Savoy Theatre, Strand, London
The Gondoliers was the eleventh in the series of comic operas, and opened at the Savoy on 7th December 1889. It was described as the ‘second Mikado’ and received more adulation in the press than possibly any of the other operas. The opening night was a glittering social affair.
An interval of 43 minutes enabled the audience to observe Lord Londesborough, Lady Randolph Churchill, Lord Dunraven and Mr. Alfred Rothschild amongst others present.
The audience reaction was no less pleasing. Encores were called for after many of the numbers and at one stage the cast, unsure of where to start, were encouraged by the gallery to ‘sing all of it’. Never before had Gilbert and Sullivan received such unanimous and unconditional praise. The critics waxed lyrically over the libretto, drooled over the costumes by Mr. Percy Anderson and the exquisite sets by Hawes Craven and rhapsodized over Sullivan’s music. ‘A verdict of emphatic and unanimous approval’ crowed the Sunday Times. The Gondoliers proved to be as popular with royalty as with the general public. The Prince of Wales saw it at least four times after postponing his visit not just once, but twice, when he learned that Miss Ulmar, the American who played Gianetta, was off ill. Queen Victoria also requested a private performance, which was given at Windsor Castle.
The Gondoliers ran at the Savoy until 20th June 1891.