Gilbert and Sullivan Festival Small Group tour
- 1. View the collection and exhibits at the Royal Academy of Music
- 2. Explore Manchester, to understand the society that Gilbert and Sullivan wrote for.
- 3. Learn more about the extraordinary musical collaborators, W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.
- 4. Experience four unforgettable live Gilbert and Sullivan shows: HMS Pinafore, Trial by Jury, Mikado, and Pirates of Penzance
|07 August 2024 |
Ends 15 August 2024 • 9 days
|06 August 2025 |
Ends 14 August 2025 • 9 days
Gilbert and Sullivan small group tour
This 9-day tour explores the beguiling operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. The senior traveller with an interest in comic opera will delight in this immersion in the works of England’s most iconic opera duo combined with a unique travel experience.
Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated on fourteen comic operas, which were written between 1871 and 1896. Their most famous works are H.M.S. Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado, all of which showcase their characteristically eccentric humour and sumptuous musical numbers.
This small group tour gives participants a chance to learn much more about this fascinating operatic duo. During the tour we experience a number of live performances and hear from Gilbert and Sullivan experts. The educational tour also includes visits to several destinations like important museums, including the Black Country Living Museum, the Haymarket Theatre, and the Royal Academy of Music.
Itinerary & highlights of the Gilbert & Sullivan tour
One highlight is experiencing the wonders of the Harrogate Gilbert and Sullivan Festival. During this festival, we enjoy leading performing Gilbert & Sullivan societies who compete for the championship trophy. The society performances take place during the week, while the professional performances for National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company are staged each weekend. The tour promises to be an unforgettable introduction to the world of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Our specialised educational tour begins in Manchester, where we enjoy a walking tour of the city that revolves around its Victorian Era sights and attractions. It was in this era that the partnership of the librettist W.S. Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan begun. The tour includes entrance to the Town Hall, one of the most iconic landmarks in the city and one of the most important buildings in England. We then travel across to Harrogate for the festival, where we enjoy our first major evening performance.
On our second day in Harrogate, we take a day trip to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the charming ancient Roman city of York. Here, we take a walking tour of the city with a local guide. In the afternoon, we travel back to Harrogate to see another performance at the Royal Hall.
We travel on to London. While here, we visit the Royal Academy of Music, where Arthur Sullivan studied. Afterwards, we visit the museum , which covers the history of the Academy and has numerous artefacts bequeathed by Arthur Sullivan.
Later on, we visit the Savoy Theatre, the symbol of their artistic collaboration. While here, we learn how producer Richard D’Oyly Carte brought Gilbert and Sullivan together and nurtured their collaboration. He built the Savoy theatre to present their joint works which came to be known as the Savoy Operas, and founded the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which performed and promoted Gilbert and Sullivan's works for over a century.
Other highlights of this educational tour include visiting the Black Country Living Museum. Here, we view the collection and exhibits at the Royal Academy of Music. We also hear experts give insightful talks on the two composers, and explain their significance. Across the tour, we deepen our knowledge of and appreciation for these extraordinary musical collaborators. The pinnacle of this small group tour is the chance to experience four unforgettable live Gilbert and Sullivan shows: HMS Pinafore, Trial by Jury, Mikado, and Pirates of Penzance.
You can browse our profiles on Britain and England for more information where all our tour departures are listed as well. For more details on this tour, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
Day 1: Manchester
Accommodation: Novotel Manchester or similar
After checking into our hotel, we enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Day 2: Manchester
Accommodation: Novotel Manchester or similar
We begin the day start with a sightseeing tour of Manchester based on the Victorian Era, when the partnership of the librettist W.S. Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan started.
The tour includes visits too many of the central city monuments that reflect the Victorian philanthropy that make Manchester the place it is today. We visit the Town Hall which is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city and one of the most important buildings in England, though it is closed for restoration till some time in 2022.
