Musical ‘bible’ set for re-release

Thursday 21 July 2016


An academic study of the famously topsy-turvy worlds of the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan is to be released this month (July 2016).

The study is the culmination of 35 years’ of research by one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject, Dr Ian Bradley of the University of St Andrews.

Hailed amongst fans and fellow scholars as the ‘Bible’ of the so-called Savoy operas, the book is the most up-to-date analysis by Dr Bradley, who first released paperback studies of the subject in the 1980s.

This time round, 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.

gands-mainbody-2Dr 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, 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.

Dr Bradley’s new book reflects the success of the current international G & S scene, which is booming thanks to Scottish Opera Mikado, ENO Mikado, and more current, edgy and often all-male productions.

News of the book is already causing a stir in the world of G & S scholarship and fandom, with Facebook groups on the subject going into meltdown when news of the release made it online.

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.

Dr Bradley, who is renowned amongst St Andrews students for leading G & S sing-alongs at graduation garden parties, continued: “For the last 15 years I have derived enormous pleasure from my active involvement in the University’s G & S Society, of which I have been honorary life president since 2004. Taking part in numerous productions, concerts and other events with the society has kept me young and brought me in touch with many wonderful students who have remained friends.

gands-mainbody-3‌“In many ways, this book is a tribute to the enthusiasm, energy, dedication and generosity of the students with whom I have shared my passion for G & S and who have been such fun to perform with. Deep in the annotations of this closely printed 1267 page volume, readers will find several allusions to personalities, production points and anecdotes from St Andrews productions over the years.”

The Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan by Ian Bradley is published by OUP (USA) in both hardback and paperback. 

Dr Bradley will officially launch the book with a lecture at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate on 15 August.

The University of St Andrews Gilbert and Sullivan Society will perform The Mikado from 15 to 20 August at Paradise in St Augustine’s, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews, contactable on 01334 462530 or email [email protected].

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