Gilbert and Sullivan

History has rarely seen a funnier musical duo than W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.  Working together in England, the pair created 14 comic operettas between 1871 and 1896.  Three of the most well known works included H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado.

Gilbert wrote the words to each operetta while Sullivan composed the music.  Each song brought down the roof as Gilbert and Sullivan poked fun at the royal family, members of Parliament, the British aristocracy, and the British Royal Navy.

Beginning with Trial by Jury, Gilbert and Sullivan wrote one smash hit after another — Pinafore, Penzance, Patience, Iolanthe, Princess Ida, The Mikado, Ruddigore, The Yeomen of the Guard, The Gondoliers, Utopia, The Grand Duke, and others.  Many of the shows went into 500 and 600 performances.

If Londoners wanted to see the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, they travelled to the city’s West End and attended the Savoy Theatre.  Built in 1881 by Richard Carte, the building was completely electrified.  It was the first in the world to bear this honor.  Carte built a hotel next to the theatre to provide accomodations for the actors, actresses, and theatre patrons and did quite a booming business for years.  The Savoy later premiered Oscar Wilde’s Salome and Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.  Visitors to London can still a play or show there today.

The Gilbert and Sullivan operaetta songs were as singable as some of the great arias from the operas of Bizet, Verdi, and Puccini.  People hummed them in the streets the day after seeing a show and then for weeks afterwards.  Who could forget “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General,” “When I Was a Lad!” Once More, Gondolieri,” and “For He’s Gone and Married Yum-Yum.”  The tempo kept a steady beat, the verses rhymed, the lines poked fun at everything and everyone, and the sarcasm just oozed from every number.  Audiences laughed and laughed and hung onto every word.  Going to the theatre was great fun!

Listen to a song or two of Gilbert and Sullivan’s and see if you don’t agree with the critics.  These men put musical theatre on the map in England for all to enjoy!




78 thoughts on “Gilbert and Sullivan

  1. I have never heard of these but they sound very funny and they seem worth watching. Would you happen to know if anyone still performs these operatic works anywhere or are they not really known anymore?

    • Gilbert and Sullivan’s works are still popular today. Mnay college groups perform their music. We’ll listen to excerpts of H.M.s. Pinafore in class.

    • The first song I listened to by Gilbert and Sullivan was Modern Major-General. It was very funny. The message of the song was to satirize the focus of the English armed forces when choosing leaders. The “major-general” rambles on and on about all the history and art to poke fun at how generals were often times very well educated, but hadn’t the slightest idea on how to control an army. The general is also goofy and flamboyant on the stage, to contrast the point of what a general is expected to be and what they ended up being like. The next song I listened to by the duo was “Three Little Maids.” It is from Mikado which is set in japan to allow Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely. Three little maids pokes fun at the education which women received: domestication. The song is very cute and ditzy to also mock the public view of what occurs in female schools.

      • Three Little Maids is a very funny song. I’m glad you listened to it. A group from Cambridge sings this song in the movie Chariots of Fire. Do you know that movie about the 1924 Olympics? It’s all about Eric Liddell, the great Scottish runner who refused to run on Sunday because of his Presbyterian beliefs. The British re-did the heat line-ups to accomodate Liddell and ended up winning a number of key races even though the runners had not trained for those specific events.

  2. i believe that when comedy is put to music, it is hilarious. i love going to see comedic musicals! it keeps me laughing the whole time! and since i love singing, the two elements put together is really awesome! these two gentleman must have always kept there friends interested when they had company. after listening to one of their pieces, i can see why they had up to 500-600 performances. i wonder if they ever had problems with those who didnt think their operas were funny. of course there will always be those who think hatefully about people. but i doubt that these men cared!

  3. I like that Gilbert and Sulivan used Insults in their plays. If I were in their time I would probably find them also very amusing to. You get to make insults about the royal family and get away with it. What could get any better. Even though the royal family were probably among the few people that disliked what Gilbert and Sullivan did. But pretty much every body else favored their plays. It was the new trend during the time. Their legacy will be known forever.

  4. Mr. Smyth,
    I totally agree with what you said. I really liked a song the wrote called “I am the very model of the Major General.” I really liked the music. It was soft, bouncy, and light. I also loved the words that they wrote on the page, to go along with the song. The singer song it very fast, and the words really did stick in your head!!
    I also listened to one of his pinafore’s. I also liked the way they sounded. The orchestra with the band was very clever. It added texture and beauty to the music.
    Overall, I really liked what Gilbert and Sullivan did with there music. The words and tunes were catchy. Who wouldn’t know these tunes back then. I hope that our band will get the opportunity to play one of their famous pieces. It would be interesting to see their style of music. Hopefully I will get that opportunity.

