The Comic Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan | William Schwenk Gilbert - Dramatist | Sir Arthur Sullivan - Composer | 'HMS Pinafore'
'The Pirates of Penzance' | 'Patience' | 'Iolanthe' | 'The Mikado' | 'Ruddigore' | 'The Yeoman of the Guard' | 'The Gondoliers'
The D'Oyly Carte Company
The Pirates of Penzance , or the Slave of Duty , premiered on 31 December, 1879, in New York , opening three months later at the Opera Comique in London. This was Gilbert and Sullivan's fifth opera together, and followed the huge success of HMS Pinafore . The multiple openings were an attempt by the duo to protect their copyright: The D'Oyly Carte Company were in New York performing Pinafore after a number of unauthorised versions had sprung up. At the same time they were rehearsing to open Pirates , but in order to maintain their English copyright, a special performance was held in Paignton, Devon.
The opera satirises the upper classes of the time. In Major General Stanley, Gilbert parodies the newly-rich aristocracy, while in the behaviour of the Pirates, he mocks the idea that nobilityContinued page 2/11