Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information
Gilbert and Sullivan
Yum-Yum. Yum-Yum gets to sing some of the most beautiful music Sullivan ever wrote, including the lovely "The Sun whose Rays".
The Mikado. The most successful of all their operas, "The Mikado" was featured in the excellent movie about Gilbert and Sullivan, "Topsy-Turvy".
Trial by Jury. While only one act, "Trial by Jury" is a masterpiece, a hilarious parody about the law. Interestingly enough, Gilbert trained as an attorney, so he knew what he was talking about.
Princess Ida. "Princess Ida" is performed infrequently today, thanks to Gilbert's politically incorrect story. While the storyline may be dated, the music is not. One of Sullivan's loveliest scores, well worth investigating.
Richard D'Oyly Carte. D'Oyly Carte was one of the greatest managers in theatrical history. Without his tactful intervention, the partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan would have been very short, as Gilbert and Sullivan had a rather rocky relationship.
The Pirates of Penzance. "Pirates" is another one of Gilbert and Sullivan's big hits. It had its premiere simultaneously in England and New York.
The Savoy. The Savoy had the honor of being the first theater in the world to be lit by electricity.
Dick Deadeye. Dick Deadeye is a real bad 'un indeed! He tries to stop the marriage of Ralph and Josephine, but fortunately fails.
|The frequent coincidences, role reversals, and overly tidy straightening of strands of the plots of the operettas were given a collective name. What was this name?||A General Gilbert and Sullivan Quiz
Topsy-turvydom. Gilbert coined this term, and wrote the following poem about 'Topsy-turvydom':
I dreamt that somehow I had come
To dwell in topsy-turvydom
Where vice is virtue - virtue vice
Where nice is nasty - nasty nice:
Where right is wrong and wrong is right
Where white is black and black is white.
(From Diana Bell, The Complete Gilbert and Sullivan, Sandstone Books, 1998, page 48.)
Of course, Topsy-Turvy was also the name of the recent movie about the pair's collaboration on The Mikado.
2. "Trial By Jury" has only one act, while "Princess Ida" has three.
Richard D'Oyly Carte. Richard D'Oyly Carte was in fact christened Richard Doyle McCarthy.
P . Beginning with "HMS Pinafore", many of the operettas contained the letter P in their titles or subtitles. Others were "The Pirates of Penzance", "Patience", "Iolanthe" (or "The Peer and the Peri") and "Princess Ida".
"Iolanthe". "Patience" was the first of the operettas to be performed in the Savoy Theatre, but it transferred there in October 1881 after starting its run in April at the Opera Comique. "The Pirates of Penzance" premiered in the United States, (after a single performance in England to secure the British copyright) and its British run was also at the Opera Comique. "Princess Ida" had its complete run in the Savoy Theatre, but "Iolanthe" came first.
4 . This is a bit of a tricky one - the four which I was referring to are "Patience", "Iolanthe", "Princess Ida" and "Thespis", all of which are the names of both the operettas and characters in them. It's made more difficult both by the inclusion of "Thespis", and the fact that a number of the operettas' titles - "The Sorcerer", "The Mikado", "The Yeoman of the Guard" and "The Grand Duke" - refer to characters, but not by their names.
William Schwenck. Considering the trouble I have spelling Schwenck, I'm hardly surprised he chose to be known by his initials!
"The Grand Duke". "Utopia Limited" was the second last operetta which the two created, while "The Gondoliers" was their last real success. "The Lost Chord" is not an operetta, but rather a ballad written by Sullivan.
14. Although only 13 of the operettas still exist, the pair created a total of 14. One of these, "Thespis", was a resounding failure, and the music was lost. However, Gilbert and Sullivan went on to create 13 more operettas - "Trial by Jury", "The Sorcerer", "HMS Pinafore", "The Pirates of Penzance", "Patience", "Iolanthe", "Princess Ida", "The Mikado", "Ruddigore", "The Yeoman of the Guard", "The Gondoliers", "Utopia Limited" and "The Grand Duke".
