Creatures of Impulse - Background - Writer and Composer

Writer and Composer

See also: W. S. Gilbert and Alberto Randegger

From the mid-1860s through the early 1870s, W. S. Gilbert was extremely productive, writing a large quantity of comic verse, theatre reviews and other journalistic pieces, short stories, and dozens of plays and comic operas. His output in 1870 included dozens of his popular comic Bab Ballads; two blank verse comedies, The Princess and The Palace of Truth; two comic operas, Our Island Home and The Gentleman in Black; and various other short stories, comic pieces, and reviews appearing in various periodicals and newspapers. In 1871 he was even busier, producing seven plays and operas.

Gilbert's dramatic writing during this time was evolving from his early musical burlesques to a more restrained style, as exemplified in his string of blank-verse fairy comedies. The first of these was The Palace of Truth, which opened in 1870 to widespread acclaim. He was also developing his unique style of absurdist humour, described as "Topsy-Turvy", made up of "a combination of wit, irony, topsyturvydom, parody, observation, theatrical technique, and profound intelligence". The story and play Creatures of Impulse date from the middle of this period, when Gilbert was trying different styles and working towards the mature style of his later work, including the famous series of Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Gilbert described the play as a "musical fairytale".

Italian-born Alberto Randegger was better known as a conductor and professor of singing than as a composer, although he composed several full-length works and numerous vocal pieces in England in the 1860s and 1870s. He is also remembered for his important 1879 textbook entitled Singing. His music for Creatures of Impulse was criticised as "extremely undramatic", though others found it "pretty". Much of it was cut from revivals of the piece.

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