  5. The Pirates of Penzance is a very funny operetta! I think when I was little I either watched or listened to the music because it is very familiar to me. I am so happy you let us view the H.M.S Pinafore because I love watching live theater, I appreciate it a lot more than filmed theater. The actors expressions are always the best! I’m almost positive that their operettas inspired later playwrights, especially for Broadway. If you watch something like The Book of Mormon (which, be careful some people get really offended watching it) you can see some of humor. It isnt as dry as the humor in the operettas but it still makes fun of something that at the time seemed silly. It is interesting how theater was changing, but a common misconception that previous theater was incredibly serious. Shakespeare actually had a lot of jokes (dirty ones too) in his dramas. Even tragedy’s could be funny depending on the point of view you are looking at. I hope we can continue watching live performances and studying dramas, it holds my attention more.

  6. Upon watching pieces and scenes of one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s musicals I am very humored. The jokes and sarcasm of the country of England is hilarious. I love how Gilbert and Sullivan made jokes, but did in no way degrade the country itself. The humor was senseless and harmless. I also love how the queen and other hierarchies of the country never took true offense to the musicals and jokes the two had about the country. I have a weird admiration for partners such as Gilbert and Sullivan, two friends with different talents that come together and create something beautiful and grand really strikes me. It is the appreciation of oneself and the appreciation of another. The partners, Gilbert and Sullivan, basically had a trio when it comes to Richard Carte. Carte built a theatre and a hotel to accommodate actors, actresses, theatre patrons, and many others to bring in more viewers and performers for the musicals. Gilbert and Sullivan really knew how to keep the audiences laughing and enjoying something not so serious as many other things from that time were. I give props to Gilbert and Sullivan to bringing in a new element of humor to the streets of England through music and song.

  7. Watching the pinafore in class was sooooooo cool! I would totally want to be able see go back in time and see one of these. It was very catchy and very funny. The music was very cool. I could totally imagine some of our SOA students doing that. They should do one of those instead of a musical next year to kind of change it up…….I have some of the songs stuck in my head. But, I am trying to listen to Rachmaninoff. I think it was so cool! I think it is great that the common people were able to go see this.

  8. What fun the audiences must have had. The tempo of each number I watched was upbeat and memorable. I understand why a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta was a must see. The actors were funny and you could tell they really enjoyed the performances. My favorite was “I am the Major Model of a Modern Major General.” Yet, I also liked “Three Little Maids from School.” Unlike Sullivan, music and theatre was not always a part of Gilbert’s life. First being a naval surgeon, and then writing poems and articles to earn extra money. When the two were introduced it was two years later before they would collaborate on their first work together. They must have had a great time writing these amazing operettas. I can only imagine the laughs they shared in the making of the 14 comic operettas.

  9. Gilbert and Sullivan make an excellent and funny duo. I like how the workload between the two was shared. Gilbert wrote the words and Sullivan composed the music. The two of them did their fair share of the work to produce fantastic operetta. I can’t believe that some shows had over 500 performances. Hopefully, Gilbert and Sullivan earned some money for each performance. I know I would want money for each time my operetta was performed. There definitely had to have been enjoyment and pleasure from all of the operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan. The theatres had to have been packed for every performance. There were people from all over who wanted to see Gilbert and Sullivan’s works on stage. London had to have been the place to be at during the time of Gilbert and Sullivan.

  10. Gilbert and Sullivan were quite a bit like an English version of Mark Twain. They all were sarcastic, and they all chose to aim their sarcasm at more “upper-class” and “pompous” individuals, such as Congress, Parliament, and the navy. The only difference was, Mark Twain chose literature, and Gilbert and Sullivan chose music and theatre. Otherwise, Mark Twain and Gilbert and Sullivan were very much the same. Mark Twain wrote about ridiculously stupid people in his books; Gilbert and Sullivan did the same in their plays. Gilbert and Sullivan were popular with the “average Englander;” Mark Twain was the same with average Americans. Of course, Gilbert and Sullivan had music on their side, which meant that people would go around humming the songs from their operettas for days, whereas Mark Twain’s only method of advertising was greeting people on his front porch. Gilbert and Sullivan’s fist operetta, Trial by Jury, for instance, was such a hit that it played from 1875-1899 in London, almost non-stop. The fact that all of the lines rhymed, and had a catchy, bouncy rhythm, surely helped a great deal. Overall, Gilbert and Sullivan were clearly a huge success.

    • It’s still great fun to see a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta in England! The British just love these guys!

  11. Those must have been fun to see. It seems that back then everyone was so stiff and proper that something like that satire and downright goofiness of those operettas must have been really hysterical. People must have loved watching the performers sing and dance and poke fun at the British Royalty and stuff. I mean, I totally would have! Although, H.M.S. Pinafore didn’t quite have me…rolling on the floor laughing. Probably because I could barely hear it. The jokes didn’t really catch my attention as super funny. But probably because I couldn’t hear them either. Anyway, Gilbert and Sullivan were pretty cool guys with really cool ideas, and I will have to look up more of their shows!
    Parka Pre!

  12. I really liked the parts of the H.M.S. Pinafore that you showed in class. It was really entertaining and much like a full opera. I did not expect the show to be so entertaining and funny. I liked the wit that Sullivan used in the songs. My favorite song of the ones we heard in class was the song about the admiral. How could anyone get such a high-status job without doing a single thing. It’s kind of like Andrew Jackson’s kitchen cabinet. Jackson chose his closest friends to be placed in government offices. I listened to a few other songs by Gilbert and Sullivan. I liked the song, “When Britain Really Ruled the Waves” from their operetta, Iolanthe.

