About Gilbert and Sullivan

W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) and Arthur Sullivan (1848-1900) were the pre-eminent masters of comic opera, the progenitor of the form known today as musical theater.  During their 25-year collaboration, from 1871 to 1896, they wrote 14 operas, an oratorio and three independent songs, with all but one of the operas being produced by Richard D’Oyly Carte (nine of them at London’s landmark Savoy Theatre, built by Carte specifically to house Gilbert & Sullivan’s operas).  The world’s most popular authors of musical theater in their own day, they remain so to the present day, with more than 200 companies throughout the world producing primarily or exclusively the works of Gilbert & Sullivan (see below for links to some of those companies, in this country and abroad).  Their collected works represent the world’s most popular body of musical theater, and ranks second only to Shakespeare in the history of English-language theater.

GILBERT & SULLIVAN: A TIMELINE

  • 1836:  W.S. Gilbert born, 18 November.
  • 1842:  Arthur Sullivan born, 13 May.
  • 1858-1862:  Sullivan studying at Leipzig Conservatory.
  • 1861:  Gilbert becomes a comic journalist.
  • 1866:  Sullivan & Burnand’s Cox and Box premieres.
  • 1866-1870:  Gilbert practicing law.
  • 1869:  Gilbert’s The Bab Ballads published.
  • 1870:  Gilbert and Sullivan meet.
  • 1870:  Gilbert’s The Princess premieres.
  • 1871:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s Thespis premieres, 23 December.
  • 1874:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Distant Shore” published.
  • 1875:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Love that Loves Me Not” and “Sweethearts” published.
  • 1875:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury premieres, 25 March.
  • 1877:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Sorcerer premieres, 17 November.
  • 1878:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore premieres, 25 May.
  • 1879:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance premieres in New York, 31 December.
  • 1880:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance premieres in London, 3 April.
  • 1880:  Sullivan’s The Martyr of Antioch (words arranged by Gilbert) premieres at the Leeds Music Festival, 15 October.
  • 1881:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience premieres, 23 April.
  • 1882:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe premieres, 25 November.
  • 1883:  Arthur Sullivan knighted, 27 May.
  • 1884:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s Princess Ida premieres, 5 January.
  • 1885:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado premieres, 14 March.
  • 1887:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddygore premieres, 22 January.
  • 1888:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard premieres, 3 October.
  • 1889:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, 7 December.
  • 1890-1892:  “The Carpet Quarrel”
  • 1893:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s Utopia, Limited premieres, 7 October.
  • 1896:  Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Grand Duke premieres, 7 March.
  • 1900:  Arthur Sullivan dies, 22 November.
  • 1907:  W.S. Gilbert knighted, 30 June.
  • 1911:  W.S. Gilbert dies, 29 May.
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