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Gilbert & Sullivan; Patience or Bunthorne's Bride

SKU: Patience AB0611-195 $124.95
Authorized Copyright Edition of Patience or Bunthorne's Bride by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan published by Oliver Ditson Boston in 1881. Quarto. Hard Bound in custom plain green cloth. Pages mildly toned. Original front cover with tape repairs. Minor moisture staining to back pages. Otherwise very good condition. Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian-era theatrical partnership of the librettist W. S. Gilbert (1836 1911) and the composer Arthur Sullivan (1842 1900). The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896 of which H.M.S. Pinafore The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado are among the best known. Gilbert who wrote the words created fanciful ''topsy-turvy'' worlds for these operas where each absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion''fairies rub elbows with British lords flirting is a capital offence gondoliers ascend to the monarchy and pirates turn out to be noblemen who have gone wrong. Sullivan six years Gilbert's junior composed the music contributing memorable melodies that could convey both humour and pathos. Their operas have enjoyed broad and enduring international success and are still performed frequently throughout the English-speaking world. Gilbert and Sullivan introduced innovations in content and form that directly influenced the development of musical theatre through the 20th century. The operas have also influenced political discourse literature film and television and have been widely parodied and pastiched by humorists. Producer Richard D'Oyly Carte brought Gilbert and Sullivan together and nurtured their collaboration. He built the Savoy Theatre in 1881 to present their joint works (which came to be known as the Savoy Operas) and founded the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company which performed and promoted Gilbert and Sullivan's works for over a century. Gilbert before Sullivan Gilbert was born in London on 18 November 1836. His father William was a naval surgeon who later wrote novels and short stories some of which included illustrations by his son. In 1861 to supplement his income the younger Gilbert began writing illustrated stories poems and articles of his own many of which would later be mined as inspiration for his plays and operas particularly Gilbert's series of illustrated poems the Bab Ballads. In the Bab Ballads and his early plays Gilbert developed a unique ''topsy-turvy'' style where in humour was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences however absurd. Director and playwright Mike Leigh described the ''Gilbertian'' style as follows: With great fluidity and freedom [Gilbert] continually challenges our natural expectations. First within the framework of the story he makes bizarre things happen and turns the world on its head. Thus the Learned Judge marries the Plaintiff the soldiers metamorphose into aesthetes and so on and nearly every opera is resolved by a deft moving of the goalposts... His genius is to fuse opposites with an imperceptible sleight of hand to blend the surreal with the real and the caricature with the natural. In other words to tell a perfectly outrageous story in a completely deadpan way. Gilbert developed his innovative theories on the art of stage direction following theatrical reformer Tom Robertson. At the time Gilbert began writing theatre in Britain was in disrepute. Gilbert helped to reform and elevate the respectability of the theatre especially beginning with his six short family-friendly comic operas or ''entertainments'' for Thomas German Reed At a rehearsal for one of these entertainments Ages Ago (1869) the composer Frederic Clay introduced Gilbert to his friend the young composer Arthur Sullivan. Two years later Gilbert and Sullivan would write their first work together. Those two intervening years continued to shape Gilbert's theatrical style. He continued to write humorous verse stories and plays including the comic operas Our Island Home (1870) and A Sensation Novel (1871) and the blank verse comedies The Princess (1870) The Palace of Truth (1870) and Pygmalion and Galatea. Sullivan before Gilbert Sullivan was born in London on 13 May 1842. His father was a military bandmaster and by the time Arthur had reached the age of 8 he was proficient with all the instruments in the band. In school he began to compose anthems and songs. In 1856 he received the first Mendelssohn Scholarship and studied at the Royal Academy of Music and then at Leipzig where he also took up conducting. His graduation piece completed in 1861 was a suite of incidental music to Shakespeare's The Tempest. Revised and expanded it was performed at the Crystal Palace in 1862 and was an immediate sensation. He began building a reputation as England's most promising young composer composing a symphony a concerto and several overtures among them the Overture di Ballo in 1870. His early major works for the voice included The Masque at Kenilworth (1864): an oratorio The Prodigal Son (1869): and a dramatic cantata On Shore and Sea (1871). He composed a ballet L'Ae Enchant (1864) and incidental music for a number of Shakespeare plays. Other early pieces that were praised were his Symphony in E Concerto for Cello and Orchestra and Overture in C (In