A Most Ingenious Paradox : The Art of Gilbert and Sullivan
Written more than a century ago and initially regarded even by their creators as nothing more than light entertainment, the fourteen operas of Gilbert & Sullivan emerged over the course of the twentieth century as the world's most popular body of musical-theater works, ranking second only to Shakespeare in the history of English-language theater. Despite this resounding popularity and proven longevity, most books written about the duo have focused on the authors rather than the works. With this detailed examination of all fourteen operas, Gayden Wren fills the void. His bold thesis finds the key to the operas' longevity, not in the clever lyrics, witty dialogue, or catchy music, but in the central themes underlying the characters and stories themselves. Like Shakespeare's comedies, Wren shows, the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan endure because of their timeless themes, which speak to audiences as powerfully now as they did the first time they were performed. Written out of an abiding love for the Savoy operas, this volume is essential reading for any devotee of these enchanting works, or indeed for anyone who loves musical theater.
- Paperback | 416 pages
- 152.4 x 228.6 x 33mm | 544.32g
- 02 Mar 2006
- Oxford University Press
- Oxford, United Kingdom
- 24 halftones, 23 music examples, 1 line illus.
Table of contents
Introduction ; 1. Gilbert before Sullivan ; 2. Sullivan before Gilbert ; 3. Thespis ; 4. Trial by Jury ; 5. The Sorcerer ; 6. H.M.S. Pinafore ; 7. The Pirates of Penzance ; 8. Patience ; 9. Iolanthe ; 10. Princess Ida ; 11. The Mikado ; 12. Ruddigore ; 13. The Yeomen of the Guard ; 14. The Gondoliers ; 15. Utopia, Limited ; 16. The Grand Duke ; 17. Gilbert after Sullivan, Sullivan after Gilbert ; 18. Legacy ; Appendix A: The Story of the Savoy Operas ; Appendix B: Revisions to Ruddigore ; Notes ; Bibliography ; Index
"There are a multitude of books about Gilbert and Sullivan...many of them, as [Wren] duly notes, are sketchy or superficial. But no one could fairly throw these adjectives at A Most Ingenious Paradox itself. Mr. Wren argues his case in impressive detail."-The Wall Street Journal
"Gayden Wren's book is a worthwhile and long overdue attempt to get to the heart of the Savoy operas. It is thoughtful on many aspects of both words and music."Music and Letters "A fascinating study for anyone interested in the delightful works of Gilbert & Sullivan as well as the contemporary American musical theatre..."-Recommended Books "A Most Ingenious Paradox will take its place as an important study of Gilbert & Sullivan as the worlds of music, theater, and scholarship continue (sometimes reluctantly) to evaluate and then acknowledge the Savoy Operas to be the classic works they are."-Ralph MacPhail, Jr., Bridgewater College of Virginia "Thoughtful analyses of each of the Savoy operas....a book worth adding to your library."-G&S Bag "Wren's analyses of The Mikado and The Gondoliers are models of their kind...Sometimes brilliant, occasionally maddening, Wren is almost unfailingly provocative."-Gramophone "Wren is a gifted writer and gives his honest views with confidence, providing clear style of presentation, clarity of description and much to get one thinking."-Classical Music Web "Wren is an excellent professor of G&S literature and makes an impressive number of points that will absorb (and sometimes annoy) advanced Savoyards."-Opera News "Essential to a full understanding and appreciation of the Gilbert & Sullivan operas...I kept nodding and thinking about most of his conclusions with 'Of course, I should have realized that years ago." - - Brattleboro Reformer "Wren's lengthy and intimate acquaintance with the works as performer, director and teacher allows him to write with affection in an uncluttered style that will please both the general reader and the scholar...Highly recommended." - -Library Journal "Wren's book is both a fascinating read and a valuable resource."-American Theatre "Wren explores...with authority and brilliance"-Tim Page, The Washington Post "There are a multitude of books about Gilbert and Sullivan...many of them, as [Wren] duly notes, are sketchy or superficial. But no one could fairly throw these adjectives at A Most Ingenious Paradox itself. Mr. Wren argues his case in impressive detail."-The Wall Street Journal
About Gayden Wren
Gayden Wren is the entertainment editor for The New York Times Syndicate and artistic director of the New Punctuation Army, Inc. He is also a playwright whose produced works include A Gilbert & Sullivan Christmas Carol (1994) and Very Truly Yours, Gilbert & Sullivan (1997).