Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Carol Tufts


Gilbert and Sullivan, Operas


The musical comedienne Anna Russell once said that it seemed to her that everywhere she was traveling, there was always someone in the process of staging a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. While she was joking, her claim is not that far from the truth. Until the D'Oyly Carte Company ceased its operation in February 1982, due to termination of its government funding, a professional company devoted solely to producing these shows existed in England. In the United States, amateur Gilbert and Sullivan societies abound; even at Oberlin College, Gilbert and Sullivan operas have been presented nearly every year for a century. Despite this persistence, however, these operas are often brushed aside as unworthy of serious attention.

I do not believe that these operas should be so easily dismissed. Consider that Gilbert and Sullivan's works have remained popular for over a century now. Which of their contemporaries can make that claim? Few persons outside the academic community could name another opera produced in England at the turn of the 19th Century. Why have Gilbert and Sullivan operas remained popular, when works of their contemporaries receive only sporadic attention at best?