You are here: G&S Operas
Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated on 14 operas in the 25
year period from 1871 to 1896. These 14 operas constitute the
most frequently performed series of operas in history. They are
still being performed regularly throughout the English speaking
world. The dates and performances shown are for the initial
- Thespis, or
The Gods Grown Old (December 26, 1871; Gaiety Theatre;
- 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. The general theme was used
again in Grand Duke.
- Trial by Jury, (March 25, 1875; Royalty Theatre; 131 performances)
- Hijinks in a courtroom, as the "bride" sues for breach of
promise. The only one act G&S opera, usually played along
with another opera.
- The Sorcerer,
(November 7, 1877; Opera Comique; 178 performances)
- With the help of a love philter, everyone in the village is
in love -- with the wrong person.
- H.M.S. Pinafore,
or The Lass That Loved a Sailor (May 28, 1878; Opera
Comique; 571 performances)
- The captain's daughter and a common sailor on his ship fall
in love. The first smash hit G&S opera, and one of the Big
- The Pirates of
Penzance, or The Slave of Duty
(April 2, 1880; Opera Comique; 363 performances)
- A young pirate just out of his "indentures" in love with
Mabel, Major General Stanley's ward, while the rest of the pirate
crew want to marry the general's other wards. Also one of the Big
Three G&S operas.
- Patience, or
Bunthorne's Bride (April 23, 1881; Opera Comique; 578
performances at both Opera Comique and Savoy Theatre)
- The county dames are in love with two poets while the poets
are both in love with Patience, the village milkmaid. The brigade
men don't see the point to aesthetics, but decide they had better
give it a try to win the women's love.
- Iolanthe, or
The Peer and the Peri (November 25, 1882; Savoy Theatre, 400 performances)
- Strephon, an Arcadian shepherd, wants to marry Phyllis, a
ward in chancery. Strephon, however, is half fairy -- down to the
waist. His mother, Iolanthe, pleads his cause. Very well known
overture, and beautiful music throughout.
Ida, or Castle Adamant (January 5, 1884; Savoy
Theatre; 246 performances)
- Princess Ida decides that men are little more than monkeys
in suits, so retreats to Castle Adamant to run a women's college.
The men first infiltrate, then invade, the castle. The only three
act G&S opera.
The Mikado, or The Town of Titipu (March 14, 1885; Savoy Theatre; 672 performances)
- Opera Japanese. Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor, becomes the Lord High
Executioner for Titipu, while Pooh-Bah is Lord High Everything
Else. Nanki-Poo, the Mikado's son, wants to marry Yum-Yum,
Ko-Ko's ward. The situation gets complicated when Ko-Ko executes
Nanki-Poo. The most popular G&S Opera, and perhaps the most
popular opera ever.
- Ruddigore, or
The Witch's Curse (January 21, 1887; Savoy Theatre; 288
- None of the village girls stand a chance at marriage because
all the village lads love Rose Maybud, but are too shy to court
her Robin Oakapple also loves Rose, but when he becomes the
wicked Baronet of Ruddigore, however, he must commit one major
crime a day or die in agony. The ghosts of his ancestors step
from their picture frames to confront him for not conscientiously carrying out this duty.
- The Yeomen of the Guard,
(October 3, 1888; Savoy Theatre; 423 performances)
- 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 G&S came to grand opera.
- The Gondoliers, or The King of Barataria (December 7, 1889; Savoy Theatre; 554 performances)
- One of two just-married gondoliers is the King of Barataria, but no one knows which one. As Barataria needs a king to put down unrest in the country, they travel there to reign jointly, leaving their wives behind. A fine romp, with lots of bright music and dancing.
- Utopia, Limited, or The Flowers of Progress (October 7, 1893; Savoy Theatre; 245 performances)
- Having a rather idealistic view of England and the English
people, King Paramount of the south sea island of Utopia decides
that his people should adopt all English customs and fashions,
and that the kingdom should become a "company limited.",
- The Grand Duke,
or The Statutory Duel (March 7, 1896; Savoy Theatre; 123
- Ludwig, an actor, replaces Rudolph, the miserly Grand Duke
of Pfennig Halbfennig, after "killing" Rudolph by drawing the
Ace in a statutory duel. By assuming all of Rudolph's
obligations, he soon finds himself with far more wives, and
prospective wives, than he knows what to do with. The most
underrated of the G&S operas.
Page updated 7-06-2006