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Please help improve it by replacing them with more appropriate citations to reliable, independent, third-party sources. The title of the piece comically applies the name of a garment for girls and women, a pinafore , to the fearsome symbol of a warship. Pinafore' s extraordinary popularity in Britain, America and elsewhere was followed by the similar success of a series of Gilbert and Sullivan works, including The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.
Their works, later known as the Savoy operas , dominated the musical stage on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a decade and continue to be performed today.
The structure and style of these operas, particularly Pinafore , were much copied and contributed significantly to the development of modern musical theatre. Instead of writing a piece for production by a theatre proprietor, as was usual in Victorian theatres, Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte produced the show with their own financial support. They were therefore able to choose their own cast of performers, rather than being obliged to use the actors already engaged at the theatre.
They chose talented actors, most of whom were not well-known stars and did not command high fees, and to whom they could teach a more naturalistic style of performance than was commonly used at the time. They then tailored their work to the particular abilities of these performers.
For until then no living soul had seen upon the stage such weird, eccentric, yet intensely human beings. The success of The Sorcerer paved the way for another collaboration by Gilbert and Sullivan. Pinafore before the end of Dick Deadeye is based on a character in "Woman's Gratitude" ; an early version of Ralph Rackstraw can be seen in "Joe Go-Lightly" , with its sailor madly in love with the daughter of someone who far outranks him; and Little Buttercup is taken almost wholesale from "The Bumboat Woman's Story" I have very little doubt whatever but that you will be pleased with it.
Among other things a song a kind of ' Judge's Song ' for the First Lord — tracing his career as office-boy Of course there will be no personality in this — the fact that the First Lord in the Opera is a Radical of the most pronounced type will do away with any suspicion that W. Smith, a politician who had recently been appointed First Lord of the Admiralty despite having neither military nor nautical experience. Following the example of his mentor, T.
Robertson , Gilbert strove to ensure that the costumes and sets were as realistic as possible. Pinafore , Gilbert and Sullivan visited Portsmouth in April to inspect ships. Gilbert made sketches of H. St Vincent and created a model set for the carpenters to work from. In Pinafore , Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte used several of the principal cast members whom they had assembled for The Sorcerer.
As Gilbert had suggested to Sullivan in December , "Mrs. Cripps [Little Buttercup] will be a capital part for Everard Barrington will be a capital captain, and Grossmith a first-rate First Lord. She was under contract to play the role of Cousin Hebe in Pinafore.
Gilbert made an effort to write an amusing part for her despite Sullivan's reluctance to use her, but by mid-May , both Gilbert and Sullivan wanted her out of the cast; unhappy with the role, she left. With only a week to go before opening night, Carte hired a concert singer, Jessie Bond , to play Cousin Hebe.
Gilbert acted as stage director for his own plays and operas. He sought realism in acting, just as he strove for realistic visual elements. He deprecated self-conscious interaction with the audience and insisted on a style of portrayal in which the characters were never aware of their own absurdity but were coherent internal wholes.
As was to be his usual practice in his later operas, Sullivan left the overture for the last moment, sketching it out and entrusting it to the company's music director, in this case Alfred Cellier , to complete. The British warship H. Pinafore is at anchor off Portsmouth. The sailors are on the quarterdeck , proudly "cleaning brasswork, splicing rope, etc.
Little Buttercup, a Portsmouth " bumboat woman" dockside vendor — who is the "rosiest, roundest, and reddest beauty in all Spithead " — comes on board to sell her wares to the crew.
She hints that she may be hiding a dark secret under her "gay and frivolous exterior". Ralph Rackstraw,  "the smartest lad in all the fleet", enters, declaring his love for the Captain's daughter, Josephine. His fellow sailors excepting Dick Deadeye, the grim and ugly realist of the crew offer their sympathies, but they can give Ralph little hope that his love will ever be returned.
The gentlemanly and popular Captain Corcoran greets his "gallant crew" and compliments them on their politeness, saying that he returns the favour by never "well, hardly ever" using bad language, such as "a big, big D". Buttercup says that she knows how it feels to love in vain. As she leaves, the Captain remarks that she is "a plump and pleasing person". Josephine enters and reveals to her father that she loves a humble sailor in his crew, but she assures him that she is a dutiful daughter and will never reveal her love to this sailor.
