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W. S. Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (18 November 1836 – 29 May 1911) was an English dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator best known for his collaboration with composer Arthur Sullivan, which produced fourteen comic operas. The most famous of these include H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and one of the most frequently performed works in the history of musical theatre, The Mikado. The popularity of these works was supported for over a century by year-round performances of them, in Britain and abroad, by the repertory company that Gilbert, Sullivan and their producer Richard D'Oyly Carte founded, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. These Savoy operas continue to be frequently performed in the English-speaking world and beyond.

Gilbert's creative output included over 75 plays and libretti, and numerous short stories, poems and lyrics, both comic and serious. After brief careers as a government clerk and a lawyer, Gilbert began to focus, in the 1860s, on writing light verse, including his Bab Ballads, short stories, theatre reviews and illustrations, often for Fun magazine. He also began to write burlesques and his first comic plays, developing a unique absurdist, inverted style that would later be known as his "topsy-turvy" style. He also developed a realistic method of stage direction and a reputation as a strict theatre director. In the 1870s, Gilbert wrote 40 plays and libretti, including his German Reed Entertainments, several blank-verse "fairy comedies", some serious plays, and his first five collaborations with Sullivan: Thespis, Trial by Jury, The Sorcerer, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance. In the 1880s, Gilbert focused on the Savoy operas, including Patience, Iolanthe, The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers.

In 1890, after this long and profitable creative partnership, Gilbert quarrelled with Sullivan and Carte concerning expenses at the Savoy Theatre; the dispute is referred to as the "carpet quarrel". Gilbert won the ensuing lawsuit, but the argument caused hurt feelings among the partnership. Although Gilbert and Sullivan were persuaded to collaborate on two last operas, they were not as successful as the previous ones. In later years, Gilbert wrote several plays, and a few operas with other collaborators. He retired, with his wife Lucy, and their ward, Nancy McIntosh, to a country estate, Grim's Dyke. He was knighted in 1907. Gilbert died of a heart attack while attempting to rescue a young woman to whom he was giving a swimming lesson in the lake at his home.

Gilbert's plays inspired other dramatists, including Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, and his comic operas with Sullivan inspired the later development of American musical theatre, especially influencing Broadway librettists and lyricists. According to The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Gilbert's "lyrical facility and his mastery of metre raised the poetical quality of comic opera to a position that it had never reached before and has not reached since".

Birth and Death Data: Born November 18, 1836 (London), Died May 29, 1911 (London)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1899 - 1942

Roles Represented in DAHR: librettist

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 151-175 of 211 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Gramophone Cc1746 12-in. 7/27/1922 H.M.S. Pinafore D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Vocal soloists and vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Gramophone Cc1747 12-in. 7/27/1922 H.M.S. Pinafore D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Vocal soloists and vocal chorus, with orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2769af 12-in. 7/30/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; John Harrison ; Violet Oppenshaw ; Edna Thornton Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2771af 12-in. 7/30/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Violet Essex ; John Harrison ; Edna Thornton Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2773af 12-in. 7/30/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; John Harrison Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2775af 12-in. 7/30/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Violet Essex ; Violet Oppenshaw ; Edna Thornton Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2777af 12-in. 7/30/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Violet Oppenshaw Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2779af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; John Harrison Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2781af 12-in. 7/30/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Violet Essex Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2782af 12-in. 7/30/1917 The Mikado George Baker ; D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Edna Thornton Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2790af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado George Baker ; D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2792af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2798af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2800af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Robert Radford Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2802af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado George Baker ; D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Robert Radford ; Edna Thornton Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2803af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2806af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado George Baker ; D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Edna Thornton Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2807af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado George Baker ; D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Violet Essex ; John Harrison ; Robert Radford Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2809af 12-in. 8/2/1917 The Mikado George Baker ; D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; John Harrison ; Robert Radford Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2812af 12-in. 8/3/1917 The Mikado George Baker ; D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Robert Radford Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2814af 12-in. 8/15/1917 The Mikado George Baker ; D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Ernest Pike ; Robert Radford Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2815af 12-in. 8/3/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Arthur Wood Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2817af 12-in. 8/15/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Arthur Wood Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone HO2915af 12-in. 10/16/1917 The Mikado D'Oyly Carte Opera Company ; Bessie Jones ; Ernest Pike ; Robert Radford ; Edna Thornton Operetta : Vocal soloist(s), and/or chorus/orchestra librettist  
Gramophone 0EA7198 10-in. Before 3/27/1939 The Mikado : Selections Louis Levy Orchestra Orchestra librettist  
(Results 151-175 of 211 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gilbert, W. S.," accessed February 7, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102767.

Gilbert, W. S.. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102767.

"Gilbert, W. S.." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 7 February 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102767

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