OP3070. PATIENCE [Complete, as recorded] (Gilbert & Sullivan), recorded 1921, w. Byng Cond. D'Oyly Carte Ensemble; Dawson, Baker, Ranalow, etc. VGS 201. Transfers by James C. Lockwood. Final copy!
“PATIENCE, or, Bunthorne's Bride, is a comic opera in two acts with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The opera is a satire on the aesthetic movement of the 1870s and '80s in England and, more broadly, on fads, superficiality, vanity, hypocrisy and pretentiousness; it also satirizes romantic love, rural simplicity and military bluster.
First performed at the Opera Comique, London, on 23 April 1881, PATIENCE moved to the 1,292-seat Savoy Theatre on 10 October 1881, where it was the first theatrical production in the world to be lit entirely by electric light. Henceforth, the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas would be known as the Savoy Operas, and both fans and performers of Gilbert and Sullivan would come to be known as ‘Savoyards’.
PATIENCE was the sixth operatic collaboration of fourteen between Gilbert and Sullivan. It ran for a total of 578 performances, which was seven more than the authors' earlier work, H.M.S. PINAFORE, and the second longest run of any work of musical theatre up to that time, after the operetta LES CLOCHES DE CORNEVILLE.
The opera is a satire on the aesthetic movement of the 1870s and '80s in England, part of the 19th-century European movement that emphasised aesthetic values over moral or social themes in literature, fine art, the decorative arts, and interior design. Called ‘Art for Art's Sake’, the movement valued its ideals of beauty above any pragmatic concerns. Although the output of poets, painters and designers was prolific, some argued that the movement's art, poetry and fashion was empty and self-indulgent. That the movement was so popular and also so easy to ridicule as a meaningless fad helped make PATIENCE a big hit. The same factors made a hit out of THE COLONEL, a play by F. C. Burnand based partly on the satiric cartoons of George du Maurier in PUNCH magazine. THE COLONEL beat PATIENCE to the stage by several weeks, but PATIENCE outran Burnand's play. According to Burnand's 1904 memoir, Sullivan's friend the composer Frederic Clay leaked to Burnand the information that Gilbert and Sullivan were working on an ‘æsthetic subject’, and so Burnand raced to produce THE COLONEL before PATIENCE opened.”
- Hans Lick