Saturday, 23 May 2009

Gilbert & Sullivan

Today, for no discernible reason, I was thinking about those quintessentially English works, the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan. We rarely think of the writers separately, more like gilbertandsullivan. They didn't even get on very well. Sullivan, tall and fair, considered himself (perhaps rightly) a composer somewhat above comic opera, and the shorter, rotunder Gilbert to be a mere scribbler. But together they created a dozen or so comic masterpieces that have triumphantly stood the test of time and are still performed all over the world. Together with Richard D'Oyly Carte, their manager, they formed the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, one of the most successful and creative partnerships ever. Gilbert's jokes and satire still ring true and can easily be applied to modern times, and Sullivan's tunes, which complement the lyrics perfectly, are known to most of us and sung or hummed every day somewhere. Who is there who can't sing something from The Mikado or HMS Pinafore? Or quote "What never? Well, hardly ever....", or "Let the punishment fit the crime"?

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