User:W.E. Sapphire/Gilbert and Sullivan

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“When people have to obey other people's orders, equality's out of the question!”
~ Dick Deadeye on Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B

Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated on 14 comic operas and 28 works of art.

edit Early Lives

W.S. "Wolfgang Scheidt" Gilbert was born at an early age and spent much of his time writing lyrics for classic English literature. He got his middle name from his godfather Uther Scheidt, the last of a long line of Scheidts. Gilbert disliked his middle name, for an unknown reason, and tried (unsuccessfully) to hush it up. Among his early works are "Homer's Odyssey" (later made into the popular televisual cartoon The Simpsons), The Iliad (later became a tennis matinee idol of the 1970s), and Frongs, which he worked into the libretto for The Pirates of Penzance which contains the following memorable chorus:

Ow, ow, gerroff me leg

Disillusioned with his first efforts, Gilbert decided to abandon the paintbrush he was writing with to experiment with lead. Initial attempts were disastrous, leading to a massive build up of the toxic substance in his blood stream. This certainly contributed toward his death at an early age and gout; completely dying while trying to rescue 2 maidens from his lake - it is now known he weighed over 800 lbs at the time. Fortunately for posterity, the lead pencil was invented in 1872 and Gilbert leapt on this magnificent tool, puncturing both lungs in the process. It was during a long convalescence in Milton Keynes that he met his future collaborator, Arthur Sullivan, making the following memorable witticism: "Oi, fishface, you couldn't write proper music to save your life!"

Sir (short for Cirrhosis of the liver) Arthur Sullivan was in fact a small chimpanzee, cleverly shaven to give a human impression. Being careful to avoid being photographed together (Gilbert was over 9' tall) the pair used computer imagery to alter Sullivan's height - clearly seen in the 1885 portrait "He's that tall really, honest guv." He was born at an even earlier age than Gilbert and never regretted it. His first words were "George Bush", an unsolved riddle to this day. Being a gifted vocalist, he studied Sanscrit at St Pauls Cathedral College, Oxford and wrote his first piece of music at the early age of 28 - The Barbershop Quadrille. Thus began a lifelong love of all Barbershop music and formed the first of many bones of contention between our protagonists.

After St Pauls, Sullivan studied for his PH~D in "Dick Van Dyke & Barbershop Musicology" at Milton Keynes University. Legend has it that he fell off his skateboard and a youthful Gilbert picked him up in his manly arms, his chest heaving with desire and kissed his wounds with hot, pulsating lips. But it is more likely that they actually met in the pub. It is a fact, however, that their first collaboration was "Thespis" and thankfully, this overwhelming pile of drivel has been lost to posterity. The one remaining song "Angels" was used in a later operetta and covered by Robbie Williams at some point in the 20th century.

Thus began one of music's most enduring partnerships - Robbie Williams and his ego. However, Gilbert and Sullivan didn't do badly either, and their operas are now universally loved among the over-seventies. The following is a list of their collaborations.

Trial By Jury (1871) - written and performed in 1876 - was hugely popular, with many of its songs quickly becoming street anthems. Who could forget the haunting strains of "I've Got A Luverly Bunch of Cocoanuts" or the uptempo and screamingly funny, "Moonriver."

The Sorcerer (1871) - a damning indictment on the Salem Witch hunts, with no memorable songs at all

H.M.S Pinafore - definitely written some time in the 19th century - the first of many operettas beginning with P, and including such memorable songs as "I Am the Captain of the Fish Finger" and "I'm Called Goran Eriksson, Sven Goran Eriksson, Though I Could Never Tell Why".

Pirates of the Carribean - the second of many operettas beginning with P - originally performed in New York with a cast including Calvin Klein as the Pirate King and Angela Lansbury And Her Amazing Cockerney Accent as Roof.