Either Alexis or the Sorcerer must die. Mr. Wells: '... There is one means by which this spell may be removed.'
Alexis: 'Name it - oh, name it!'
Mr. Wells: 'Or you or I must yield up his life to Ahrimanes. I would rather it were you. I should have no hesitation in sacrificing my own life to spare yours, but we take stock next week, and it would not be fair on the Co.'
He is engaged. 'At what I'm going to say be not enraged - I may not love you - for I am engaged!'
Sunflowers. 'Love me! I'll stick sunflowers in my hair!'
The Notary. 'But when I saw this plain old man, Away my old affection ran - I found I loved him madly.' She does end up with Dr. Daly, though.
Tea. 'Good then, Mr. Wells, I shall feel obliged if you will at once pour as much philtre into this tea-pot as will suffice to affect the whole village.'
Crumpets and cakes. 'Now to the banquet we press, Now for the eggs and the ham, Now for the mustard and cress, Now for the strawberry jam! Now for the tea of our host, Now for the rollicking bun, Now for the muffin and toast, Now for the gay Sally Lunn!'
John Wellington Wells. 'Oh! My name is John Wellington Wells, I'm a dealer in magic and spells.' The others are also characters from different Gilbert and Sullivan operettas - Mervyn Murgatroyd is a minor character in 'Ruddigore', Archibald Grosvenor is from 'Patience', and Richard Cholmondeley is from 'The Yeoman of the Guard'.
Alexis and Aline. 'For to-day young Alexis - young Alexis Pointdextre, Is betrothed to Aline - to Aline Sangazure.'
|Naturally, John Smith is found to have the identifying birthmark behind his ear. Thus, he is really the rich tycoon and can marry the heroine after all. What is Clodbelly Bunyan's fate?||Write Your Own Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
He has to marry the contralto.. It does seem to be a tradition of sorts in G&S that the little patter-song fellow ends up marrying the portly contralto. Here's the final ensemble:
JOHN SMITH: "I am the one, I have an on-
ion mark behind my ear!"
PNEUMONIA: "Oh ecstasy! He soon will be
My lovely husband dear!"
BUNYAN: "This marriage would have been a strain,
I'm glad that I am free again!
I really am delighted as can be!"
DANDELION: "I hope he'll be delighted still,
When he finds it's traditional
That in the end he has to marry (HA HA!) me!"
|The contralto character is currently the Vanderfeller's publicity woman. Prior to this, however, she had been a nurse in a maternity ward (of course!). As you've probably guessed, she got her charges hopelessly mixed up. One of them was little Clodbelly Bunyan, whom she claims had an identifying birthmark. What was it shaped like? Hint: it rhymes with his name).||Write Your Own Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
A Spanish onion. "The newborn babes they trusted to my care,
All alike! Bright red, no teeth, no hair.
But one I knew was little baby Bunyan,
He'd a birthmark there... (indicates behind her ear)
Just like a Spanish onion!"
|Just as the knot is about to be tied, the wedding is interrupted by the inevitable portly contralto with a foghorn-like voice; indispensible to any G&S operetta. What is her name?||Write Your Own Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
Dandelion. Dandelion is an obvious send-up of Buttercup from "H.M.S. Pinafore".
Her quartet singing isn't what it used to be.. In her vocal prime (?), Russell's singing of the various parts of the quartet was a tour-de-force.
He's impotent. "To found the Bunyan dynasty, a very great pomposity,
Pneumonia shall wed me, though she finds me a monstrosity,
And has a feeling for me of the wildest animosity,
The nuptials will be solemnized this afternoon.
But all these machinations leave a feeling of futility,
My cor'nary thrombosis is affecting my ability,
increased avoirdupoisity has RUINED my virility!
I am a very miserable rich tycoon!"
|The romantic lead, John Smith, is the tenor who, according to tradition, MUST sing an aria in 6/8 time, usually accompanying himself on a stringed instrument. Complete the title of his aria: "Things would be so different, if ____________"?||Write Your Own Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta
"...they were not as they are". Yes sir, there's no arguing with that logic.