As the Gilbert and Sullivan operas thrived in London and throughout the British Isles, they inevitably made their way to America. H.M.S. Pinafore arrived in Boston as a pirated production in November 1878 and soon took the nation by storm. The absence of copyright protection gave American companies free-rein to do with the work as they would. The “Pinafore craze” ran throughout 1879, and it wasn’t until December of that year that Gilbert, Sullivan, and Carte brought their own Pinafore to America, and with it their next opera—The Pirates of Penzance, the only opera to premiere in New York, rather than London.
Featured here are programs, photographs, prints, posters, and souvenirs from the Gilbert and Sullivan operas in North America.