In the late 19th Century, the duo of Gilbert and Sullivan wrote several operas that are as popular today as they were when they were written and performed. Gilbert and Sullivan operas have been produced on stages throughout the world as well as a favorite for televised and motion picture operas. W.S. Gilbert was the word/story guy of the partnership while Arthur Sullivan was the composer of the duo. Together they were a memorable theatrical team.

William S. Gilbert

Gilbert was born on November 18, 1836, in London, England. While in his early 20’s Gilbert started to write and illustrate stories. During these short stories and poems, Gilbert started to develop his unique style of writing of setting up unbelievable situations that come to logical conclusions. He eventually moved into writing and producing several comic operas that were a logical progression to his work with Sullivan.

Arthur Sullivan

Sullivan was also born in London, England on May 13, 1842. As a son of a bandmaster, by the time he was 8, Sullivan was adept at playing nearly all band instruments. While he was attending school, Sullivan began to compose his own music. His love and dedication to the art of music led to his acceptance in the Royal Academy of Music. Sullivan began writing operas that were very well received and he earned the reputation of being the brightest young composer in Britain.


In 1871, a mutual friend brought the two together and as a result, they were responsible for 14 operas including notable operas such as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and The Gondoliers. These operas were all comedy operas, with interesting storylines, vibrant costumes, imaginative staging and memorable music.
As a result, the two along with a friend established the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and Savoy Theatre in London. The collaborations resulted in the creation of outstanding operas that set the stage for operas in the future.

G & S Resources