By Gayden Wren
Written greater than a century in the past and at the start seemed even by way of their creators as not anything greater than mild leisure, the fourteen operas of Gilbert & Sullivan emerged over the process the 20th century because the world's preferred physique of musical-theater works, rating moment in simple terms to Shakespeare within the heritage of English-language theater. regardless of this resounding recognition and confirmed durability, such a lot books written concerning the duo have interested by the authors instead of the works. With this specified exam of all fourteen operas, Gayden Wren fills this void. His daring thesis unearths the most important to the operas' toughness, no longer within the smart lyrics, witty discussion, or catchy tune, yet within the principal subject matters underlying the characters and tales themselves. Like Shakespeare's comedies, Wren indicates, the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan undergo as a result of their undying subject matters, which communicate 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 analyzing for any devotee of those spell binding works, or certainly for an individual who loves musical theater.
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Additional info for A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan
Their comic operas seem more opera than comic—we sense them trying too hard to be “big,” resulting in numbers that sag under the weight of rhetorical excess in both words and music. Trial by Jury is the antithesis of such ambition, a single-scene show with a small cast and music that, while sophisticated, is largely accessible and easily sung. ” It is pure fun. And thus it remains the most enjoyable of the early shows: Where Thespis or The Sorcerer aim high and fall a bit short, Trial by Jury aims low and scores a bull’s-eye.
Thespis is the only Gilbert & Sullivan opera prior to The Mikado that is not based, at least in part, on some previous work by Gilbert. Instead, as most young authors do, Gilbert copied the older authors he most admired. Gilbert had translated some works by Offenbach’s librettists, Meilhac and Halevy, and he had also written parody lyrics to Offenbach tunes for The Princess (1870) and similar plays. He frequently reviewed the French composer’s works for Fun and various other journals. ) He admired Offenbach’s shows for their musical inventiveness, humorous situations, and effective theatrical presentation.
Sullivan’s brother Fred appears at left as Apollo. Source: “Illustrated London News,” January 6, 1872. By permission of The British Library. 3 Thespis M No Gilbert & Sullivan opera is less familiar than Thespis, and for good reason. It was their ﬁrst collaboration, its 80 performances made it their shortest-running work, and, from what we know of it, it is the least effective. To top it off, it comes down to us seriously incomplete. Gilbert’s words have apparently survived intact. )1 Sullivan’s music has been lost, however, except for two numbers: “Little Maid of Arcady,” a ballad popular enough to have been issued as sheet music, and the chorus “Climbing Over Rocky Mountain,” later transplanted into The Pirates of Penzance.
A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan by Gayden Wren