Memoriam) (all three of which premiered in 1866). These commissions however were not sufficient to keep Sullivan afloat. He worked as a church organist and composed numerous hymns popular songs and parlour ballads. Sullivan's first foray into comic opera was Cox and Box (1866) written with librettist F. C. Burnand for an informal gathering of friends. Public performance followed with W. S. Gilbert (then writing dramatic criticism for Fun) saying that Sullivan's score ''is in many places of too high a class for the grotesquely absurd plot to which it is wedded.'' Nonetheless it proved highly successful and is still regularly performed today. Sullivan and Burnand's second opera The Contrabandista (1867) was not as successful. Operas First collaborations Thespis In 1871 producer John Hollingshead brought Gilbert and Sullivan together to produce a Christmas entertainment Thespis at his Gaiety Theatre a large West End house. The piece was an extravaganza in which the classical Greek gods grown elderly are temporarily replaced by a troupe of 19th-century actors and actresses one of whom is the eponymous Thespis the Greek father of the drama. Its mixture of political satire and grand opera parody mimicked Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld and La belle HlAne which (in translation) then dominated the English musical stage. Thespis opened on Boxing Day and ran for 63 performances. It outran five of its nine competitors for the 1871 holiday season but no one at the time anticipated that this was the beginning of a great collaboration. Unlike the later G&S works it was hastily prepared and its nature was more risqu like Gilbert's earlier burlesques with a broader style of comedy that allowed for improvisation by the actors. Two of the male characters were played by women whose shapely legs were put on display in a fashion that Gilbert later condemned. The musical score to Thespis was never published and is now lost except for one song that was published separately a chorus that was re-used in The Pirates of Penzance and the Act II ballet. Over the next four years Gilbert and Sullivan did not have occasion to work together again but each man became more eminent in his field. Gilbert worked with Clay on Happy Arcadia (1872) and with Alfred Cellier on Topsyturveydom (1874) as well as writing several other libretti farces extravaganzas fairy comedies dramas adaptations from novels and translations from the French. Sullivan completed his Festival Te Deum (1872): another oratorio The Light of the World (1873): his only song cycle The Window: or The Song of the Wrens (1871): incidental music to The Merry Wives of Windsor (1874): and more songs parlour ballads and hymns including ''Onward Christian Soldiers'' (1872). Trial by Jury In 1874 Gilbert wrote a short libretto on commission from producer composer Carl Rosa whose wife would have played the leading role but her death in childbirth cancelled the project. Not long afterwards Richard D'Oyly Carte was managing the Royalty Theatre and he needed a short opera to be played as an afterpiece to Offenbach's La Prichole. Gilbert already had available the libretto he had written for Rosa and Carte suggested that Sullivan write the score. The composer was delighted with it and Trial by Jury was composed in a matter of weeks.[ The piece is one of Gilbert's humorous spoofs of the law and the legal profession based on his short experience as a barrister. It concerns a breach of promise of marriage suit. The defendant argues that damages should be slight since ''he is such a very bad lot'' while the plaintiff argues that she loves the defendant fervently and seeks ''substantial damages.'' After much argument the judge resolves the case by marrying the lovely plaintiff himself. With Sullivan's brother Fred as the Learned Judge the opera was a runaway hit outlasting the run of La Prichole. Provincial tours and productions at other theatres quickly followed. Fred Sullivan was the prototype for the ''patter'' (comic) baritone roles in the later operas. F. C. Burnand wrote that he ''was one of the most naturally comic little men I ever came across. He too was a first-rate practical musician... As he was the most absurd person so was he the very kindliest...'' Fred's creation would serve as a model for the rest of the collaborators' works and each of them has a crucial comic little man role as Burnand had put it. The ''patter'' baritone (or ''principal comedian'' as these roles later were called) would often assume the leading role in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas and was usually allotted the speedy patter songs. After the success of Trial by Jury Gilbert and Sullivan were suddenly in demand to write more operas together. Over the next two years Richard D'Oyly Carte was one of several theatrical managers who negotiated with the team but were unable to come to terms. Carte also proposed a revival of Thespis for the 1875 Christmas season which Gilbert and Sullivan would have revised but he was unable to obtain financing for the project. Early successes The Sorcerer Carte's real ambition was to develop an English form of light opera that would displace the bawdy burlesques and badly translated French operettas then dominating the London stage. He assembled a syndicate and formed the Comedy Opera Company with Gilbert and Sullivan commissioned to write a comic opera that would serve as the