Bath Gilbert & Sullivan Society
It was 75 years ago on 6th September 1944 that members from the Bath Philharmonic Club met to form the Bath Savoyards Society, appointing a Chair, Vice-Chair, Honorary Secretary and a committee of six members. A few weeks later the first official meeting of the new Society took place at the Little Theatre Café and listened to reading of The Gondoliers, illustrated by gramophone recordings. A regular pattern then developed of monthly meetings and talks, but a blow came in January 1945 when the Bath Philharmonic Club wished to disassociate itself from the Society because of its more literary than musical focus. The Society then moved to affiliate itself to the national Gilbert and Sullivan Society which duly happened on 1st April 1945 and the Society renamed ‘The Gilbert & Sullivan Society (Bath Branch)’.
After the war, the Society’s notable members included Audrey Gates and Victor Smith who gradually introduced a more significant musical performance element to the group’s activities - some of these just to members, others to the public. Monthly meetings continued through the fifties, sixties and seventies with membership fluctuating during this whole period. However, the appetite and ambition for the group to present a larger scale production began to develop within the membership but it was not until the mid-1980s and under the leadership of Betty Doucy that this was finally realised.
In 1986, Patience was staged at the Bath College Theatre, with full orchestra, set and costumes. Annual productions continued there until the theatre’s closure in 1995 and then transferred to The Wroughton Theatre, King Edward’s School. Our last production there was Princess Ida in 2016 and in total the Society have presented 33 fully staged productions. Alongside these, the Society has presented regular concert versions of the operas, concerts, plays and scratch performances at venues in and around Bath. A particularly successful departure in recent years has been our Old Time Music Hall nights here at The Mission. We have also gone beyond G&S to present works by other composers including Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld and Lehar’s The Merry Widow and these have been much enjoyed by our audiences.
You can read more about the history of the Society by clicking on the link below.
The Society's aim is to perform and appreciate the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and their contemporaries.
Its primary objectives are:
To foster an interest in the operas amongst the younger generation and their contemporaries
To enable members to develop their knowledge of the operas and their contemporaries
To build up a nucleus of amateur artists with a view to the production of dramatic or operatic works connected with the authors
Here's the cast of our Rose Bowl Award Winning production of The Pirates of Penzance in November 2018, performed at The Mission Theatre.