  13. From what we watched in class Gilbert and Sullivan were really funny. They had a very sarcastic sense of humor that made the shows entertaining yet applicable to the current events of the time. The humor in these shows is still applicable today because of how it is done. The melodies were very catchy and the lyrics were very well written and rhymed making them very memorable. It is pretty cool that they were first performed in such a historic venue. Most famous historic shows traveled and didn’t perform in one venue most of the time like this show. It was very different in that sense. It is really cool to see what was famous and popular in other time periods and how they relate to life now. These shows have definitely carried through time well.

  14. I never realized that Gilbert & Sullivan operettas were what we were listening to in the car. I thought my mother always listened to serious music! And they certainly sound serious, but if you can decipher the words it becomes obvious that they’re parodies. H. M. S. Pinafore is the one we listened to most. My favorite pieces are “When I Was a Lad” and “Refrain, Audacious Tar.” My mother actually suggested I do the latter as part of my senior thesis! They must have gotten tired doing so many shows, but I am sure they loved it! It’s so wonderful that the people they were poking fun of were able to laugh at themselves. I would think that they would be too stiff and full of themselves to put up with it, but I am glad they were not. Everyone needs to laugh at themselves sometimes.

  15. When you showed us the HMS Pinafore videos I thought they were hilarious! I wish we could watch the whole thing. It seems like they would get in trouble for making fun of the British like they did. It’s amazing that those shows got 500 performances. Those people who opened the hotel got really lucky. They must be rich now from all their business. That is really cool that those shows played in the first electrified theatre ever. I would love to go see a show there someday.

  16. Gilbert and Sullivan’s 14 comic operettas were amazing. I think its cool that they worked together on the whole process. Gilbert wrote the words and Sullivan composed the music. It is also crazy that the shows would turn into 500 to 600 performances. That would take forever. Also Savoy Theatre where the would perform is very pretty. I can see why people would want to go see an opera at a theatre like that. Gilbert and Sullivan’s themes in their songs caused people to hum the songs in the morning. Lastly, Gilbert and Sullivan’s songs are great. The light notes and rhythms make great songs.

  17. I can’t help but think that The Pirates of the Caribbean drew inspiration from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. I mean, both have comedic elements, and the leads look very similarly dressed (although, that may have just been the particular version I saw). Most of their work had elements of satire and stock characters. They really helped popularize the trend of satire and making fun of everything from culture to famous rulers. This would become very popular in free countries such as America and England during the 20s. Gilbert and Sullivan influenced many artists and all English culture that succeeded them.

  18. I think we watched a play by Gilbert and Sullivan in class. I think it was a modern recording of an Australian cast. I actually really enjoyed some of the cheesy puns in it. Some of it was quite clever, like the admiral whom the only real ship he had ever been in was an internship. I really liked how comical and unserious it was. I found it funny how they were making fun of the British navy as how they viewed them. Where were Gilbert and Sullivan from though? It seems as though they certainly weren’t from Britain.

  19. I looked up Arthur Sullivan’s song The Temptest and it’s really unique, I don’t think i have heard anything quite like it. I really like how in the beginning he incorporates the flute, but soon uses strings instruments. The tempo is kind of slow but the dynamics are really accented. It also has a mysterious feeling to it that i enjoy. I think the critics are right! Arthur Sullivan’s work is truly incredible.

  20. I really enjoyed Gilbert and Sullivan’s musical that you showed us this morning. It was extremely funny. The vocals were also amazing which can be hard to achieve in a predominately male cast. The acting was also amazing. It is very hard to find a good ensemble but that ensemble was hilarious and basically made the show. I would love to see the full thing. The London accents were funny as well. I feel like the satire Gilbert and Sullivan was going for was definitely achieved. It was satire and not a parody because the writers were trying to criticize the British navy by poking fun at them.

  21. I was lucky enough to watch a clip in class of their work. I thought it was hilarious for a musical, also being called H.M.S.Pinafore. It is bizarre that someone would get elected captain of a ship for writing nice cursive. My favorite character would have to be Buttercup. Her character reminds me of Madame Thenardier from Les Miserables. Although, at some times her pitch was a little off. I wish we would have gotten to see more of the show because I really enjoyed watching it.

  22. I really like what Gilbert and Sullivan did – their work seem to be very funny and witty. I liked what we watched of the H.M.s Pinafore – it was very smart and I loved the costumes. I really love how they weren’t afraid to poke fun at British culture and how people so openly embraced it. Gilbert and Sullivan were very revolutionary and unique in their approach to theatre – which I like a lot. Wow! They performed so many shows – I wish something that I did ran for that long! I think it’s really great that people are still performing their work today.

