George Mason University

News at Mason

Gilbert and Sullivan Collection to Make Its Home at Mason

October 7, 2014

The Pirates of Penzance Galop features Richard Temple as the original Pirate King. Photo provided.

The Pirates of Penzance Galop features Richard Temple as the original Pirate King. Photo provided.

By Corey Jenkins Schaut

Dramatic author W.S. Gilbert tells us in his fairy opera Iolanthe, created with composer Arthur Sullivan, that “it’s love that makes the world go round.” While he was right, it’s safe to say that a bit of generosity helps, too.

George Mason University benefactor David Stone has spent years amassing a treasure trove of Gilbert and Sullivan memorabilia, from original manuscripts to production materials to letters and personal effects of the two men and their partner, Richard D’Oyly Carte. Now, Stone and his wife, Ann, are giving their collection to the University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives. The couple has also created the David and Annabelle Stone Gilbert and Sullivan Endowed Fund for cataloging and preserving the collection.

“In George Mason University, with the libraries’ history with the Federal Theatre Project and other significant performing arts collections and the school’s vibrant music and theater programs, we have found the Gilbert and Sullivan Collection a perfect home,” says Stone.

“The research value of this collection is inestimable,” says John Zenelis, dean of libraries and university librarian. “The Stones have built an extensive, notable collection of Gilbert and Sullivan papers, theatrical documentation, and related objects, much of which was either penned or handled by Gilbert and Sullivan themselves. The collection represents the duo’s unique talents and reflects the interests of Victorian audiences, along with the sensibilities of their time.”

Ann and David Ston'es walls are adorned with  posters—these from D’Oyly Carte productions of the 1890s. Photo provided.

Ann and David Stone’s walls are adorned with posters—these from D’Oyly Carte productions of the 1890s. Photo provided.

“To approximate the impact of Gilbert and Sullivan today you would have to combine the artistic forces of Broadway, Saturday Night Live, the Metropolitan Opera, and maybe, on the merchandizing front, Disney,” says Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center and a professor of theater in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “These materials offer unparalleled access to the creative process, the relationships, the business decisions and the influence of Gilbert and Sullivan on their time and beyond.”

Mason’s faculty and students will use the collection for teaching and learning and creating original programming through stage productions or symposia. Zenelis says future public exhibits of collection materials will likely be displayed in the Fenwick Library addition when it opens and in other university venues in conjunction with musical and theatrical events.