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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 16 November 2001
This is the single most important book in the library of a Gilbert and Sullivan lover. It contains the entire text of the 14 Savoy operas as now generally performed on the right hand page whilst on the left hand page Ian Bradley has noted explanations of words and phrases and also includes the words of many songs and sections of libretto that were cut from the repertoire by Gilbert. The book is well researched and full of useful information.
No Gilbert & Sullivan fan should be without it.
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on 18 February 2001
This book brings together Bradleys two previous sets of annotated notes and adds the details for Utopia Limited and The Grand Duke. Anyone who has an interest in the Savoy Operas will appreciate this book as it gives a great insight into some of the language and phrases in the libretto. It also gives a lot of useful background into the thirteen operettas and has regular references to Thespis, the lost show. As a regular performer and director of G& S shows I use this book constantly to answer questions and to understand the reason why they are as they are.
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on 22 February 2003
Ian Bradley at his best, accurately researched, beautifully written and excitedly well executed. I cannot think of a more suitable author for such a mammoth task. In this ode to all things Gilbert and Sullivan, Ian Bradley shines. What a vast wealth of anecdotes, parodies and previously unknown information; beautiful edited by the well-known and much loved Gilbert and Sullivan expert Ian Bradley. With his wit, knowledge and passion for the subject Bradley takes us through every comic operetta ever to be created by the famous pair.
A full, completed picture of Victorian Musical theatre. A must buy for any G&S fan, young or old. Ideal as a gift -true value for money!
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on 22 March 2009
What a wonderfully outrageous and essential book this is. Gilbert and Sullivan have faded somewhat from the public eye in recent years, so this book containing the complete text from all their operettas is a reminder of the extraordinary wit, humour and lemon-sharp satire G&S produced. The book also contains brief histories of each production, and annotates changes made during the course of the original performances. Although some of the finer detail may, at times, seem a tad obscure, it is presented in a clear, thorough and humorous way. It is certainly never dull or tiresome, and it's a refreshing reminder that many of those who were once in the public eye achieved their fame by actually having a talent or two.

The book is a table-cracking 1,197 pages in length, so it isn't likely you'll be carrying it around with you too regularly. But what a splendid way to while away a Sunday afternoon. You might even be tempted to open the windows and sing a line or two, just like any sensible modern major general might.
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on 9 July 2009
As a latecomer to the delights of G&S, this book is perfect. Excellent notes on the works accompany thorough, easily readable lyrics - which add enormously to the enjoyment of G&S CDs
The downside? - it's neither small nor light!
Good value; recommended
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on 20 March 2014
What can I say! I bought two of these, one for myself years back and recently another for a friend.

You have all the words here, with copious footnotes and asides relating to Savoy Opera as she is performed (and long may she be performed!) as she was performed and as relating to both the composers and lyricists first second and third thoughts.

When you open this book be prepared for a marathon stint because it keeps pulling you in.

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on 29 October 2014
Authoritative, witty and true to the G & S tradition. A book I had often thought of buying but after I had looked at the copy owned by a friend I knew it was a "must have". I am not disappointed - it is brilliant!
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on 23 November 2013
Very interesting and informative. It explains many of the references to which Gilbert's words refer, together with something of the background of the stories, words and so forth.

I would be loathe to say that it is indispensible but it is certainly useful.
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on 9 November 2013
This book is packed with fascinating information about the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas as well as providing all the libretti too. We saw this book at a friend's house and were so interested that we immediately sourced our own copy.
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on 2 September 2011
Certain G&S diehards refer to this book as their "bible" - and, on first sight, its imposing appearance does promise to deliver on the forthright claim of its title. But beware. This book is not the complete G&S, for there is no "Sullivan" (the one who wrote the music) in it. Though that's only to be expected, here's the thing - if this book was called "The Complete Annotated Gilbert" it would still fall short, for although the pair wrote fourteen pieces together, this book omits the first, apparently because most of Sullivan's original music is lost and the work - Thespis - is no longer performed in its nascent 1871 guise. But, since Gilbert's libretto is not lost, and since this book is in fact an annotated collection of all his other G&S libretti, why is Thespis not here? How impressed would you be with a Bible - indeed, an allegedly "complete" and rather expensive Bible - missing the Book of Genesis? How is it that Penguin's Complete G&S (also sold by Amazon*) includes Thespis while Mr Bradley's superficially more substantial tome, does not? Contrary to what he claims in the book's introduction, Thespis IS performed - in the past week I've found five DVD productions for sale, and there are probably more - so the justification for inclusion of its libretto is rather more than merely academic. On this basis, anyone who wants a truly "complete" G&S experience should look elsewhere than this hefty but deficient pretender.

Secondly, the book is covered with a flimsy paper binding that's barely durable enough to cope with the book's significant weight and sure to wear badly. Annoyingly, my copy arrived with the top corner of the front cover bent back, rendering it immediately dog-eared - and if Amazon can't manage to deliver new books in pristine condition, then they shouldn't be in the book-selling business. But, careless packaging aside, I'd advise anyone buying this book to invest at the same time in one of those protective plastic covers that libraries use (that's what I've done, anyway - you need the 234mm size). The other, probably more satisfactory solution, is to spring the extra few pounds necessary to acquire a hardback copy instead.

There's a lot that's good about this book, which clearly represents a lifetime's hard work on the part of its compiler/author. All the more pity, then, that it is neither complete, as claimed, nor more sturdily covered. Maybe future editions will correct both faults. It would be nice to think so. Meanwhile, just three stars.

The Savoy Operas: The Complete Gilbert and Sullivan (Penguin Classics)
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