  23. Gilbert and Sullivan were a very funny pair. Musical comedys are the best of both worlds. A few years ago I saw an off broadway play of peter and the star catcher. Peter and the Star catcher was also a musical comedy and its one of the best shows ive ever seen. Today in class we watched one of the video of one of the Gilbert and Sullivan plays. It was very funny! The video today is my favorite weve watched so far.

  24. Mr. Smyth,
    Gilbert and Sullivan seem like really fun guys. I am surprise that they did not get in trouble for making fun of the royal family. The royal family seems very strong and not someone that i would want to mess with. I can imagine that a lot of people would want to watch the plays. They could learn history while being entertained. The people of London must have been getting into the theater a lot at the time. It would have been awesome to live then if you are an actor.

  25. We watched a musical in class by Gilbert and Sullivan and it was very good. I can only imagine how difficult it would’ve been to write the lyrics of the songs because they all rhymed and had the same rhythm throughout. It was very funny at times and throughout you were trying to piece together how the outcome could be since we didn’t get to see the ending. The characters acted very well and it seemed very well rehearsed. When I researched them I learned that a lot of there theatrical works have become parodies.

  26. Building a hotel next to the theater house is such a brilliant idea! I’m sure he made tons of profit from that. Gilbert and Sullivan were two hilarious guys! I remember performing “We Sail the Ocean Blue” in 4th grade at space camp. It was such a fun song and the choreography was fun too! I’m definitely looking up G&S! I feel like if there were parody shows like that today, some people would be really offended. It would be harder today to pull of such comedies. Their ideas are hilarious and did exactly what they had planned: entertain the working class and annoy the queen. :)

  27. I have heard allusions to the admiral’s song in the musical we watched in class and now I know where they are from. I love how Gilbert and Sullivan made jokes, but did in no way degrade the country itself. The humor was senseless and harmless. I also love how the queen and other hierarchies of the country never took true offense to the musicals and jokes the two had about the country. I have a weird admiration for partners such as Gilbert and Sullivan, two friends with different talents that come together and create something beautiful and grand really strikes me.

  28. I can’t help but think that The Pirates of the Caribbean drew inspiration from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. I mean, both have comedic elements, and the leads look very similarly dressed. They had a very sarcastic sense of humor that made the shows entertaining yet applicable to the current events of the time. The humor in these shows is still applicable today because of how it is done. The melodies were very catchy and the lyrics were very well written and rhymed making them very memorable.

  29. I really enjoyed the DVD that we watched today in class. Th Gilbert and Sullivan DVD was hilarious. I actually think that their humor was pretty funny. The music was brilliant, and the talent amongst the performers was tremendous. I really like the Captain character, he was funny. And Buttercup was a hoot!

  30. The musical that we watched in class, about the queen’s Nay-vee (haha) is referenced in a lot of modern TV shows, songs, and even other musicals. Once I saw a performance of Alice In Wonderland Jr. and the dodo bird character sings a section of the admiral’s song. I did not know that it was a reference until I learned about this show. I really wish I could have been among the working class British citizen’s who got to see these in their originality and hilarity.

  31. From watching the H.M.S. Pinafore in class, I have seen how great these operettas really are. The humor that Gilbert and Sullivan used towards the British Navy is hysterical. I can see why their work was such a big hit in England. People from all over would travel just to attend one of their performances. Even today these shows are still extremely popular. Many performers on the collegiate level will perform these operettas. I would love to see one of these operettas one day.

  32. Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas were very clever. I see why they were popular with the working class. Who wouldn’t enjoy these witty musicals? I wonder if the Queen ever heard of the content of what these men were producing and what she thought of it if she knew about it. I bet she secretly was really curious about them and would have loved to attend one. She just knew that it was below her status. That’s what I like to think about it anyway. I understand how they started musical theater up as a fun and entertaining thing to see. They certainly are amusing.

  33. Gilbert and Sullivan scored their first international hit with H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), satirising the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority and poking good-natured fun at the Royal Navy and the English obsession with social status (building on a theme introduced in The Sorcerer, love between members of different social classes). Gilbert oversaw the designs of sets and costumes, and he directed the performers on stage. He sought realism in acting, shunned self-conscious interaction with the audience, and insisted on a standard of characterization where the characters were never aware of their own absurdity. Gilbert insisted that his actors know their words perfectly and obey his stage directions, which was something new to many actors of the day. Sullivan personally oversaw the musical preparation. The result was a new form of English musical theatre..

  34. I’m really glad Gilbert and Sullivan made plays for the average man. It was affordable and extremely enjoyable. It’s funny how they made fun of the British aristocracy, and I can see how the average man found it hilarious. And 500-600 shows! That’s a lot for just one show. It’s nice how a hotel was put to accommodate the performers. And I’ve heard a few songs that you mentioned. And we watched operetta and It’s really funny. I really liked Queen’s Royal Navy Admiral’s song. It was really good. I hope to see more!

  35. I really enjoyed the HMS Pinafore you showed us in class today. Gilbert and Sullivan must have been in sync because the words and music go together perfectly. It’s a nice type of humor because it’s the kind that anyone can come and enjoy but it’s also very witty. It’s incredible that they were so successful. It just goes to show how in touch with the common people they were writing for.

