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Artist: John Hassall, English (1868 - 1948)

Item: RP.21

Title: The Gondoliers
Description: Condition A-
Original vintage poster, backed on Linen
Printed by David Allen & Sons, London 1893
Shipped rolled
Terms of Sale
Size: 31 1/2 in x 48 1/2 in
  80 x 123 cm
Price: Sold

"The Gondoliers, was produced at the Savoy Theatre on Saturday, 7 December, 1889, and is doubly famous among the operas; in the first place for possessing perhaps the most sparkling and tuneful music of them all, and secondly for being the last opera to be produced before the lamentable and unnecessary quarrel between the great triumvirate—Gilbert, Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte.

The story of 'The Gondoliers', which satirizes snobbery in all grades of society, follows Gilbert's favourite theme of topsy-turvydom. "I am told", said he, "that the public like the topsy-turvy best, so this time they are going to get it".

One of two just-married gondoliers is the King of Barataria, but no one knows which one. As Barataria needs a king to put down unrest in the country, they travel there to reign jointly, leaving their wives behind.

After the first brilliant performance Gilbert wrote his appreciation to Sullivan—"I must thank you again," said he, "for the magnificent work you have put into this piece. It gives one a chance of shining right through the Twentieth Century with a reflected light"

The Gondoliers" ran for 554 consecutive performances and was honoured by a Command Performance before Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle in March, 1891. Unfortunately, while to the outside world all seemed to be running smoothly, a storm in a teacup was brewing. D'Oyly Carte, as Manager, had purchased a new carpet for the front of the house, the cost, among other items, being charged to the joint account. Gilbert considered the expenditure of £140 gross extravagance but Sullivan, on being consulted, raised no objection and sided with Carte; whereupon Gilbert went to law against Carte and Sullivan—and lost the case. As the operas probably reached their zenith with the production of "The Gondoliers", which for sparkle, buoyancy and sheer delight in absurdity surpasses them all, it is the more to be regretted that their quarrel should have taken place at such a time." (Gilbert & Sullivan Archive)

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