centrepiece for an evening's entertainment. Gilbert found a subject in one of his own short stories ''The Elixir of Love'' which concerned the complications arising when a love potion is distributed to all the residents of a small village. The leading character was a Cockney businessman who happened to be a sorcerer a purveyor of blessings (not much called for) and curses (very popular). Gilbert and Sullivan were tireless taskmasters seeing to it that The Sorcerer opened as a fully polished production in marked contrast to the under-rehearsed Thespis. While The Sorcerer won critical acclaim it did not duplicate the success of Trial by Jury. Nevertheless Carte and his syndicate were sufficiently encouraged to commission another full-length opera from the team. H.M.S. Pinafore Gilbert and Sullivan scored their first international hit with H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) satirising the rise of unqualified people to positions of authority and poking good-natured fun at the Royal Navy and the English obsession with social status (building on a theme introduced in The Sorcerer love between members of different social classes). As with many of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas a surprise twist changes everything dramatically near the end of the story. Gilbert oversaw the designs of sets and costumes and he directed the performers on stage. He sought realism in acting shunned self-conscious interaction with the audience and insisted on a standard of characterisation where the characters were never aware of their own absurdity. Gilbert insisted that his actors know their words perfectly and obey his stage directions which was something new to many actors of the day. Sullivan personally oversaw the musical preparation. The result was a new crispness and polish in the English musical theatre. As Jessie Bond wrote later: Our stage discipline was strict and unbending. Gilbert's word was law: he thoroughly worked out in his own mind every bit of action by-play and grouping and allowed no deviation from his plan. He... made drawings and took measurements with the minutest care.... He had unlimited fertility of invention in comic business and would allow no gag no clowning no departure from his own definite conception. Sullivan's musical conception was equally clear-cut and decided. Every part must be made subservient to the whole and his sarcasms overwhelmed the transgressor with scorn. ''And now might I trouble you to try over my music'' he would say to a singer too anxious to display his or her top notes. But there was nothing to hurt or offend us in this unswerving discipline we took their good-humoured raillery as our due when we failed in our rendering or overstepped the bounds: and the patience and enthusiasm of that artistic pair so infected all of us that we worked willingly for hours and hours at rehearsals trying with all our might to realize the conceptions of those two brilliant minds. H.M.S. Pinafore ran in London for 571 performances the second longest run of any musical theatre piece in history up to that time (after the operetta Les cloches de Corneville). Hundreds of unauthorised or ''pirated'' productions of Pinafore appeared in America. During the run of Pinafore Richard D'Oyly Carte split up with his former investors. The disgruntled former partners who had each invested in the production with no return staged a public fracas sending a group of thugs to seize the scenery during a performance. Stagehands successfully managed to ward off their backstage attackers. This event cleared the way for Carte Gilbert and Sullivan to form the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company which then produced all of their succeeding operas. The libretto of H.M.S. Pinafore relied on stock character types many of which were familiar from European opera (and some of which grew out of Gilbert's earlier association with the German Reeds): the heroic protagonist (tenor) and his love-interest (soprano): the older woman with a secret or a sharp tongue (contralto): the baffled lyric baritone''the girl's father: and a classic villain (bass-baritone). Gilbert and Sullivan added the element of the comic patter-singing character. With the success of H.M.S. Pinafore the D'Oyly Carte repertory and production system was cemented and each opera would make use of these stock character types. Before The Sorcerer Gilbert had constructed his plays around the established stars of whatever theatre he happened to be writing for as had been the case with Thespis and Trial by Jury. Building on the team he had assembled for The Sorcerer Gilbert no longer hired stars: he created them. He and Sullivan selected the performers writing their operas for ensemble casts rather than individual stars. The repertory system ensured that the comic patter character who performed the role of the sorcerer John Wellington Wells would become the ruler of the Queen's navy as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore then join the army as Major-General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance and so on. Similarly Mrs. Partlet in The Sorcerer transformed into Little Buttercup in Pinafore then into Ruth the piratical maid-of-all-work in Pirates. Relatively unknown performers whom Gilbert and Sullivan engaged early in the collaboration would stay with the company for many years becoming stars of the Victorian stage. These