  36. Though I’ve never heard of Gilbert and Sullivan, I /really/ like their comedic ways. Their songs are insulting, silly, and over all a crowd pleaser! Im going to look up later how the decided that comedy was their path to fame. I want to find out how they met? Who decided whom does what? Oh well! I’m sure they are happy their 14 operettas are their legacy.

  37. I think that W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan had the greatest idea ever! Comedy and music together, who could resist? I know there is no way I could. I love music and I love comedy so putting that together would have been marvelous! I have seen The Pirates of Penzance and I was laughing the whole time! It seems to be a wonderful representation of Gilbert and Sullivan and their works. I think that Gilbert and Sullivan were the first people back then who not only found a way to make fun of big political and royal figures, but they did it with out making anyone mad and they made millions doing it. It is incredible that their shows made it into the 500 and 600 ranges. They must have really been a smash hit. If I ever go to London I am going to try to go see a Gilbert and Sullivan performance in the original theaters. I can’t imagine singing “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” let alone writing it. I wonder how long it took Gilbert to write the lyrics that rhymed.

    • The words might have come very quickly to Gilbert because they all rhyme. The songs are just so funny. I bet these guys were rolling on the floor thinking up things to say about the navy, snobby people, the Parliament, and the royal family. They were discreet in a way but still very funny. Their message got across!

  38. I found the skit indeed very funny! I loved the fact the Admiral had gotten to the top ‘of the Queen’s Navy’ for his ‘neat hand~writing’ in actuality, it takes a while to get up there. You have to be in War or battle when you get it and you have to have certain experience and honors. I remember learning about it in my Naval JROTC class. I told Master Chief about what we talked about (Gilbert and Sullivan) and he said he was quite informed about the duo and that their compositions were absolutely hilarious!

  39. These two musicians, were they the first to create humorous plays, or was this after Shakespeare?

    Did any members of the aristocracy come to watch their operettas/plays?

    On estimate how much did these plays cost, and who was the main audience? Considering there were over 600 showings, how long were the performances every night?

    What did it take to get an operetta shown at the playhouse that was completely electrified?

    Was sarcasm a relatively new concept in theater? I know at one point satire was a new concept so I am curious to see if humor and sarcasm were as well. Now, also, was the first really grand musical theater performance ever or were there predecessors? What were the qualifications needed to become and actor or actress in these plays at that time?

    Gilbert and Sullivan’s songs are phenomenal. They are special to me because they don’t have the long spacey measures in which the audience member is doing from that front.

    • The operettas were for the middle class and working class. They didn’t cost much to attend. Each lasted about 90 minutes to 120 minutes. They could be performed in the afternoon or in the evening. All were done at the Savoy Theatre. The theatre’s owner and Gilbert and Sullivan had struck a deal that the operettas would not be done anywhere else. Satire had been used before, but G&S took it to extremes — rather tongue in cheek. They loved England but wanted to expose some of its quirkiness, inadequacies, and old fashioned customs that were definitely outdated.

  40. I LOVE Gilbert and Sullivan! I love how they poke fun at political positions and things of the like. The two sure know how to make somebody have a good laugh! They really performed over 600 shows per operetta? That must have been quite time-consuming for the performers I would assume! It was good that they managed to make it affordable for the middle and working classes. I really enjoy all that they do. Perhaps one of my favorites of theirs, however, is Pirates of Penzance. It is actually, in fact, my favorite Operettas of all time. I know practically every song in it. I also sing songs from it practically everyday. I actually want to sing one of those songs for my thesis. I am actually at this very second listening to “Oh Better Far to Live and Die”.

  41. I though that the HMS Pinafore was very funny. I liked the dry humor. The music was very simplistic. Normally when i listen to music, i like for it to be extremely complex and intricate. but i think that they made them simple for a good reason. They wanted the tunes to stick with their audience. i also like how catchy the words are. its overall just a very witty production. if we have to do another musical type thing i vocal, i think that it would be appropriate to do a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

  42. While watching the Pinafore today in class I was thoroughly amused at how clever it was. The show was by no mean high brow but it still allowed for some interpretation and not so much as to confuse the watcher. I really did enjoy their work and will look forward to seeing more in the near future and i must say the farther i get into this period the harder it is to find something I really like so it was a great relief to find a nice work so late into the history of art.

  43. I had such a kick out of watching their plays in our class! Thank you for letting us watch them! Gilbert and Sullivan had quite the sense of humor. I loved the song where the “Commander of the Queen’s Navy” sang of staying away from the sea an doing paperwork in order to be the big guy in charge of the navy. The ridicule and irony is just great! Gilbert and Sullivan remind me a lot of my stepdad because he has the same dry sense of humor. He grew up in London so he knows all about these guys. I told him we were learning about them in class and he seemed pretty enthusiastic about them. Just proves that Britian loved the two of them.

  44. I loved H.M.S Pinafore. It was hilarious. and i agree mr. smyth. i think i would make a good pirate. there is nothing cruel or harsh about the operettas. they are just plain fun to see. nothing offensive or anything. truly something for everyone to see. its awesome that they built a hotel right next to the theater. i wish all theaters had one.

