Thespis; or, The Gods Grown Old - An Introduction
In 2007, director and designer Anthony Baker and conductor Timothy Henty were approached with the idea of presenting a professional performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's lost opera, Thespis; or, The Gods Grown Old in London.
W. S. Gilbert's libretto for the piece - which tells the tale of ageing Greek deities that trade places with a travelling theatre company (with disastrous consequences) - survives in full. However, Sullivan's score for Thespis is all but lost. Only Climbing Over Rocky Mountain, which found its way into the evergreen The Pirates of Penzance, and Little Maid of Arcadee, which survived after having been published as a parlour song, are extant.
There have been several attempts to provide new solutions to performing the piece, and Baker and Henty decided to come up with their own, using music by Sullivan and also the famous French operetta composer Jacques Offenbach. After 14 months of collaboration, with Baker and Henty jointly selecting appropriate musical sources, Baker adapting the libretto and Henty arranging and orchestrating the material, the result was the first fully professional performance of the work since 1872. The production, held at the Normansfield Theatre in London, starred Richard Suart as Thespis and received wide critical acclaim.
The score to Baker and Henty's new performing version of the work was published in 2009 and is available for performance globally. As of 2016, there have been seven productions of the Baker/Henty version in the UK, USA and Australia, including a successful presentation at the 2014 International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival by the SavoyNet Performing Group.
Published by Lulu, the Baker/Henty vocal score comes with the complete libretto, an extensive introduction and performing notes. It is available for purchase here:
REVIEWS, PHOTOS AND VIDEOS
Scroll down to see a highlights from the original Normansfield production, reviews and a gallery of photos from various productions.
Gallery of recent productions
Normansfield - Original Production (2008), Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria (AUS) 2010, Leatherhead Operatic Society (UK) 2011, SavoyNet at the G&S Festival (International Cast) 2014, Troupers Light Opera (USA) 2016