included George Grossmith the principal comic: Rutland Barrington the lyric baritone: Richard Temple the bass-baritone: and Jessie Bond the mezzo-soprano soubrette. The Pirates of Penzance The Pirates of Penzance (New Year's Eve 1879) conceived in a fit of pique at the American copyright pirates also poked fun at grand opera conventions sense of duty family obligation the ''respectability'' of civilisation and the peerage and the relevance of a liberal education. The story also revisits Pinafore's theme of unqualified people in positions of authority in the person of the ''modern Major-General'' who has up-to-date knowledge about everything except the military. The Major-General and his many daughters escape from the tender-hearted Pirates of Penzance who are all orphans on the false plea that he is an orphan himself. The pirates learn of the deception and re-capture the Major-General but when it is revealed that the pirates are all peers the Major-General bids them: ''resume your ranks and legislative duties and take my daughters all of whom are beauties!'' The piece premiered first in New York rather than London in an (unsuccessful) attempt to secure the American copyright and was another big success with both critics and audiences. Gilbert Sullivan and Carte tried for many years to control the American performance copyrights over their operas without success. Nevertheless Pirates was a hit both in New York again spawning numerous imitators and then in London and it became one of the most frequently performed translated and parodied Gilbert and Sullivan works also enjoying a successful 1981 Broadway revival by Joseph Papp. In 1880 Sullivan wrote the cantata The Martyr of Antioch presented at the Leeds Triennial Music Festival with a libretto modified by Gilbert from an 1822 epic poem by Henry Hart Milman concerning the martyrdom of St. Margaret of Antioch in the 3rd century. Sullivan became the conductor of the Leeds festival beginning in 1880 and conducted the performance. It could be said that Martyr was the 15th opera of the partnership since the Carl Rosa Opera Company presented the work as an opera in 1898. Savoy Theatre opens Patience Patience (1881) satirised the aesthetic movement in general and its colourful poets in particular combining aspects of Algernon Charles Swinburne Dante Gabriel Rossetti Oscar Wilde James McNeill Whistler and others in the rival poets Bunthorne and Grosvenor. Grossmith who created the role of Bunthorne based his makeup wig and costume on Swinburne and especially Whistler as seen in the adjacent photo. The work also lampoons male vanity and chauvinism in the military. The story concerns two rival ''aesthetic'' poets who attract the attention of the young ladies of the village who had been engaged to the members of a cavalry regiment. But the two poets are each in love with Patience the village milkmaid who detests one of them and feels that it is her duty to avoid the other despite her love for him. Richard D'Oyly Carte was the booking manager for Oscar Wilde a then lesser-known proponent of aestheticism and dispatched Wilde on an American lecture tour in conjunction with the opera's U.S. run so that American audiences might better understand what the satire was all about. During the run of Patience Carte built the large modern Savoy Theatre which became the partnership's permanent home. It was the first theatre (indeed the world's first public building) to be lit entirely by electric lighting. Patience moved into the Savoy after six months at the Opera Comique and ran for a total of 578 performances surpassing the run of H.M.S. Pinafore and becoming the second longest-running work of musical theatre up to that time in history. Iolanthe Iolanthe (1882) was the first of the operas to open at the Savoy. The fully electric Savoy made possible numerous special effects such as sparkling magic wands for the female chorus of fairies. The opera poked fun at English law and the House of Lords and made much of the war between the sexes. The critics felt that Sullivan's work in Iolanthe had taken a step forward. The Daily Telegraph wrote ''The composer has risen to his opportunity and we are disposed to account Iolanthe his best effort in all the Gilbertian series.'' Similarly the Theatre asserted that ''the music of Iolanthe is Dr Sullivan's chef d'oeuvre. The quality throughout is more even and maintained at a higher standard than in any of his earlier works. Iolanthe is one of a number of Gilbert's works including The Wicked World (1873) Broken Hearts (1875) Princess Ida (1884) and Fallen Fairies (1909) where the introduction of men and ''mortal love'' into a tranquil world of women wreaks havoc with the status quo. Gilbert had created several ''fairy comedies'' at the Haymarket Theatre in the early 1870s. These plays influenced by the fairy work of James Planch are founded upon the idea of self-revelation by characters under the influence of some magic or some supernatural interference. In 1882 Gilbert had a telephone installed in his home and at the prompt desk at the Savoy Theatre so that he could monitor performances and rehearsals from his home study. Gilbert had referred to the new technology in Pinafore in 1878 only two years after the device was invented and before London even had telephone service. Sullivan had one installed as well and on 13 May 1883 at a party to celebrate the composer's 41st birthday