Sir Joseph comes on board, accompanied by his "admiring crowd of sisters, cousins and aunts". He recounts how he rose from humble beginnings to be "ruler of the Queen's Navee" through persistence, although he has no naval qualifications. He then delivers a humiliating lesson in etiquette, telling the Captain that he must always say "if you please" after giving an order; for "A British sailor is any man's equal" — excepting Sir Joseph's.
Sir Joseph has composed a song to illustrate that point, and he gives a copy of it to Ralph. Shortly afterwards, elated by Sir Joseph's views on equality, Ralph decides that he will declare his love to Josephine. This delights his shipmates, except Dick Deadeye, who contends that "when people have to obey other people's orders, equality's out of the question".
Shocked by his words, the other sailors force Dick to listen to Sir Joseph's song before they exit, leaving Ralph alone on deck.
Josephine now enters, and Ralph confesses his love in terms surprisingly eloquent for a "common sailor". Josephine is touched, but although she has found Sir Joseph's attentions nauseating, she knows that it is her duty to marry Sir Joseph instead of Ralph. Disguising her true feelings, she "haughtily rejects" Ralph's "proffered love".
Ralph summons his shipmates Sir Joseph's female relatives also arrive and tells them that he is bent on suicide. The crew expresses sympathy, except for Dick, who provides a stark counterpoint of dissent. Ralph puts a pistol to his head, but as he is about to pull the trigger, Josephine enters, admitting that she loves him after all. Ralph and Josephine plan to sneak ashore to elope that night. Dick Deadeye warns them to "forbear, nor carry out the scheme", but the joyous ship's company ignores him.
Later that night, under a full moon, Captain Corcoran reviews his concerns: Little Buttercup offers sympathy.
He tells her that, if it were not for the difference in their social standing, he would have returned her affection. She prophesies that things are not all as they seem and that "a change" is in store for him, but he does not understand her cryptic warning. Sir Joseph enters and complains that Josephine has not yet agreed to marry him.
The Captain speculates that she is probably dazzled by his "exalted rank" and that if Sir Joseph can persuade her that "love levels all ranks", she will accept his proposal. They withdraw, and Josephine enters, still feeling guilty about her planned elopement with Ralph and fearful of giving up a life of luxury.
When Sir Joseph makes the argument that "love levels all ranks", a delighted Josephine says that she "will hesitate no longer". Dick Deadeye intercepts the Captain and tells him of the lovers' plans to elope. The Captain confronts Ralph and Josephine as they try to leave the ship.
The pair declare their love, justifying their actions because "He is an Englishman! When Sir Joseph asks what had provoked the usually polite officer's outburst, Ralph replies that it was his declaration of love for Josephine. Furious in his turn at this revelation, and ignoring Josephine's plea to spare Ralph, Sir Joseph has the sailor "loaded with chains" and taken to the ship's brig. Little Buttercup now comes forward to reveal her long-held secret.
Many years ago, when she "practised baby-farming ", she had cared for two babies, one "of low condition", the other "a regular patrician ". She confesses that she "mixed those children up. The wellborn babe was Ralph; your Captain was the other. Sir Joseph now realises that Ralph should have been the Captain, and the Captain should have been Ralph.
He summons both, and they emerge wearing each other's uniforms: Ralph as Captain, in command of the Pinafore , and Corcoran as a common sailor. Sir Joseph's marriage with Josephine is now "out of the question" in his eyes: The former Captain's now-humble social rank leaves him free to marry Buttercup. Sir Joseph settles for his cousin Hebe, and all ends in general rejoicing.
Pinafore opened on 25 May at the Opera Comique , before an enthusiastic audience, with Sullivan conducting. In late August , Sullivan used some of the Pinafore music, arranged by his assistant Hamilton Clarke , during several successful promenade concerts at Covent Garden that generated interest and stimulated ticket sales.
Carte, Gilbert and Sullivan now had the financial resources to produce shows themselves, without outside backers. Carte persuaded the author and composer that a business partnership among the three would be to their advantage, and they hatched a plan to separate themselves from the directors of the Comedy Opera Company.
