The Madison Savoyards began in 1963 with a production of Iolanthe with an orchestra. Believing the common practice of community groups at the time, using a piano, did not do full justice to Sullivan's score, MSL was founded on the principle of providing an authentic production of Gilbert & Sullivans masterpieces. It began, and remains, a company with no permanent staff, no office, a dedicated band of volunteers, a skilled and committed band of performers, musicians, production staff, and crew. All of this has been supported consistently and generously by contributors. That, and an audience that regularly fills the theater for productions combined with careful management of finances, has keep the Savoyards in the black.
We know from experience that the audience is greater for the more popular operas than the less known, so we plan accordingly. Thus, the rarely performed works are often preceded or followed (or sometimes both) by one much more familiar. We have thereby managed to perform all of the G&S operas and stay in the black over time, although some years may operate at a loss.
We strive to present productions that would make both Gilbert and Sullivan proud. We avoid trying to "improve" as some companies are prone to do, most often with unfortunate results. By trying to understand the intent of the authors, we allow the text and score to shine. Our productions are not stiff, cold museum pieces. Quite the contrary. We feel when we "do it right", the result feels as fresh and new as if it is the first performance and the humor is current.
Thus is the glory of Gilbert & Sullivan. The object of the humor is human nature itself, which never grows old. And the music is one of the treasures of human kind.
2013 marks the beginning of our second 50 years of G&S in Madison.
We look forward to seeing you in the theater.
We should warn you that exposure to Gilbert & Sullivan can be quite addictive. Should you succumb to this delightful malady shared by all Savoyards, you may wish to explore the subject of G&S further. Don't miss John Barker's outstanding summary of the subject and Emily Auerbach's essay "Precious Nonsense" in Savoyardage #84 on this site.
The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State University is an excellent on-line collection of everything G&S: history, performance practice, plot summaries, libretti, scores, and more.