Day 3: Manchester- Harrogate
Accommodation: The falling Swan or equivalent
Today we spend the whole day at the festival and start the day with talks and presentations from Gilbert and Sullivan experts. In the evening, we enjoy our first show at the Royal Hall – Pirates of Penzance, performed by National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company
Day 4: Harrogate
Accommodation: The falling Swan or equivalent
After breakfast, we travel to York by train for a sightseeing tour of the city with a local guide. In the afternoon, we travel to Harrogate to see the Yeoman of the guard at the Royal Hall.
Day 5: Harrogate
Accommodation: The falling Swan or equivalent
This morning we explore Harrogate with a local guide. Set in the heart of Yorkshire, the Harrogate District is one of the most spectacular areas of England with attractive towns and villages, imposing historic houses, castles, abbeys, beautiful countryside and a host of other natural attractions.
In the evening, we travel to the Royal Hall to see a performance of the Sorcerer
Day 6: Harrogate
Accommodation: Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel or similar
Today is a free day in Harrogate, you may wish to enjoy the Turkish baths or simple explore Harrogate or venture to Leeds.
In the evening we enjoy a performance by Bus pass opera, a collective group of over 60’s who deliver Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury & HMS Pinafore.
Day 7: London
Accommodation: London Lodge Kensington Hotel or similar
After breakfast, we travel to London, where Gilbert and Sullivan operated during the most important period of their career.
Start the day with a guided sightseeing tour of the most important places related to these two authors.
We also visit the Royal Academy of Music, where Arthur Sullivan studied. We visit the museum here, which covers the history of the Academy and has artifacts bequested by Arthur Sullivan.
We then visit the Savoy Theatre, the symbol of their artistic collaboration. Producer Richard D’Oyly Carte brought Gilbert and Sullivan together and nurtured their collaboration. He built the Savoy theatre to present their joint works which came to be known as the Savoy Operas, and founded the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, which performed and promoted Gilbert and Sullivan’s works for over a century.
Day 8: London
Accommodation: London Lodge Kensington Hotel or similar
Today we head to the Haymarket Theatre, where Gilbert created several “fairy comedies” in the early 1870s. We then visit the spectacular English National Opera.
Here, we hear recordings of excerpts from the Gilbert and Sullivan operas began to be released in 1906 and were supervised by Rupert D’Oyly Carte who, as mentioned before, made these two authors the most significant composers of the Victorian Era. After the copyrights on the operas expired, other professional companies were free to perform and record the operas. Many performing companies arose to produce the works, such as “ Gilbert and Sullivan For All” in Britain and existing companies, such as English National Opera and Australian Opera added Gilbert and Sullivan to their repertories. Gilbert and Sullivan operas were constantly played at the English National Opera.
After the visit you will be taken to Grim’s Dyke Hotel where Gilbert house was located. There are lot of Gilberterian memorabilia on site.
This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner and show in the West end of London’s theatre district.
Day 9: London
After breakfast, we say our farewells and the tour concludes.
- Performances for 2020 will be updated when the schedule is released by the festival. Information listed above is based on 2019 schedule.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 8 nights of accommodation.
- Meals as listed in the itinerary.
- Concerts as detailed in the itinerary.
- Transport and field trips as indicated.
- Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
- Gratuities and necessary tips.
- Services of an Odyssey Tour Leader.
- Detailed tour information booklet.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Return international airfares and departure taxes.
- Airport transfers.
- Comprehensive international travel insurance.
- Items of personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, moderate walking on uneven surfaces between 3 - 5 kilometers per day. Suitable for most fitness levels
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
Book With Confidence
If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
The Operas Of Gilbert And Sullivan
Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald, Arthur Sullivan
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.
This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.
As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.
Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Respectable Capers': Class, Respectability and the Savoy Operas 1877-1909
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.