The contract between Gilbert and Sullivan and the Comedy Opera Company gave the latter the right to present Pinafore for the duration of the initial run. The Opera Comique was obliged to close for drain and sewer repairs, and it was renovated by E. Bradwell, from Christmas to the end of January Carte put the matter beyond doubt by taking a six-month personal lease of the theatre beginning on 1 February , the date of its re-opening, when Pinafore resumed.
At the end of the six months, Carte planned to give notice to the Comedy Opera Company that its rights in the show and the theatre had ended. Meanwhile, numerous versions of Pinafore , unauthorised by its creators, began playing in America with great success, beginning with a production in Boston that opened on 25 November In February , Pinafore resumed operations at the Opera Comique.
Penley in the role. Hoping to join in on the profits to be made in America from Pinafore , Carte left in June for New York to make arrangements for an "authentic" production there to be rehearsed personally by the author and composer.
He arranged to rent a theatre and auditioned chorus members for the American production of Pinafore and a new Gilbert and Sullivan opera to be premiered in New York, and for tours. Sullivan, as had been arranged with Carte and Gilbert, gave notice to the partners of the Comedy Opera Company in early July that he, Gilbert and Carte would not be renewing the contract to produce Pinafore with them and that he would be withdrawing his music from the Comedy Opera Company on 31 July.
They offered the London and touring casts of Pinafore more money to play in their production, and although some choristers accepted their offer, only one principal player, Aeneas Joseph Dymott, accepted. On 31 July, they sent a group of thugs to seize the scenery and props during Act II of the evening performance at the Opera Comique. The cast went on with the show until someone shouted "Fire! The police arrived to restore order, and the show continued.
Pauline Rita was one of a series of Josephines. After his return to London, Carte formed a new partnership with Gilbert and Sullivan to divide profits equally after the expenses of each of their shows.
Gilbert and Sullivan called them "pirated", although the creators did not have any international copyright protection. Boston alone saw at least a dozen productions, including a juvenile version described by Louisa May Alcott in her story, "Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore". These unauthorised performances took many forms, including burlesques , productions with men playing women's roles and vice versa, spoofs, variety acts, Minstrel show versions,  all-black and Catholic productions, German, Yiddish and other foreign-language versions,  performances on boats or by church choirs,  and productions starring casts of children.
They made a special effort to claim American rights for their next work after Pinafore , The Pirates of Penzance , by giving the official premiere in New York. Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte met by 24 April to make plans for a production of Pinafore in America. Ford [n 7] to present, at the Fifth Avenue Theatre , the first authorised American production of Pinafore.
Pinafore opened in New York on 1 December with Gilbert onstage in the chorus and ran for the rest of December. After a reasonably strong first week, audiences quickly fell off, since most New Yorkers had already seen local productions of Pinafore. The unauthorised juvenile productions of Pinafore were so popular that Carte mounted his own children's version, played at matinees at the Opera Comique beginning on 16 December Carte's children's production earned enthusiastic reviews from the critic Clement Scott  and the other London critics, as well as the audiences, including children.
He said, Damn me! Gilbert could have stooped to write, or Sir Arthur Sullivan could have prostituted his noble art to set to music, such vile trash, it passes my skill to understand". After the opera became successful in London, Richard D'Oyly Carte quickly sent touring companies into the British provinces. At least one D'Oyly Carte company, and sometimes as many as three, played Pinafore under Carte's aegis every year between and , including its first London revival in The opera was then given a rest, returning to the touring repertory between and and again for most of the time between and It continued to hew closely to Gilbert's directions throughout that period, as recorded in Gilbert's prompt books, and it also required its licensees to follow them closely.
Until , revivals of the opera were given in contemporary dress, with ladies' costumes executed by couture houses such as Redfern. The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company did not allow any other professional company to present the Savoy operas in Britain until the copyrights expired at the end of , although it licensed many amateur and school societies to do so, beginning in the 19th century.
The extraordinary initial success of Pinafore in America was seen first-hand by J. Thereafter, his opera company played frequent seasons of the work and the subsequent Savoy operas until at least
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