  45. Its kind of interesting because i always learn something new about theater in this class which is always nice and very helpful. And i must say, i am really not the biggest fan of operas and operettas. I just never seem to grasp the appeal, and i generally prefer the more modern styled music and shows and musicals. But none the less it would be a complete and total lie if i said that i didn’t enjoy the Guilbert and Sullivan show, it was quit amusing, and even more entertaining. I wonder how many reincarnations have been done of this kind of form and show style over the years. But i did thoroughly enjoy it, and i would love to see more. And come to think of it, I think that our school could really benefit from doing a Guilbert and Sullivan piece, we could diffidently pull that off very well i think.

  46. W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were a great refreshment to people then. Their humor took the dark and dramatic tone of the time before and twisted it into their own original idea. I actually played as Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance. It was in fact humorous and I can see why people would go and see their shows so commonly. It was as if there was an awakening in the new society that was growing all over the globe. New ideas and art spread like wildfire across nations and lands that were commonly known for melodrama and melancholy. It was a breath of fresh air for the world and humor was the way that we achieved such a task.

  47. I can only imagine how difficult it would’ve been to write the lyrics of the songs because they all rhymed and had the same rhythm throughout. It was very funny at times and throughout you were trying to piece together how the outcome could be since we didn’t get to see the ending. Maybe we could finish watching it because I really enjoyed it and I thought it was pretty funny.

  48. I am a huge fan of The Pirates of Penzance! I saw a local theatre group, The Company Company, preform it and it was fantastic! I love the comedy in it and the music was great! I also saw it preformed by First Baptist. Both performances were stellar but I preferred the professional version a bit better. I had no idea that Gilbert and Sullivan wrote it. I haven’t seen any of their other works but I’m sure they are just as good as Pirates. I am a fan of musical theatre so I sure i would love it! It’s awesome that their musical was preformed in the first play containing electricity! People must of loved the duo back then as well. I have read some of H. M. S. Pinafore and have wanted to see it. Maybe another local theatre group could put this on and we could go and see it!

  49. Wow! The fact that they had the guts to make fun of the royal family, parliament, etc. is quite amazing. I remember you showing us little pieces of the H.M.S. Pinafore. The songs were very easy to hum along with. The sarcasm as well was very funny. I enjoyed it because of the way they made fun of parliament, etc. and how they were basically saying that you can be in high authority and not know anything about your job. I would say that was the sarcastic part of the play. It was very enjoyable and I would lovee to see it in person. I most definitely agree with the critics, no arguing with them. The duo was a perfect match. the most definitely “raised the roof”.

  50. I wonder if this would have gained so much popularity if Gilbert and Sullivan weren’t the only people compose comedic operas at their time. When you said that each operetta was shown 500 to 600 times did you mean all of them combined as a total amount of shows, or each individual one which if it is for each individual one that is a crazy amount of shows to put out. I’m some of those songs were stuck in many peoples’ heads well after the concert was over, and I’m sure that they were singing most of them for a long time after the show, but like all songs stuck in your head it would probably get extremely annoying after a while, even if you like the song. Although the people being portrayed in the operetta’s probably weren’t very happy to be made fun of in the comedies, but i hope some of them had a good time with it.

  51. These men sound like a delightful success! Something that comes new to me from this blog is that an operetta is a performance of both theater and music! It would be considered a musical in our day.. i guess. Their music is extremely dynamic and powerful, and personally i think their music reflected on the way they felt about the government they were living in at the time. I wonder what was the cause for their strong, mocking feelings against the government? All i know is that the Pinafore is hilarious! The way they portray the admiral is intensely comic. It makes you think if really the British Navy was that fun and weird.. I might have wanted to join! :) I was also wondering, why did the government let them perform these operettas if it was mocking the government? It would seem like a big no-no to me if i were in charge! But it was great that they were able to delight the world with such humor.

  52. With all there popularity I imagined for a second that they were rock band. But for people back then that was there popular rock music becase it was what made the times back then for all of them. I think that each style of music they each have makes more of a difference from all of the other styles of music that there are. I think that when they decided to make music together it started something new and different and something that they all wanted and thought would be really amazing and at the end of the day it realy was different and really did make an impact.

  53. Gilbert and Sullivan made quite a pair. One wrote the words, the other composed the music. Together, they made 14 operettas in 25 years. Some of these operettas ran for 500 to 600 shows. That’s pretty impressive when you think about it. . The common people of England loved Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas because of what they made fun of: the royal family, Parliament, the British aristocracy. The H.M.S. Pinafore poked fun at the British Royal Navy. From the name of the ship to the inexperienced admiral, the operetta is intended to make you laugh. From the little bit that we watched in class, I’m interested in watching the rest of the operetta sometime. It’s funny and the songs are kinda catchy. I had the Admiral’s song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

  54. I actually had the pleasure or studying and learning a lot about their ninth opera, The Mikado, in previous classes. I know it opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances. This was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera. The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur and school productions. We even studied it in our theater classes. The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. Setting the opera in Japan allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. Gilbert used foreign or fictional locales in several operas, including The Mikado, Princess Ida, The Gondoliers, Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke, to soften the impact of his pointed satire of British institutions. This just enticed the people even more!

