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Arts / Entertainment

Opera: 'The Gondoliers' by Gilbert and Sullivan

March 9, 2011

W.S. Gilbert, a librettist, (writer of the words for dramatic musicals) and Arthur Sullivan, a composer, collaborated on many musicals, but the comic opera, 'The Gondoliers,' was their most successful. See this 'brilliant and timeless comedy' performed by Colorado State's Opera Theatre and Opera Orchestra, March 4-11.

Gilbert and Sullivan differed on whether or not they should collaborate on a 'grand opera'  such as <em>The Gondoliers</em>. The work turned out to be their most popular, with an original run of 554 performances. Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers is being presented by CSU Opera Theatre, and the CSU Opera Orchestra. Free tickets are available through the CSU Committment to Campus Program (one complimentary pair of tickets per employee per school year).  

The production takes place in Griffin Concert Hall in the University Center for the Arts at 1400 Remington Street.  Performance dates are:

  • Friday, March 4, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 6, 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 10, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, March 11, 7:30 p.m.

Gilbert and Sullivan's 'star' opera

The Gondoliers, also known as The King of Barataria, is Gilbert and Sullivan’s most successful of fourteen opera collaborations. With two handsome gondoliers and 24 prospective brides, you’d expect a problem, or two.

Wisely, Giuseppe and Marco “Let impartial fate/select for us a mate!” A splendid plan, but complications ensue when a royal mystery arises. One of them is believed to be the King of Barataria, who was wed in infancy to the daughter of a duke. The gondoliers rule the palace in tandem until all is happily resolved with typical Gilbertian ingenuity.

Operatic comedy had an original 554 performances

Following last fall’s production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, The Gondoliers continues Colorado State Opera Theatre’s season of comedy. This was Gilbert and Sullivan’s last great success with an original run of 554 performances. Gilbert and Sullivan productions have enduring appeal for modern audiences with high school, college and professional productions alike.

Story images courtesy of Colorado State University's College of Liberal Arts.

Vocals go beyond most modern musical theatre

“Some call Gilbert and Sullivan musical theatre, while others insist that it is classical music,” said Gregory Brookes, CSU Opera Theatre director. “It certainly places a vocal demand on the singers that surpasses most modern musical theatre, yet reaches an audience that might otherwise be inclined to avoid opera.”

The production is sung in English, which contributes to its accessibility. “I think its popularity is due to the brilliant and timeless comedy that is infused in all of the great Gilbert and Sullivan shows.”


  • $10/CSU students
  • $1/youth (2–17)
  • $20/adult

Purchase tickets.

Student profiles

CSU student Chazzi Munyanya recently won the annual CSU Singer of the Year award. The junior vocal performance major has been involved in eight operas with CSU and Opera Fort Collins including the role of Tisbe in Cenerentola by Rossini, Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus by Strauss, and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart.

She is currently playing the role of Tessa in The Gondoliers. Read more.

Rebekah Gray is a CSU graduate student pursuing a Master of Music degree; Gray received her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from CSU as well.

The role of Casilda is her fourth lead in a Colorado State University Opera Theatre production, and other performances include Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Kim MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie, Annina in La Traviata, Adele in Die Fledermaus, the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Clorinda in La Cenerentola, Mrs. Fiorentino in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Nanetta in Falstaff, and Musetta in scenes from La Bohème. She will also play Despina in Cosi fan tutte with Opera Orvieto this summer in Orvieto, Italy. Read more.

Contact: Jennifer Clary
Phone: (970) 491-3603