Gilbert and Sullivan Operas
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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 run.
Thespis, or The Gods Grown Old (December 26, 1871; Gaiety Theatre; 64 performances)
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 Three today.

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.

Princess 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 performances)
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 performances)
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