  55. It was very funny when we watched part of this play in class. It was such a silly humor. When we were watching them I couldn’t stop laughing. The whole thing was just very clever. They had a rhyme for each of the songs. Rhyming things together isn’t always easy. The songs were so catchy and I think that was the purpose. They wanted the people in the audience to remember it. You could tell that they were all so amused by them. The audience had a smile on their face the whole time and you could tell they really loved them.

  56. Upon watching scenes of some of Gilbert and Sullivan’s musicals I am very humored. The jokes and sarcasm of England is hilarious! I love how Gilbert and Sullivan made jokes, but did in no way degrade the country itself. I also love how the queen and other hierarchies of the country never took true offense to the musicals and jokes the two had about the country. I have a weird admiration for partners such as Gilbert and Sullivan, two friends with different talents that come together and create something beautiful and grand really hits me as golden. The partners, Gilbert and Sullivan, basically had a trio when it comes to Richard Carte. He built a theater and a hotel to accommodate actors, actresses, theater patrons, and many others to bring in more viewers and performers for the musicals. Gilbert and Sullivan really knew how to keep the audiences laughing and enjoying something not so serious as many other things from that time were. I give Gilbert and Sullivan props for bringing in a new element of humor to the streets of England through music, song, and dance.

  57. After watching excerpts of H.M.S. Pinafore in class, I do not doubt that these men were some of the funniest in their time. While it’s not stand up comedy in the least, their operas are almost better, as none of it is expected. Studies have shown the humour is a result of the brain not having expected what was about to happen, and as such these songs and operas are excellently designed.

  58. I hadn’t ever heard of these men before. But, I did find them quite humorous. They sneak in funny comments, out of nowhere sometimes. Even in titles there is some humor. I found it difficult to catch all of the comedy in the songs. They spoke very fast. But, when you can understand them, it’s funny. We watched some of the H.M.S. Pinafore. It was hilarious. I did really enjoy this performance.

  59. I very much enjoyed watching part of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas in class. The operas have very witty comments that make it very interesting and not like the normal opera. I was more intrigued by the opera than I have ever been for any sort of musical performance. It was very easy to follow and extremely comical. Thank you for showing us!

  60. After watching some of the H.M.S. Pinafore play in class I have to agree that Gilbert and Sullivan are hilarious. The way they make fun of everyone and get away with it is what makes it the most funny to me. I am still confused about how they managed not to anger the people they made fun of. I guess those people must have just realized that it was all just for fun. While it is very funny, the musical part of it is also very well done. The lyrics in the songs are pure genius and the melodies are very catchy. I am not surprised at all that people everywhere wanted to see performances of these plays because after seeing part of one of them, I can say that I would have done the same. I also remember you mentioning in class that the tickets were cheap and all kinds of people could come in to watch. This is great because it allowed for so many more people to experience these shows. If I ever get a chance to watch one of these plays performed live I will definitely go.

  61. We watched the H.M.S. Pinafore in class the other day I believe! Normally it is hard for me to pay attention to older musicals but I was actually quite intrigued by this one. I loved the opening number because there weren’t that many men and they were still able to produce this big and beautiful sound. It was amazing! I also liked the character Buttercup. I honestly could see Madelyn Knight playing that part because they are both extremely funny and talented. I never got her name, but I believe it may have been the love interest that I liked so much? I thought her voice was beautiful and I wish I could sing like that. It was like she didn’t have to put in any effort to sound like that. I can hardly ever hit notes that high. I also love the way she was able to act so well while she was singing because I know how difficult it can be to do that.

  62. I love to laugh. From what you said about Gilbert and Sullivan poking fun at Parliament and The Royal’s it reminds me a bit of the Saturday Night Live showcases. I’m not talking about the silly made-up skits, but the ones that poke fun at the celebrities, government officials and candidates, and many other things. They make you laugh until your sides hurt, but can brink on being a bit on the edge because of the people that they are making fun of. I wonder how people responded to the topics of the hilarious plays/ operettas back then. But anyway, i watched the beginning of the Mikado and it was very funny! I watched the song about who the men of japan were. The men used fans and walked around like puppets. It was strange but very funny to watch. Plus the music was great! Gilbert and Sullivan definitely knew how to write.

  63. i love when comedy is put into something musical. It’s always hilarious. Musicals are always so entertaining as well. Music and comedy is a really great mix! these two men must have been very fun to be around. It’s not surprising that they had 500-600 performances. It mustve been really fun to work in one of the musicals. It seems like it would be a blast. One year at SOA we should do one of their operettas. That would be really cool.

  64. Gilbert and Sullivan are so hillarious. i liked the play that we saw in class. they portrayed what England was like. they should have had more than just 14 plays. i bet those would be even funnier. i might do that when i grow up. i wonder how much money they would make after each show. did Gilbert and Sullivan direct play or just write it? i want to go see one of their plays in person. it would be so great.

