Gilbert and Sullivan Archive





Compiled by Bill McCann

April 1997



THE GONDOLIERS was first produced at the Savoy Theatre on December 7 1889. It was the last great success Gilbert and Sullivan were to have but it was written against a background of a Company in the process of drifting apart and, perhaps more importantly, the famous "cipher" quarrel which hinged on Sullivan's desire to write grand opera.

The following discussion is a compilation of the thoughts and opinions of subscribers to the SavoyNet Maillist between March 6th and 20th 1997. It should be noted that, while many of the contributors have performed in, and/or extensively researched, THE GONDOLIERS, the following opinions reflect the personal views of the individual contributors to which they are attributed.

The archivist's comments, which are kept to a minimum, are given in italics in order to distinguish them from the main discussion. They consist mostly in identifying points in the discussion where another thread was started and which is more appropriately placed under a different heading.

Many SavoyNetters are fond of using acronyms for some common (and, occasionally, uncommon) phrases. However, for others these remain a profound mystery and even an irritant. I had originally thought of substituting the complete phrase where these occurred in the discussions but that would be to remove what is a characteristic aspect of SavoyNet postings. Instead, I have left them untouched but provided a section where all those that occur in these discussions are translated ( at least I think they are!).

GONDOLIERS provided far fewer postings than anticipated which is, perhaps, a curiosity. In many ways, this is the happiest music that Sullivan produced but is it married to what some consider one of the least inspired of Gilbert's Libretti?. Perhaps the long musical introduction followed by the "talk, talk, talk" of the Plaza-Toros was not the best construction and, in its polarisation, already foreshadowed the break-up of the partnership. Who knows? Despite the relative shortage of postings, some interesting (and amusing) discussions were generated and these did illuminate some obscure little corners in this bright and cheerful opera.

Page created 30 June 1997