The Cambridge Companion to Gilbert and Sullivan View larger

The Cambridge Companion to Gilbert and Sullivan



An international team of contributors, including film director Mike Leigh, presents fresh insights into the work of Gilbert and Sullivan.

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Edited by David Eden, Meinhard Saremba

Memorable melodies and fanciful worlds – the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan remain as popular today as when they were first performed. This Companion provides a timely guide to the history and development of the collaboration between the two men, including a fresh examination of the many myths and half-truths surrounding their relationship. Written by an international team of specialists, the volume features a personal account from film director Mike Leigh on his connection with the Savoy Operas and the creation of his film Topsy-Turvy. Starting with the early history of the operatic stage in Britain, the Companion places the operas in their theatrical and musical context, investigating the amateur performing tradition, providing new perspectives on the famous patter songs and analysing their dramatic and operatic potential. Perfect for enthusiasts, performers and students of Gilbert and Sullivan’s enduring work, the book examines their legacy and looks forward to the future.

Bibliographic Details

23 b/w illus. 4 tables 19 music examples


  • Preface David Eden and Meinhard Saremba
  • Part I. Background: 1. Savoy Opera and its discontents: the theatrical background to a quarrel David Eden
  • 2. Identity crisis and the search for English opera: the Savoy Theatre in the 1890s William Parry
  • 3. Resituating Gilbert and Sullivan: the musical and aesthetic context Benedict Taylor
  • 4. We sing as one individual?: popular misconceptions of Gilbert and Sullivan Meinhard Saremba
  • Part II. Focus: 5. The operas in context: stylistic elements – the Savoy and beyond Richard Silverman
  • 6. The librettos in context: Gilberts Fables in Song Horst Dölvers
  • 7. This particularly rapid, unintelligible patter: patter songs and the word-music relationship Laura Kasson Fiss
  • 8. Standing still and moving forward: The Mikado, Haddon Hall, and concepts of time in the Savoy Operas Michael Beckerman
  • 9. Musical contexts I: motives and methods in Sullivans allusions James Brooks Kuykendall
  • 10. Musical contexts II: characterisation and emotion in the Savoy Operas Martin T. Yates
  • Part III. Reception: 11. Topsy-Turvy: a personal journey Mike Leigh
  • 12. Amateur tenors and choruses in public: the amateur scene Ian Bradley
  • 13. Champions and aficionados: amateur and listener experiences of the Savoy Operas in performance Stephanie Pitts
  • 14. How great thy charm, thy sway how excellent!: tracing Gilbert and Sullivans legacy in the American musical Raymond Knapp
  • 15. See how the Fates their gifts allot: the reception of productions and translations in Continental Europe Jana Polianovskaia
  • Part IV. Into the Twenty-First Century: 16. Adventures in musical detection: scholarship, editions, productions and the future of the Savoy Operas David Russell Hulme
  • Appendix 1: Alphabetical list of stage and choral works by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert
  • Appendix 2: Modern editions of works by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert.

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