and favorite of Queen Victoria. Together they wrote a series of fourteen comic operettas (including H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado) which were wildly popular in their own time and are still widely performed by amateur and professional groups today, over a hundred years after their creation.

These operettas were the forerunners of our modern musicals, and in many ways resemble them more than they do the grand operas. Their songs and choruses -- mostly light and comic in nature -- are interspersed with spoken dialogue rather than recitative. In fact, few if any of the performers in Gilbert and Sullivan's original productions were professional opera singers; some of the chorus members were even outright amateurs.

Though over a century old, the works of Gilbert and Sullivan are as fresh and sparkling today as the day they were written. Gilbert may have chosen specific aspects of Victorian society for his satire, but his wit is as relevant now as it ever was: "I always voted at my party's call / And I never thought of thinking for myself at all," sings Sir Joseph Porter in Pinafore, but the lines could as easily belong to most modern politicians.

Gilbert and Sullivan songs continue to turn up in places as diverse as episodes of "The Muppet Show" (Tit-Willow), "Animaniacs" (Three Little Maids from School, as well as much of The Pirates of Penzance), "The Simpsons" (selections from The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore) and "Rumpole of the Bailey" (The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring, among others). As recently as 1982, Joseph Papp mounted a successful production of The Pirates of Penzance on Broadway, with Linda Ronstadt and Kevin Kline in two of the leading roles.

We are always on the lookout for new members. So come audition for us (near the beginning of each term), or join our orchestra or tech crew! If you have any questions about our group, or anything remotely relevant to it, please don't hesitate to contact us using this form.

Crichton

A musical based on J.M. Barrie's "The Admirable Crichton" Samuel Bernstein, Composer

Thespis

The Gods on Mount Olympus are old and tired, so decide to take a vacation to earth while a group of traveling actors take their place. (Most of the music for this opera has been lost, so it is played today only in reconstructions using either other Sullivan music, or original music.) (Summary taken from the Gilbert and Sullivan archive.)

Trial by Jury

A woman sues her would-be husband for Breach of Promise of Marriage. (Gilbert and Sullivan's only one-act operetta.)

The Sorcerer

A young couple about to be married decide to share their happiness with the whole village by hiring a sorcerer to make a love potion to make everyone fall in love. Naturally, this backfires...

HMS Pinafore

A lowly sailor and his Captain's beautiful daughter find their love thwarted by their differences in rank, an evil shipmate, and an incompetent Lord.

Pirates of Penzance

Young Frederic, finally free of his apprenticeship to a band of pirates, falls in love with Mabel, the daugher of a Major-General. Unfortunately, the Pirate King and the nurserymaid he scorned take advantage of his sense of duty to keep him from enjoying his newfound happiness for long...

Patience

The dragoons love the ladies, but all the ladies love Bunthorne, the self-absorbed Aesthetic - except for Patience, the dairy maid he loves. Until, of course, an even more Aesthetic Aesthetic comes along and steals them away...

Iolanthe

Iolanthe, a fairy, is allowed to return after being banished for the crime of marrying a mortal. Unfortunately, her half-human, half-fairy son is having some difficulty with the Lord Chancellor, who will not grant permission for him to marry Phyllis. But the fairies agree to help him, despite the opposition of the entire British Parliament!

Princess Ida

Prince Hilarion and his father, King Hildebrand, await the arrival of Princess Ida (to whom he was betrothed as an infant) and her father King Gama. But Gama arrives without his daughter -- she has founded a women's University, and given up the company of men! But Hilarion and his friends determine to infiltrate the University, dressed as women...

The Mikado

The son of the Mikado of Japan, disguised as a wandering minstrel in order to escape his father's order to marry the elderly Katisha, finds that the girl he loves is engaged to be married to the Lord High Executioner of Titipu. But that's the least of his worries when his father and Katisha show up searching for him.

Ruddigore

Young Robin Oakapple and Sweet Rose Maybud are in love, but too shy to tell each other until Robin's foster-brother, Richard Dauntless (a sailor) woos her himself. But Young Robin is secretly none other than Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, Baronet of Ruddigore -- the latest in a noble line cursed to do an evil deed each and every day, or be tortured to death by the ghosts of his ancestors!

The Yeomen of the Guard

Colonel Fairfax, sentenced to die in an hour on a false charge of sorcery, marries Elsie Maynard, a strolling singer. But then he escapes, causing complications. At the end Elsie's boyfriend, Jack Point, dies of a broken heart. Or does he? The nearest that Gilbert and Sullivan working together came to grand opera. (Summary taken from the Gilbert and Sullivan archive.)

The Gondoliers

Two Venetian gondoliers marry -- then learn that one of them is the King of Barataria, and was married in infancy to Casilda, daughter of the Duke of Plaza-Toro. Unfortunately, nobody knows which of them is the king...

Utopia, Limited

Princess Zara of the Kingdom of Utopia returns from England, bringing with her the Flowers of Progress to teach the naive Utopians how to make their country as great and glorous as England. Yet, somehow, everything doesn't quite seem right...

The Grand Duke

As leading comedian Ludwig prepares to marry the soubrette, Lisa, their company achieves an opportunity to act on their conspiracy to overthrow the Grand Duke of Pfennig-Halbfennig, and Ludwig becomes the Grand Duke. Unfortunately, several other women have a prior claim on the Grand Duke's hand in marriage!