Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Respectable Capers'

Class, Respectability and the Savoy Operas 1877–1909

  • Michael Goron

Part of the Palgrave Studies in British Musical Theatre book series (PSBMT)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Michael Goron
    Pages 1-15
  3. Michael Goron
    Pages 73-106
  4. Michael Goron
    Pages 107-139
  5. Michael Goron
    Pages 223-230
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 231-249

About this book


This innovative account of the Gilbert and Sullivan partnership provides a unique insight into the experience of both attending and performing in the original productions of the most influential and enduring pieces of English-language musical theatre.

In the 1870s, Savoy impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte astutely realized that a conscious move to respectability in a West End which, until then, had favored the racy delights of burlesque and French operetta, would attract a new, lucrative morally ‘decent’ audience.

This book examines the commercial, material and human factors underlying the Victorian productions of the Savoy operas. Unusually for a book on ‘G&S’, it focuses on people and things rather than author biography or literary criticism. Examining theatre architecture, interior design, marketing, and typical audiences, as well as the working conditions and personal lives of the members of a Victorian theatre-company, ‘Respectable Capers’ explains how the Gilbert and Sullivan operas helped to transform the West End into the family-friendly ‘theatre land’ which still exists today.


G&S west-end Victorian opera Victorian era theatre-going historiography British history social history women in opera d'oyly carte British musicals culture opera The Mikado HMS Pinafore

Authors and affiliations

  • Michael Goron
    • 1
  1. 1.Southampton Solent UniversitySouthamptonUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information