Web Operas



Web Operas


All of the Music


The Full Lyrics and Dialogue


Eleven 19th Century Light Operas

The following titles will link you directly to the

Gilbert and Sullivan Archive

  Explore their website to your heart's content.  It is fabulous!
If you prefer, click on an individual opera below

Rose of Persia

Walter Passmore as Hassan With words by Basil Hood and music by Sullivan, this opera was the Savoy's most financially successful hit of the 1890's. Has some really wonderful music, and a very clever libretto. The first modern recording of this opera was distributed with the May 1999 edition of the BBC Music Magazine.


Mr. Jericho

Words by Harry Greenbank and music by Ernest Ford. This one act operetta played at the Savoy Theatre in 1893 as a companion piece to two different operas. Has its own special brand of humor, and some very neat music.


HMS Pinafore

Sir JosephThis opera opened May 28, 1878, at the Opera Comique and ran for 571 performances. The captain's daughter and a common sailor on his ship fall in love. The first smash hit Gilbert and Sullivan opera, and one of the Big Three today.

Pirates of Penzance

Pirate KingOpened April 2, 1880 at Opera Comique and ran for 363 performances. The second smash hit Gilbert and Sullivan opera, and the first ever Web Opera. A young pirate just out of his "indentures" is in love with Mabel, Major General Stanley's ward, while the rest of the pirate crew want to marry the general's other wards.

The Mikado

The most popular Gilbert and Sullivan opera, and arguably the most popular KoKoopera ever written. This opera has delighted audiences for more than a century, and spawned a number of imitations. But none were nearly as good as the original, which represented both Gilbert and Sullivan at the height of their creative geniuses.


Trial by Jury

The only one act Gilbert and Sullivan Opera and the only one without spoken dialogue. This is the oldest G&S Opera to have survived intact. This opera has been a perennial favorite since it was first performed in 1875.


Ages Ago

by W.S. Gilbert and Frederic Clay. Opened November 22, 1869, at the Royal Gallery of Illustration. Dame CherryThis operetta was a great success, making Gilbert the most important playwright at the Gallery of Illustration. Features a picture gallery in an old castle, with ancestors stepping out of the picture frames. This theme was to appear again in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera Ruddigore. This one is more of a comedy than Ruddigore, with lots of sprightly, happy music.


The Carp

by Frank Desprez and Quade Winters. Another first for the G&S Archive -- the first opera scored specifically for the World Wide Web. The original score for this little opera, which played at the Savoy Theatre in 1886 and 1887, was written by Alfred Cellier. This reconstruction has been scored for the G&S Archive by Quade Winter, the composer in residence for the Ohio Light Opera company.


The Contrabandista

Libretto by F. C. Burnand, music by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Opened at St. GriggGeorge's Hall, London, on December 18, 1867. This one is a real rarity -- considerable detective work was involved in coming up with the libretto and score for this Web Opera. This was Sullivan's first two-act operetta, and only his second operetta (the first being Cox and Box). Contains some very nice music.


Cox and Box

Cox and BoxSullivan's first opera, with lyrics by F. C. Burnand. Sergeant Bouncer, an old soldier, has a scheme to get double rent from a single room. By day he lets it to Mr. Box (a printer who is out all night) and by night to Mr. Cox (a hatter who works all day). But then Mr. Cox gets an unexpected day off. This delightful little opera has been a perennial favorite since it was first performed in 1866.

 The Zoo

GiraffeLibretto by B. Rowe (B. C. Stephenson), and music by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Hi-jinks on a sunny afternoon in the London Zoological Gardens. First performed on June 5, 1875, a few weeks after Trial By Jury opened. It was produced as an afterpiece to Gilbert's farce Tom Cobb. Like Trial by Jury, The Zoo is a one-act piece without spoken dialogue.



This wonderful painting is by James Tissot...(1836-1902).






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The producers of Mike Leigh's vibrant Topsy-Turvy took many big studio meetings seeking financing for their film. Word has it all went swimmingly until time for the pitch came--there are apparently no two words as unsettling to Hollywood film execs as "Gilbert & Sullivan." But the studio system's loss turned out to be the indie film's--and our--gain. Leigh's film brought the composers' late-19th-century mounting of their breakthrough The Mikado to an all-too-familiar life, filled with as many neuroses, foibles, and fragile egos as any modern Broadway musical. The film's score, an inviting pastiche adapted from Mikado (and other G&S staples) by veteran Carl Davis, may upset purists with its time-conscious liberties. But then, it might just win over a receptive yet unexposed new audience for whom this music may seem strangely familiar, as well it should: this is where modern musical theater began. --Jerry McCulley


Philadelphia, January 1850


Several, knotty points of etiquette have, from time to time, been submitted to us for decision; and one or two of them are really of consequence enough to be noted.

Is it proper for the escort of a lady to request gentleman occupying good seats at a concert or lecture, to give them up to himself and charge, and retire to parts unknown in search of a standing place, if the room should be crowded?

To this, we would answer that, if the gallantry of the gentlemen thus situated does not prompt them to proffer the seats in question, it is rudeness to request it. A lady is a lady, it is true; but if she could not come early enough to get a good seat, she cannot expect that spectators who did should inconvenience themselves for her sake.

If it is at the theatre, where seats have been taken, it is the height of rudeness to request such a favor; particularly if ladies be of the filet party. They must then be separated from their escort; a strange lady is set down in the midst of their party, and all are placed in en awkward position. We are afraid that the inborn politeness of American men has spoiled some of our ladies, if they expect so much. In Europe, you would be laughed at, if such an exchange were demanded; and it would be fortunate if the affair did not end in a rencontre, if the parties were equals.

We may as well mention here, for the sake of the other sex, that loud thumping with canes and umbrellas, in demonstration of applause, is voted decidedly rude. Clapping the hands is quite as efficient, and neither raises a dust to soil the dresses of the ladies, not a hubbub enough to deafen them.