Don’t Drink the Tea! Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Sorcerer”
Before this work, Gilbert and Sullivan had collaborated on the brief Trial by Jury, a considerable success, and on Thespis, a failure for which the music is now lost. The Sorcerer is thus their earliest surviving, full-length work as a team.
The Sorcerer opened at the Opera Comique on November 17, 1877. Richard D’Oyly Carte had commissioned the work, beginning the long relationship that was to make all three men rich and famous. That first run was successful, and Gilbert shortly sent to Sullivan the sketches for their next work, which was to be Pinafore.
It is interesting to speculate on Pinafore’s huge and enduring success and to contrast it with The Sorcerer’s more obscure position. The Sorcerer was revived several times during the lifetime of its authors, often paired with Trial by Jury to pad out the evening to Victorian fullness. Carte could count on this double bill to keep the coffers full until another work was ready. The Victorians always savored its treatment of the central preoccupations of their culture: hereditary and marital roles, and the rigidities of class distinctions.
These concerns run through all of the G&S work, but it is possible that they need to be packaged in the more exotic or foolish plots of pieces like Pinafore or The Mikado to appeal strongly to modern, especially non-British audiences. There is also the possibility that Sullivan’s music for The Sorcerer is somewhat “classical” for popular tastes today.
Or perhaps The Sorcerer simply needs to be heard more often.
Friday, March 11 at 8 PM
Saturday, March 12 at 8 PM
Sunday, March 13 at 2 PM
$20 tickets at the door; $5 students with ID