Sullivan’s Original Orchestrations

This page is best viewed on a large screen to embrace the full extent of Sullivan’s selections

Opera Lead Violin 1st Violin 2nd Violin Viola Cello Bass Flute Piccolo Bassoon Horn F Trumpet A&Bb Trombone Percussion inc Timpani(2)
No of Instruments 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 2 2 2 3 1+1 or more
Cox & Box 1 7 6 4 4 2 1 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
Trial By Jury 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
The Sorcerer 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
HMS Pinafore 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
The Pirates of Penzance 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
Patience 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 1 2 1+1 or more
Iolanthe 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
Princess Ida 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
The Mikado 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
Ruddigore 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
The Yeomen of the Guard 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 2 2 2 3 1+1 or more
The Gondoliers 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 2 2 2 3 1+1 or more
Utopia, Limited 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 2 2 2 3 1+1 or more
The Grand Duke 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 2 2 2 3 1+1 or more
The Contrabandista 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more
Rose of Persia 1 7 6 4 4 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1+1 or more

Sullivan’s Orchestra

This comprised 37 to 39 musicians. The wind, brass and percussion listed above plus strings deployed as shown in the table.

A good sound can be achieved with 6 first and 4 second violins, 2 violas, 2 celli, and 1 bass, however no less than 3, 2, 1, 1, 1 should be employed unless adding a piano. This will completely alter Sullivan’s sound and give the orchestral tone a rather homogenous atmosphere.

If unable to meet the requirements of the full orchestra, drop instruments in teh following order: 3rd trombone, 2nd flute, 2nd trombone, 2nd trumpet, 1st trombone. This is a fairly general order, and of course local considerations and personal taste will influence your final choice.

Sullivan’s horn writing is very important and constant, and the instruments listed should be dropped before either horn. Normally the Brass are used to reinforcethe tuttis and rarely provide essential line. There are exceptions, however, where the 3rd trombone in Yeomen is remarkably effective, the solo trumpet in Patience is important, and in the last four operas the 2nd bassoon is almost as important as the 2nd horn.

Anomalies

Broadly speaking the operas have come down to us without many changes. There are however, some anomalies which can confuse those unfamiliar with the repertoire.

Cox & Box: minor cuts and extensions in the orchestral parts which are at odds with the vocal score

Ruddigore: When the opera was revived in teh 1930s several cuts were made and Geoffrey Toye wrote the superb overture now in use. This is published in the vocal score. The only important cut which is carried into the vocal score is the re-made finale of Act Two. The original is available from Pit Parts if required, together with Robin’s Act Two solo “Away Remorse”.

The Gondoliers: Sir Malcolm Sargent added the cachuca to the overture in the 1930s, giving zest to what is generally regarded as the least effective of the Savoy preludes. Sullivan’s original idea, on the other hand, of going straight fronm the quiet gavotte ending into the splendid blaze of the opening chorus is very effective. The choice is yours.

Utopia Limited: Unlike The Grand Duke, this opera has recently enjoyed, and sustained, a new lease oflife. If there ever was an overture, it has been lost andthe ad hoc collection of ceremonial music from the opera is not, by common consent, particularly effective in its place. In the early 1970s Geoffrey Townshend wrote a rather fine overture which has been used on many occasions with great success. An audition tape is available from Pit Parts, as is the score and parts. There are many other cutsin the score that a producing company should be aware of before rehearsals begin.

The Grand Duke: Consult with Pit Parts prior to production, as the parts are at considerable variance from the vocal score.

Trial By Jury, The Sorcerer, Yeomen of The Guard and Princess Ida all have minor cuts. These are available on request.


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