Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Introduction to Gilbert & Sullivan

The Fabulous Feud Of Gilbert And SullivanThe Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Richard Egilski, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009

Arthur Sullivan wanted to write serious music, but his friend W.S. Gilbert kept writing the same silly opera plot over and over again. It looked like their friendship and opera-writing partnership were finished until Mr. Gilbert came up with something entirely new--“The Mikado”, and it was a huge hit.

Gilbert & Sullivan - The Pirates of Penzance / Kline, Ronstadt, Smith, Routledge, Delacorte Theater (Broadway Theatre Archive)It’s my understanding that these two had more than one feud of this sort, but this was a great introduction to who these men were and what their relationship and their music were like. I discovered this book at our local library a few weeks ago, and it inspired me to dig a little deeper. So we borrowed The Pirates of Penzance from the library and had a middle-of-the-week movie night. Definitely time for something light around here. It was lots of fun. Kevin Kline makes a great pirate king—I’ve been watching this number over and over all week.

I’m not aware of many other children’s books that deal with Gilbert & Sullivan operas, but I did find these vintage goodies:

These Curtain-Raiser Books (Franlin Watts, Inc.) are from 1965 and 1966, and are retellings of six G & S operas. The illustrations are by Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone.  A great follow-up to Jonah Winter’s book to see just how similar some of Gilbert's plots are.

I just had to throw this in, too: Anna Russell on “How to Write Your Own Gilbert & Sullivan Opera”


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