The Complete Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan: 20th Anniversary Edition
Ian Bradley's Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan has established itself across the world as the authorized and definitive 'Bible' for all those interested in the Savoy operas. Originally published in two Penguin paperbacks in the 1980's, a single-volume comprehensive compendium, hailed widely as "easily the best annotated Gilbert & Sullivan available" (Gayden Wren, New York Times) was published by Oxford University Press in 1996. This brand new 20th anniversary edition includes Thespis, Gilbert and Sullivan's first collaboration which is now being increasingly performed, despite the loss of the vocal and orchestral scores. It also features a completely new introduction, reflecting on the state of Gilbert and Sullivan nearly 150 years after the pair began their legendary collaboration, and new annotations addressing recent performance history, newly discovered 'lost' songs and dialogue, and, for the first time, Gilbert and Sullivan references in contemporary popular culture. Scholars, performers, and fans are sure to rejoice in this indispensable companion to the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire, newly updated for the present day.
Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography
'A Gilbert is of no use without a Sullivan.' With these words, W.S. Gilbert summed up his reasons for persisting in his collaboration with Arthur Sullivan despite the combative nature of their relationship. In fact, Michael Ainger suggests in Gilbert and Sullivan the success of the pair's work is a direct result of their personality clash, as each partner challenged the other to produce his best work. After exhaustive research into the D'Oyly Carte collection of documents, Ainger offers the most detailed account to date of Gilbert and Sullivan's starkly different backgrounds and long working partnership. Having survived an impoverished and insecure childhood, Gilbert flourished as a financially successful theater professional, married happily and established himself as a property owner. His sense of proprietorship extended beyond real estate, and he fought tenaciously to protect the integrity of his musical works. Sullivan, the product of a supportive family who nourished his talent, was much less satisfied with stability than his collaborator. His creative self-doubts and self-demands led to nervous and physical breakdowns, but it also propelled the team to break the successful mode of their earliest work to produce more ambitious pieces of theater, including The Mikado and The Yeoman of the Guards . Offering previously-unpublished draft libretti and personal letters, this thorough double-biography will be an essential addition to the library of any Gilbert and Sullivan fan.
Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan: His Life and Character
The author of The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore and the other great Savoy libretti, W S Gilbert, witty, caustic and disrespectful, was one of the celebrities of the late Victorian age. In his time he had been many things: journalist, theatre critic, cartoonist, comic poet, stage director, writer of short stories, dramatist. A political satire he wrote was banned by the Lord Chamberlain at the personal insistence of the Prince of Wales. He wrote the most brilliantly inventive plays of his time. With Arthur Sullivan he wrote comic operas that defined the age. He became richer and more famous than he could have imagined, but at the price of his artistic freedom. This is the story of an angry and quarrelsome man, discontented with himself and the age he lived in, raging at life’s absurdities and laughing at them. In this book his glorious, contradictory character is explored and brought vividly to life.
Gilbert and Sullivan: Gender, Genre, Parody
Long before the satirical comedy of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, the comic operas of W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were the hottest send-ups of the day's political and cultural obsessions. Gilbert and Sullivan's productions always rose to the level of social commentary, despite being impertinent, absurd, or inane. Some viewers may take them straight, but what looks like sexism or stereotype was actually a clever strategy of critique. Parody was a powerful weapon in the culture wars of late-nineteenth-century England, and with defiantly in-your-face sophistication, Gilbert and Sullivan proved that popular culture can be intellectually as well as politically challenging.Carolyn Williams underscores Gilbert and Sullivan's creative and acute understanding of cultural formations. Her unique perspective shows how anxiety drives the troubled mind in the Lord Chancellor's 'Nightmare Song' in Iolanthe and is vividly realized in the sexual and economic phrasing of the song's patter lyrics. The modern body appears automated and performative in the 'Junction Song' in Thespis, anticipating Charlie Chaplin's factory worker in Modern Times. Williams also illuminates the use of magic in The Sorcerer, the parody of nautical melodrama in H.M.S. Pinafore, the ridicule of Victorian aesthetic and idyllic poetry in Patience, the autoethnography of The Mikado, the role of gender in Trial by Jury, and the theme of illegitimacy in The Pirates of Penzance. With her provocative reinterpretation of these artists and their work, Williams recasts our understanding of creativity in the late nineteenth century.
Articles for Gilbert and Sullivan
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