An academic study of the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan has been released last month (July 2016).

The study is the culmination of 35 years’ of research by Dr Ian Bradley of the University of St Andrews.

The Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan includes new songs discovered in the last twenty years, the first full analysis of the ‘lost’ musical Thespis (their first work together) and a summary of Gilbert and Sullivan’s influence on the worlds of literature, music and entertainment in the 150 years since their first collaboration.

Dr Bradley, Principal of St Mary’s College and Reader in Church History & Practical Theology at the University’s School of Divinity, says: “This book represents the culmination of 35 years of research by me on the background, sources, textual variants, production points and context of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Savoy operas.

“My first annotated edition of the most popular operas was first published by Penguin in 1982. Since then the work has expanded to cover all the operas and there have been numerous editions, for the last twenty years published by Oxford University Press, which have kept pace with new productions and the discovery of numerous lost songs which were cut before or shortly after opening night.

“This massive new 20th anniversary edition for the first time includes Gilbert and Sullivan’s first collaboration, ‘Thespis’, which has never been properly annotated before and incorporates much new material. For the first time I have included many of the G&S references in popular culture, including The Simpsons, Frasier, The West Wing and numerous quotations of songs in films.”

Active between 1871 and 1896, librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan’s work includes the perennially popular Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and HMS Pinafore. The Victorian composers directly influenced comics, writers and composers including Ivor Novello, Irving Berlin, Noel Coward, P. G. Wodehouse, the group Monty Python, and even Private Eye, while household names such as Bob Geldof, Terry Wogan, Kate Adie and Robbie Coltrane all cut their teeth performing the works of G&S.

The University of St Andrews’ own Gilbert and Sullivan Society – considered to be one of the best student groups – will take the news to their performance of The Mikado at the Fringe this August. Dr Bradley has taken the lead role as the Mikado in the society’s last three productions, but this time round will be appearing instead at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate to launch his new book.

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