Patience - the last of many operettas beginning with P - an experimental theatrical experience consisting of a little old lady sitting at a table dealing cards, to the accompaniment of the same 4 bars of music repeated 30,000 times. At the end she stands up and shouts "I've lost!" Oscar Wilde, who attended the first night, commented wittily: "That was rubbish."

Iolanthe - Originally called the Peer and the Peri. They decided they'd had enough of P's, and so named this operetta after the not so extinct cuttlefish, the Coelacanth- a programme misspelling resulted in Iolanthe. It would be 8 years before anyone noticed

Princess Ida - the pair suddenly found inspiration and started this story of Princess Diana with another P. Sadly, yet another typo resulted in the title being corrupted and it took a further 87 years before GIlbert spotted the mistake

The Mikado- a jolly Japanese romp in SegaWorld, with the hero "Nintendo" singing that perennial favourite "A Wandering Minstrel, I, a champion of Doctor Kamikaze's Brain Training." Point of interest: Gilbert received the 1896 Oscar for his compelling portrayal of Birdy Num Num in Three Little Maids. On the first night the opera ended with the entire cast beheaded and the stage awash with blood. As the curtain fell there were cries of "Take off this rot! Give us Princess Ida!" but after hasty rewrites and the recruiting of a new cast the opera went on to run for 37 years - considered a long time in those days.

Gordons Makes Us Drunk- the pair go back to their artistic roots in this nonsensical topsy turvey film about eating fish at Gordon Ramsey's Restaurants.

The Yeomen of the Guard - a clever parody on the alternative title "Beefeaters", where the heroine finds herself lost in Wimbledon's Macdonalds and is finally rescued by Morgan Spurlock, as he supersizes the Happy Pappy Crappy Meal into a Lobster Thermador

Oklahoma! - frequently, and erroneously, attributed to Andrew Lloyd Webber, this little known opera about Texas Oil Barons was actually written by Gilbert and Sullivan

The Gondoliers - a whimsical and humorous look at Mussolini's Communist regime

Utopia Ltd - no idea what this is all about - saw it once and fell asleep, ooh, sorry, no, actually I was performing in it, still fell asleep though.

The Grand Duke - following in the footsteps of "Jerry Springer - the Musical" and "Thatcher - the horror", Gilbert and Sullivan wrote this fawning celebration of HRH Prince Philip 38 years before he was born.

The Dying Embers

It is a well known fact that both Gilbert and Sullivan hated each other. It is not so well known that their dislike was much mellowed by their joint animosity toward the entrepreneur, Richard D'Oyly Carte. Carte became embroiled in their lives shortly after their early collaboration "The Sorcerer", where he was commissioned to design a paper napkin to enhance the tea trays and cake trolleys for the Teacup brindisi at the end of Act 1. It is a matter of legend that from this venture, the paper D'Oyly was born and made him a billionaire overnight. Gilbert and Sullivan never forgave him.

In a desperate attempt to placate them, Carte bought Bournemouth and began his own operatic theatre there. The Bournemouth Savoy Theatre was dedicated to Gilbert and Sullivan, but neither would ever set foot inside its hallowed doors. On an interesting historical note - there is still a Gilbert and Sullivan Society in Bournemouth to this day, the only surviving one. Sadly, the performances are no longer the sprightly tongue in cheek operettas that G & S wrote but massive blank verse epic dramas performed in ancient Sanskrit.

Gilbert quickly tired of writing and became more involved in his painting, encouraging Sullivan to collaborate on many magnificent works. With the vast amount of painting, sculpture and performance art emanating from this inspired and magical twosome, London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, erected the TATE MODERN to house all their work (it is still standing today).

W.S.Gilbert died peacefully drowned in his own lake.

Sir Arthur Sullivan never recovered from the loss of his partner and altered all the history books so that he died first. His actual death is still shrouded in mystery, with some saying that he can still be seen in Monkey World, while others have suggested that he is now the President of the United States.

They have won many awards, including the Turner Prize (awarded posthumously - with everyone agreeing that all future winners should be dead). All work and no play Makes Jack A Dull Boy


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