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National Portrait Gallery

Exhibition Detail
Gilbert & Sullivan
St Martin's Place
London WC2H 0HE
United Kingdom

March 8th, 2011 - December 3rd, 2011
Sibyl Grey, Leonora Braham, and Jessie Bond in The Mikado,
Sibyl Grey, Leonora Braham, and Jessie Bond in The Mikado,
by Herbert Rose Barraud, published by Carson & Comerford, published 1 July 1885, woodburytype
© Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery
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Open daily 10am - 6pm; Late night opening Thursday and Friday until 9pm

The librettist William Schwenck Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan are among the most celebrated names of the Victorian stage. Their collaboration lasted from 1871 to 1896 and produced the masterpieces of comic opera, HMS Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1880), The Mikado (1885) and The Gondoliers (1890). The works are collectively known as the Savoy Operas after the theatre that was built for their performances by the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte in 1881.

Their success was due to the deft marriage of Sullivan’s virtuoso scores with Gilbert’s absurd plots and witty word play. London had never seen musical comedy performances of such range and quality. In Gilbert’s words, they dealt with ‘thoroughly farcical subject[s] in a thoroughly serious manner’. Their ‘topsy-turvy’ plots, which inverted all norms and conventions, held up a satirical mirror to Victorian society.

This display marks their achievements on the centenary of W.S. Gilbert’s death. It includes photographs of the pair alongside cast members of original productions.

Room 28

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