Gilbert and Sullivan

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Gilbert and Sullivan are widely known as one of the great British opera-writing duos
of the late 19th century. Or, perhaps, the only great British opera-writing duo of the
late 19th century. Though they are credited with numerous famous works, including
The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance, it has been suggested that they only ever
wrote one operetta with a single song, and they merely vary the costumes and the quality
of the actors from performance to performance.

The plot of the single G&S operetta goes something like this: A dozen identical people
show up on stage singing The Song. (Depending on the costumes used in this particular
performance, the people may be young maidens, pirates, Japanese citizens, used vacuum
cleaner salesmen, etc.) From among this group, person A emerges. He/She is madly in
love with person B (and woefully sings The Song to attest to the fact) who emerges in
the following scene. But alas, person B is in love with person C who (depending on the
quality of the acting) has been sentenced to death, captured by pirates, joined the local
government, is a poet, or has contracted a terminal disease. As the first act closes,
everyone sings The Song, lamenting just how screwed up the world can be (and you're
inclined to agree with them because you can't believe you actually paid $30 for a balcony
seat to see this schlock.) By the middle of the second act, person D arrives, falls in love
with and marries person A (who had given up on all hope of marrying person B -- or
was it C?). Person C sings The Song and by doing so, is miraculously
rescued/pardoned/healed such that he/she can marry person B and everyone lives
happily ever after. (After singing a final joyful chorus of The Song, that is.)

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