By Gayden Wren
Written greater than a century in the past and at the start appeared even by way of their creators as not anything greater than gentle leisure, the fourteen operas of Gilbert & Sullivan emerged over the process the 20th century because the world's most well liked physique of musical-theater works, rating moment purely to Shakespeare within the heritage of English-language theater. regardless of this resounding attractiveness and confirmed sturdiness, such a lot books written in regards to the duo have desirous about the authors instead of the works. With this special exam of all fourteen operas, Gayden Wren fills this void. His daring thesis reveals the foremost to the operas' sturdiness, now not within the smart lyrics, witty discussion, or catchy track, yet within the principal topics underlying the characters and tales themselves. Like Shakespeare's comedies, Wren indicates, the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan suffer as a result of their undying issues, which converse to audiences as powerfully now as they did the 1st time they have been played. Written out of an abiding love for the Savoy operas, this quantity is vital examining for any devotee of those mesmerizing works, or certainly for someone who loves musical theater.
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Extra resources for A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan
The text is rough and unrealistic, built on the concepts of improvisation, elaboration, and even 30 A Most Ingenious Paradox performers’ self-indulgence. Pressing it into the mold of later operas would highlight its shortcomings while suppressing its strengths. The reverse is also true, of course. A production of Iolanthe staged with a devil-may-care approach to its drama, allowing the performers to ﬁddle with the text at will, would be memorably bad. Such a production would reﬂect ignorance of what Iolanthe is or how it was meant to be done.
Such a production would reﬂect ignorance of what Iolanthe is or how it was meant to be done. Thespis deserves similar consideration. Its reputation as a Gilbert & Sullivan failure is unjustiﬁed—it ran for two and a half months, outlasting nearly all the year’s Christmas-season plays, and drew many glowing reviews (Sutherland Edwards of The Musical World wrote: “In almost all conjunctions of music and words, there is a sacriﬁce of one to the other; but in Thespis . . 5 Richard D’Oyly Carte would later propose Christmas revivals of the show in 1875 and in 1895, though neither materialized.
A D’Oyly Carte poster from 1971, drawn by Peter Gofﬁn and modeled after John Reed as John Wellington Wells. By this time Wells has completed his evolution from a sinister fomenter of evil to a fast-talking carnival barker—a far more sympathetic portrayal but one that blurs the thematic point of the character. Source: The Pierpont Morgan Library, Gilbert and Sullivan Collection. pecially Patience, than to its immediate successors, H. M. S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance. The Sorcerer introduced the collaborative mode that prevailed for the rest of the partnership: Gilbert drafted a plot (in this case, a thorough revision of his 1869 short story, “An Elixir of Love”), which he and Sullivan hashed out at length before agreeing on its details.
A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan by Gayden Wren
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