Spring 1981: The Gondoliers


The Gondoliers, the 12th of the 14 Gilbert and Sullivan operas, was first presented at the Savoy Theatre, in London on 7 December 1889, and had an original run of 554 performances. From a financial point of view, it was the most successful product of the authors' long collaboration; unfortunately, it was also their last complete success. Just a few months after their new opera opened, the two partners became involved in a quarrel which started over the cost of a new carpet for the theatre but which had to be settled in a court of law. The two operas which they wrote after their 1894 reconciliation are rarely performed today.

Gilbert's libretto for The Gondoliers contained the elements that had, by now, become standard for him: mistaken identities, political satire and a miraculously neat last-minute resolution of the plot: this last device was used in parody of the melodramas that had dominated the English stage in the early 19th century, the final scenes of which would often spring completely unexpected solutions to seemingly insoluble problems.

Sullivan, meanwhile, steeped himself in Italian opera and atmosphere by journeying to Venice before beginning the score to The Gondoliers. He too had parody on his mind, but his particular triumph here, as one critic has noted, was that he "managed to reproduce the Italian operatic style and yet write music which is spontaneous and entirely original." The consistently sunny and joyful qualities of this music belie the great pain that Sullivan suffered when he composed it, victimized as he was by attacks of a kidney problem that plagued him throughout his life.

The opera was an immediate success: over 20,000 copies of the score were sold within a few days of its publication, as were over 70,000 copies of arrangements of individual numbers. On the day after the opening, Gilbert wrote to Sullivan: "I must thank you for the magnificent work you have put into the piece. It gives one the chance of shining right through the twentieth century." Today's performance proves him to have been right.

-- Alan Fischler

Director: John Arden-Hopkins
Music Director: Carol Tennenbaum
Choreography: Terry Benedict, Michael Swart
Producer: Christina Arden


Christine Elliott
Judy Hopkins
Rosalba Bonazza
Karen Thomas
Elizabeth Blades-Zeller
Michael Swart
Jeff Tomkinson
Rob Edwardsen
Marco Palmieri
Robert N. See
Giuseppe Palmieri
Ronald Sinesio
The Duke of Plaza Toro
Brian Smith
The Duchess of Plaza Toro
Esther Handleman Vail
Linda Siembor
John Sherman
Don Alhambra del Bolero
Alan Fischler
Kathy Palokoff


Christina Arden, John Arden-Hopkins, Russ Batson, Terry Benedict, Mary Brzustowicz, Eleanor Cinelli, Bill DeMetsenaere, Lisa DeMetsenaere, Patrick J. Dunford, Patricia Bonino Fischler, Merry Green, Anne Havens, Betsy Holloran, Malcolm Judd, Mary Lou Payne, Suzanne Schroeder, Lyn Shepard, Martha Vail, Jaunell Waldo, Eugene Weren


Set Designer
Anne Havens
Costume Manager
Anne Havens
Program Design
Larry Green
Off-Monroe Players, Inc.
P.O. Box 18722
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 232–5570
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