the guests including the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) heard a direct relay of parts of Iolanthe from the Savoy. This was probably the first live ''broadcast'' of an opera. During the run of Iolanthe in 1883 Sullivan was knighted by Queen Victoria. Although it was the operas with Gilbert that had earned him the broadest fame the honour was conferred for his services to serious music. The musical establishment and many critics believed that this should put an end to his career as a composer of comic opera''that a musical knight should not stoop below oratorio or grand opera. Sullivan despite the financial security of writing for the Savoy increasingly viewed his work with Gilbert as unimportant beneath his skills and repetitious. Furthermore he was unhappy that he had to simplify his music to ensure that Gilbert's words could be heard. But paradoxically in February 1883 just after Iolanthe opened Sullivan had signed a five-year agreement with Gilbert and Carte requiring him to produce a new comic opera on six months' notice. Princess Ida Princess Ida (1884) spoofed women's education and male chauvinism and continued the theme from Iolanthe of the war between the sexes. The opera is based on Tennyson's poem The Princess: A Medley. Gilbert had written a blank verse farce based on the same material in 1870 called The Princess and he reused a good deal of the dialogue from his earlier play in the libretto of Princess Ida. Ida is the only Gilbert and Sullivan work with dialogue entirely in blank verse and is also the only one of their works in three acts. Lillian Russell had been engaged to create the title role but Gilbert did not believe that she was dedicated enough and when she missed a rehearsal she was dismissed. Princess Ida was the first of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas that by the partnership's previous standards was not a success. A particularly hot summer in London did not help ticket sales. The piece ran for a comparatively short 246 performances and was not revived in London until 1919. Sullivan had been satisfied with the libretto but two months after Ida opened Sullivan told Carte that ''it is impossible for me to do another piece of the character of those already written by Gilbert and myself.'' As Princess Ida showed signs of flagging Carte realised that for the first time in the partnership's history no new opera would be ready when the old one closed. On 22 March 1884 he gave Gilbert and Sullivan contractual notice that a new opera would be required in six months' time. In the meantime when Ida closed Carte produced a revival of The Sorcerer. Dodging the magic lozenge The Mikado The most successful of the Savoy Operas was The Mikado (1885) which made fun of English bureaucracy thinly disguised by a Japanese setting. Gilbert initially proposed a story for a new opera about a magic lozenge that would change the characters which Sullivan found artificial and lacking in ''human interest and probability'' as well as being too similar to their earlier opera The Sorcerer. As dramatised in the film Topsy-Turvy the author and composer were at an impasse until 8 May 1884 when Gilbert dropped the lozenge idea and agreed to provide a libretto without any supernatural elements. The story focuses on a ''cheap tailor'' Ko-Ko who is promoted to the position of Lord High Executioner of the town of Titipu. Ko-Ko loves his ward Yum-Yum but she loves a musician who is really the son of the emperor of Japan (the Mikado) and who is in disguise to escape the attentions of the elderly and amorous Katisha. The Mikado has decreed that executions must resume without delay in Titipu. When news arrives that the Mikado will be visiting the town Ko-Ko assumes that he is coming to ascertain whether Ko-Ko has carried out the executions. Too timid to execute anyone Ko-Ko cooks up a conspiracy to misdirect the Mikado which goes awry. Eventually Ko-Ko must persuade Katisha to marry him in order to save his own life and the lives of the other conspirators. With the opening of trade between England and Japan Japanese imports art and styles became fashionable in London making the time ripe for an opera set in Japan. Gilbert said: I cannot give you a good reason for our... piece being laid in Japan. It... afforded scope for picturesque treatment scenery and costume and I think that the idea of a chief magistrate who is... judge and actual executioner in one and yet would not hurt a worm may perhaps please the public. Setting the opera in Japan an exotic locale far away from Britain allowed Gilbert and Sullivan to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by clothing them in superficial Japanese trappings. Gilbert wrote ''The Mikado of the opera was an imaginary monarch of a remote period and cannot by any exercise of ingenuity be taken to be a slap on an existing institution.'' G. K. Chesterton compared it to Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels: ''Gilbert pursued and persecuted the evils of modern England till they had literally not a leg to stand on exactly as Swift did... I doubt if there is a single joke in the whole play that fits the Japanese. But all the jokes in the play fit the English... About England Pooh-bah is something more than a satire: he is the truth.'' Several of the later operas are similarly set in foreign or fictional locales including The Gondoliers Utopia Limited and The