  65. Gilbert and Sullivan seem to have influenced american theater incredibly. While, in previous times, criticism of government was rare and looked down upon, especially in England, plays like these evolved and began to become acceptable. However, as society changed, art changed and hilarious comedic plays that never could have existed preciously came into existence. The plays they created were not only many in a short period of time, but were also incredibly successful. They gained international attention. Many of them are still performed today. Not to mention, they became so incredibly famous that they have been parodied by many artists since they were created. And what a team the two made! Gilbert wrote the words, creating insane and silly plots leaving the audience roaring. Sullivan conveyed such humor with his musical compositions. It’s no wonder the two’s work became incredibly famous.

  66. wow! Gilbert and Sullivan are both very talented people. I did some research on them and it said that ohn Hollingshead brought the tow men together. He wanted them to make an entertaining christmas peice, and they did not disappoint. After that, they were inseperable adnd were loved by many people! I looked up a song by them called, The Pirates of Penzance. It was very funny and i could even hear the auidence laughing in the backround. They are two very silly guys, which is why i like them. In the soong i listened to, they talked super fast and had very fast piano music in the background. They probably attracted a younger crowd. I really enjoy these two mens talent.

  67. I really did enjoy the production of the H.M.S Pinafore you showed us. I found it to be both funny and very catchy. I believe you showed it to us a week ago and from that day on I have been singing ” I am the ruler of the Queen’s Navy”. I have even looked it up on Youtube and listened to it quite a few times. I wasn’t able to find the production we saw in class but I did see other productions. There is even a Family Guy version with Stewie Griffin singing it. Anyway, I wouldn’t of thought of Opera as being funny. I thought it was more tragic. This song proved that to be a myth. Part of what makes this song funny, in my opinion, is the fact that the “ruler” doesn’t exactly have his “sea legs”. He has no experience on a ship but yet he is in charge. I will be sure to look up some of Gilbert and Sullivan’s other works.

  68. I love Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas especially H.M.S. Pinafore and Princess Ida. I think their idea of making fun of the society of that time is a comedic idea that lasts today. Nearly all stand-up comedy is making fun of someone or something in our world today. As far as the music is concerned, I like the catchy tunes. My favorite has to be “Now I am the Leader of the Queen’s Navy!” I haven’t seen any other works of theirs but I would love to. I’d also love to be in the Savoy theater! As a theater technician, I’d love to work in the same theater that they did either performing or teching a show! I don’t even know who I could compare these two to today. Maybe Jack and I will be the next Gilbert and Sullivan!

  69. After seeing a bit of H.M.S. Pinafore in class I have to agree that Gilbert and Sullivan are hysterical. The way they make fun of everyone and get away with it is hilarious. I’m still wondering how they got away with that without the people they ridiculed being furious with them.While it is very funny, the musical portion of the play is extremely well done. The lyrics are pure comic genius and the melodies are extremely catchy. I am not surprised that people all over the world want to see these plays put on. They are incredibly entertaining. I also remember you mentioning in class that the tickets were reasonable and all kinds of people could attend the performances. This is so great because it opened the theatre to so many more people.

  70. As a student, it’s fantastic to see Gilbert and Sullivan brighten so many people’s lives because it gives me hope that I can grow up to be like them. For most of the year we have studied the works of all forms of artists who focused on serious topics such as aristocracy and the fall of humanity and at more than sometimes it can set off a dreary mood. Now, here we are praising the works of jokers who not only use their comedy for a profession but also to address political and social problems. In more cases than not, I believe it’s best to approach a problem with a lighter side and I feel Gilbert and Sullivan would agree with me. What you Mr. Smyth have described in these short paragraphs immediately makes me visualize a hundred fifty year old Disney studio crafting new ideas and stories to put into production. I do say that such an imaginative ride brings giggles to me, no matter how un-masculine a statement that may be. I would love to travel back in time and see the tavern or house where these two formed plot structures along with the music they created. It truly would have been a hoot and a lifelong memorable experience. Also, Gilbert and Sullivan aided in the growth of London’s west side population due to their praised musical performances. It seems as if it was a predecessor to the Las Vegas of our times where entertainment and ridiculous levels enjoyment could bud and bloom for all to laugh and love.

  71. You mentioned that these shows were performed in London’s West End. Over the summer, my family and I travelled to London and spent nine days in the city. We didn’t have time to see everything we wanted to, unfortunately, so on the first day we made a list of everything that was most important to each member of the family. Of course, seeing a broadway performance was one of mine. We had planned to see The Phantom of The Opera in the west end, and the performance was spectacular. There must be hundreds of theaters dedicated to different shows. Her Majesty’s Theater is where Phantom was being performed, and it was one of the oldest theaters in the west end. The architecture of the building itself would have been worth the trip. I would have loved to see more performances while I was in London. The Cripple of Inishman was playing (Daniel Radcliffe played the main character!) but we had so much more to see. I wonder how many of the old theaters played Pinafore, when it was first released by Gilbert and Sullivan.