The Productions: Pirates of Penzance

Much of The Pirates of Penzance (1879) was written in New York City, and this opera has always had a special place in the Gilbert and Sullivan canon for Americans. One night before Pirates opened in New York, one of Carte’s British touring Pinafore companies gave a single rough first performance, securing the copyright in England.

[Souvenir program]. London: Savoy Theatre, [Christmas season 1884]. D'Oyly Carte's Children's Opera Company production of The Pirates of Penzance.

Four gilt and color lithographed panels illustrating juvenile characters.

The New York opening was well received and Carte launched four separate American touring companies to capitalize on profits. Gilbert and Sullivan returned to London, where four months after the New York opening, The Pirates of Penzance was finally seen at the Opera Comique, sustaining audiences there for a year. During the Christmas season of 1884, Carte organized a children’s company to revive the opera.