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The Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan Paperback – September 17, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393316882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393316889
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From Thespis to The Grand Duke, here are all the words to all the operettas on which William Schenk Gilbert and Arthur Seymour Sullivan collaborated. A fixture in Anglo-American music theater and humor for well over a century, their wit retains its edge after all these years. Norton offers the libretti available in handy, totable book form and generously illustrates them with Gilbert's accomplished pen-and-ink drawings. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, KBE, was an English dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator, best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan, of which the most famous include H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado.

Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan, MVO, was an English composer, of Irish and Italian descent, best known for his operatic collaborations with librettist Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, including such continually popular works as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado. Sullivan's artistic output included 23 operas, 13 major orchestral works, eight choral works and oratorios, two ballets, incidental music to several plays, and numerous hymns and other church pieces, songs, parlour ballads, part songs, carols, and piano and chamber pieces.

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Customer Reviews

Also good for researching trivia questions from devotees.
anne grantham
My one complaint would be that the table of contents links to each act, rather than each song, making it difficult to find one particular song.
Josh S.
I love theatre and musical theatre so much more for their contribution.
Kristi Meyers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Pitti-Sing on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
I invested in this book intending to listen to and memorize all fourteen of the Savoy operas...I now know ten of them practically from heart, which scares my friends terribly. The funny thing is that, although I intended to buy it solely so that I could sing the words to Sullivan's wonderful hummable tunes, I found myself reading the plays just for the pleasure of Gilbert's clever rymes and horribly improbable plotlines. His "Bab" illustrations are also included beside the text, which opens up another side of Gilbert's genius. But be forewarned: There are several mistakes in the text - mostly words such as "is" being replaced with "it," but also some words that are different. Perhaps the words have changed over time from the origonal texts, but once in a while you'll find a word sung differently than what's written. I treat the book like I'd treat an edition of Shakespeare - dramatic work is always bent and changed slightly. In spite of the minor textual mistakes, it is a very useful book and it's nice to have the libretto laid out without any commentary or annotations.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Loren D. Morrison on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Back in prehistoric times when records were brittle things and only came in one speed, 78 RPM's, one of my mother's favorite albums was "H.M.S. Pinafore." She played it frequently. Too young to understand the satire, I was attracted by the catchy music. I loved to hear the captain sing "I am the Captain of the Pinafore," immediately followed by the response of the chorus. This plus "Poor Little Buttercup" and "The Ruler of the Queen's Navee" made a fan of me for life.
Several years later, and after having attended performances of several of these comic operas, I began to read Gilbert's lyrics. I must confess that I got much greater enjoyment out of reading lyrics that were from Gilbert and Sullivan performances that I had attended. I think that must be because neither the words nor the music are nearly as enjoyable in the absence of the other.
I have read that Gilbert and Sullivan had a very stormy relationship. I'm glad that they managed to work together as often as they did because they really complemented one another. What they accomplished as a team speaks for itself in the continued performance of so many of their works over a hundred years after they were first performed.
I have an older hardback of THE COMPLETE PLAYS and I found some humor in the following which may have been corrected in later copies. The book starts off with Chronological Biographies of each man. In Gilbert's it states< "first meeting with Arthur Sullivan autumn of 1870." In Sullivan's we find the following. "Met W. S. Gilbert 1871." Something metaphysical afoot perhaps.
In summary, in my opinion, the works in this book, while certainly enjoyable reading, were really meant to be performed in order to give maximum enjoyment. Others may very well disagree with this opinion and I see nothing wrong with that.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Raven on May 13, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The complete lyrics and dialogue for 14 Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas.

Written during the last half of the nineteenth century, these operettas are funny, entertaining and can easily be adapted to make fun of any current political event (and quite often are). Too grand to be called Musical Theatre and too English to be called Opera, these operettas include such favourites as The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe, H.M.S. Pinafore and all the rest.

This is the perfect book for Gilbert and Sullivan fans, professional and amateur theatre troops alike.

In the Kindle version of this book, the text appears complete, with no errors or omissions. The interactive contents list makes finding the correct play easy, but there is no way to navigate between acts using the 5way controller. There are no pictures in the Kindle version, however, I do not know if there were any in the original.

There is limited citation as to which book this was transcribed from. Amazon's title for this work (at time of writing this review) is 'The Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan' however, the book claims to be 'The 14 Gilbert and Sullivan Plays'. A small discrepancy, I know, but I just thought I'd point it out just in case it proves useful to someone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Josh S. on August 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Its wonderful to have this available on my Kindle when I want to figure out exactly which words are being sung or to read the dialogue between songs.

My one complaint would be that the table of contents links to each act, rather than each song, making it difficult to find one particular song. Patter songs, for example, are far more likely to require looking up than most other songs in the work.

Other than that, though, its quite nice to have.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Whalewatcher on January 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is wonderful to be able to get the complete plays of Gilbert and Sullivan with one click. (Well, actually just Gilbert, since there is no music in this volume, just text.) Unfortunately, the text will only display "centered" on my Kindle, which makes reading a bit difficult. Still, it's a great addition to a reference e-library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles L. Duval on April 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a huge Gilbert & Sullivan fan, and thought it would be cool to have the texts of my favorites handy in my Kindle-Fire. But whoever edited this book made so many typos and misquotes that it was ruined for my purposes. So I deleted it, I'm sorry to say.
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