Grand Duke. The Mikado became the partnership's longest-running hit enjoying 672 performances at the Savoy Theatre which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre (surpassing the 571 performances of Pinafore and 576 of Patience) and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera. It has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. Ruddigore Ruddigore (1887) a topsy-turvy take on Victorian melodrama was less successful than most of the earlier collaborations with a run of 288 performances. The original title Ruddygore together with some of the plot devices including the revivification of ghosts drew negative comments from critics. Gilbert and Sullivan respelled the title and made a number of changes and cuts. Nevertheless the piece was profitable and the reviews were not all bad. For instance the Illustrated London News praised the work and both Gilbert and especially Sullivan: ''Sir Arthur Sullivan has eminently succeeded alike in the expression of refined sentiment and comic humour. In the former respect the charm of graceful melody prevails: while in the latter the music of the most grotesque situations is redolent of fun.'' Further changes were made including a new overture when Rupert D'Oyly Carte revived Ruddigore after the First World War and the piece was regularly performed by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company thereafter. Some of the plot elements of Ruddigore were introduced by Gilbert in his earlier one-act opera Ages Ago (1869) including the tale of the wicked ancestor and the device of the ghostly ancestors stepping out of their portraits. When Ruddigore closed no new opera was ready. Gilbert again proposed a version of the ''lozenge'' plot for their next opera and Sullivan reiterated his desire to leave the partnership. While the two men worked out their artistic differences Carte produced revivals of such old favourites as H.M.S. Pinafore The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado. The Yeomen of the Guard The Yeomen of the Guard (1888) their only joint work with a serious ending concerns a pair of strolling players''a jester and a singing girl''who are caught up in a risky intrigue at the Tower of London during the 16th century. The dialogue though in prose is quasi-early modern English in style and there is no satire of British institutions. For some of the plot elements Gilbert had reached back to his 1875 tragedy Broken Hearts. The Times praised the libretto: ''It should... be acknowledged that Mr. Gilbert has earnestly endeavoured to leave familiar grooves and rise to higher things.'' Although not a grand opera the new libretto provided Sullivan with the opportunity to write his most ambitious score to date. The critics who had recently lauded the composer for his successful oratorio The Golden Legend considered the score to Yeomen to be Sullivan's finest including its overture which was written in sonata form rather than as a sequential pot-pourri of tunes from the opera as in most of his other overtures. The Daily Telegraph wrote: The accompaniments...are delightful to hear and especially does the treatment of the woodwind compel admiring attention. Schubert himself could hardly have handled those instruments more deftly written for them more lovingly... We place the songs and choruses in The Yeomen of the Guard before all his previous efforts of this particular kind. Thus the music follows the book to a higher plane and we have a genuine English opera... Yeomen was a hit running for over a year with strong New York and touring productions. During the run on 12 March 1889 Sullivan wrote to Gilbert I have lost the liking for writing comic opera and entertain very grave doubts as to my power of doing it... You say that in a serious opera you must more or less sacrifice yourself. I say that this is just what I have been doing in all our joint pieces and what is more must continue to do in comic opera to make it successful. Sullivan insisted that the next opera must be a grand opera. Gilbert did not feel that he could write a grand opera libretto but he offered a compromise that Sullivan ultimately accepted. The two would write a light opera for the Savoy and at the same time Sullivan a grand opera (Ivanhoe) for a new theatre that Carte was constructing to present British grand opera. After a brief impasse over the choice of subject Sullivan accepted an idea connected with Venice and Venetian life as ''this seemed to me to hold out great chances of bright colour and taking music.'' The Gondoliers The Gondoliers (1889) takes place partly in Venice and partly in a kingdom ruled by a pair of gondoliers who attempt to remodel the monarchy in a spirit of ''republican equality.'' Gilbert recapitulates a number of his earlier themes including the satire of class distinctions figuring in many of his earlier librettos. The libretto also reflects Gilbert's fascination with the ''Stock Company Act'' highlighting the absurd convergence of natural persons and legal entities which plays an even larger part in the next opera Utopia Limited. Press accounts were almost entirely favourable. The Illustrated London News reported: ...Gilbert has returned to the Gilbert of the past and everyone is delighted. He is himself again. The Gilbert of the Bab Ballads the Gilbert of whimsical conceit inoffensive cynicism subtle satire and playful paradox: the Gilbert who invented a school of