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D’Oyly Carte Opera Company Poster for The Yeomen of the Guard at the Savoy Theatre, 1897 (University of Rochester Library)
Lyricist and playwright William Schwenck Gilbert and composer Arthur Seymour Sullivan formed one of the greatest theatrical teams in history. Beginning with the premiere of their first collaboration, Trial by Jury, in 1875, the stage was set for some of the most hilarious, melodious, and immortal operettas in the English language.
Sharp satirists of Victorian society, in their operettas Gilbert and Sullivan took no prisoners…in the most delightful ways. The two happily needled the age’s rigid class system, government, monarchy, new ideas of equality, lawyers, the Royal Navy, grand opera, and the reigning literary-artistic Aesthetic movement. Their works were highlights of the Savoy Theatre’s stage history and brought British comic opera to its peak.
In this lively evening, Steinway Artist and musical theater expert Robert Wyatt and performers from the Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society introduce the theatrical duo and the cultural and societal trends that informed their work. Through musical recordings, film clips, and a live performance, enjoy excerpts from some of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most beloved operettas—from The Yeoman of the Guard, The Mikado, and The Gondoliers to HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance—and experience how they combined musical sophistication with scathing satire to achieve international success.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)