Wikipedia:WikiProject Gilbert and Sullivan/Opera articles

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Introduction[edit]

This page describes the style guideline for articles on operas, plays and any other substantial works, such as oratorios, relating to WikiProject Gilbert and Sullivan. A common style provides coherency to a set of related articles. It also provides a working guideline to assist editors who are adding new articles or updating existing ones. This guideline has borrowed heavily from similar Wikipedia projects that have developed such guidelines, particularly the Musical Theatre and Opera projects.

The table below summarizes:

  • The preferred section headings for articles on these works, in their preferred order.
  • In what circumstances the section is required for a "good article".
  • A brief description of what the section should contain.

The intention is to describe a consistent way to allocate the information in an article in order to craft a good article on an opera, play or other substantial work for the Gilbert and Sullivan project. This may seem daunting. Editors should not feel obligated to satisfy all of these requirements for an article immediately. Indeed, the usual trend at Wikipedia is that articles start out as stubs and become progressively more complete and better as other editors add to them. It is easier to contribute to an existing article than to create a new one, so making a start, even with a "stub", is welcome.

For the purposes of the table below, a major work is any one of the eleven frequently performed Gilbert and Sullivan operas (those from Trial by Jury through The Gondoliers), plus Cox and Box. Of course, it is possible to treat a less important work as thoroughly as a major work—the sections listed below are never inapplicable, as long as verifiable information exists. However, for the major works, the Project editors will especially strive, over time, to fill in every applicable section.

Guideline details[edit]

Section Required Description
brief introduction
(article lead-in—
no heading)
always Briefly introduce the opera or play. It should be no more than three paragraphs and should explain the work's importance for a generalist reader. It should not be cluttered with details that belong in later sections. Further advice is available at Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles. As noted on this Project's project page, following similar advice at our parent project, Project Opera, the members of the G&S project discourage using infoboxes at the top of biography and opera articles within the scope of this Project, as they generally contain only repetitive information and interfere with the placement of images at the beginning of articles. An extensive discussion on this topic from 2011 is at Talk:Richard D'Oyly Carte. -- Ssilvers (talk) 13:44, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Background always Describe the genesis of the work, the circumstances that brought it into existence, historical matters that affected its creation, major changes/disputes in the creative period, an overview of its reception and later revivals, its influence on the creator(s)' lives, its cultural impact and so forth. The Gondoliers offers a good example.

For major works, separate headings are provided (below) for Critical Reception, Musical and dramatic elements, Productions, Cultural Influence, etc. When there is not much to say about these topics, they can all be covered under Background.

Roles always Provide a list of roles in the work, in the same order as the dramatis personæ in a libretto or script. For operas, provide the voice parts (soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone (possibly qualified with an adjective such as "patter", "lyric", "heavy", or "comic"), bass-baritone or bass).
Synopsis always Describe what happens in the piece, by act and scene. If the work has acts and/or numbered scenes, such division should be under a sub-heading. Ivanhoe offers a good example with multiple acts and scenes. Include Setting information in the Synopsis.
Musical numbers if applicable For works with music, where there is a surviving score, provide a list of the musical numbers.
  • Follow the numbering of the standard vocal score and orchestral parts, and use *s to make a bullet-point list. Follow this by the first few words of the number in quotes (see below for exceptions), then the list of characters singing in that number in parentheses. Example:
  • 1. "We sail the ocean blue" (Sailors)
  • 2. "Hail! Men-o'-war's men"... "I'm called little Buttercup" (Buttercup)
  • In general, give the first line, except where an alternate title is so common that referring to the number by any other name would be confusing ("Come bumpers - aye, ever so many"). Traditional titles and some of the rarer descriptions (Madrigal, Baracole, etc) could optionally be given before the first line, followed by a colon (e.g., Madrigal: "Brightly dawns our wedding day"; The Nightmare Song: "Love, unrequited"... "When you're lying awake".) Where a piece is usually identified by a later line, give the latter line in parentheses, e.g. "Love feeds on many kinds of food" ("I love that love")
  • Where a song involves almost everyone, use (Ensemble) instead of listing all the characters singing.
  • Where a recitative precedes a song, provide both the first line of the recit. and the first line of the song, separated by ellipses. For instance: The Nightmare Song: "Love, unrequited"... "When you're lying awake".
  • Long, complex numbers with more than two or three distinct parts should be divided into bulleted subsections. This often applies to Finales. See, e.g, The Pirates of Penzance.
  • Overtures and Entr'actes are listed on the line immediately before the section devision for the Act, separated from the preceding list of songs (if any) by a blank line or two.

Esoteric difficulties:

  • Include regularly-performed cut numbers (E.g., "Come mighty must", "When jealous torments", "Away, remorse") in the listing. Indicate it as a "Cut Song" or "Optional Song", except in the case of songs rarely now omitted, e.g., The Roulette Song or "The battle's roar is over". Use footnotes <sup>1</sup> at the bottom of the list of numbers for any necessary explanations.
  • Where alternate performable versions exist (e.g., "Henceforth all of the crimes"/"For thirty-five years"), list both, labelling the later or less-performed one as an "Alternative". For unperformed, but notable numbers, e.g., "Happy are we in our loving frivolity" from The Sorcerer, we suggest adding a footnote: <sup>1</sup> to put the name and description at the bottom of the list of numbers. For recently-discovered and/or incomplete numbers such as "Reflect, my child", note all information in the "versions" section instead of the numbers list, except where the numbering of a piece in the standard score still includes the number, such as The Zoo #4, include the number inside parentheses, e.g. (4. Cut song for Laetitia, lyrics now lost). Give the title, if possible.
  • Where ambiguity exists to a song or section's title, give both, separated by a slash: "Young Strephon is the kind of lout"/"With Strephon for your foe, no doubt"
Versions or
Cut numbers
if applicable If the work was performed in multiple versions, describe its evolution. This section is to be used for versions that exist in a performable state. For example, the fact that Patience was at one point about clerics, rather than æsthetics, should be described in Background, since no performable text of the clerical version exists. If there were no substantial differences in the Versions other than cuts, the heading may be Cut numbers or Cut material. Ruddigore offers a good example of multiple versions.
Critical reception major works Describe the critical reception of the work from a verifiable neutral point of view, based on citable, reliable sources. For works that have survived in the repertory, a historical survey may be called for. Include this section only where there is a significant amount of material. If it is less than two or three paragraphs, the topic can be included in Background.
Musical elements major works Provide an analysis of the musical elements of the work. If the section is included, it must be verifiable, from a neutral point of view, based on citable, reliable sources.
Dramatic elements major works Provide an analysis of the dramatic/literary elements of the work. The same cautions described for Musical elements apply here.
Productions major works Provide a summary of major professional productions of the work. A "major" production will probably include a number of "notable" performers. For a work not often revived, productions can be covered under Background instead of a separate section.
Historical casting major works Provide a summary of the casting of the work—usually in tabular form—in major professional productions. It need not be limited to D'Oyly Carte Opera Company productions, although there were long periods when there were no other notable professional productions. A "major" production will probably include a number of "notable" performers. If there have not been many professional productions, this can be covered in Productions instead of a separate section.
Adaptations if applicable Provide a description of major adaptations. This section will apply only to a handful of works. An adaptation is defined as a production based on the original work, but with a considerable amount of new material. As a rough guideline, The Pirate Movie is considered an adaptation of The Pirates of Penzance, but Joseph Papp's Pirates is considered a production of the opera.
Cultural impact major works Describe any impact of the work on popular culture.
Recordings major works Provide a brief description of the notable professional recordings. Only an overview is intended, not a full duplication of The Gilbert & Sullivan Discography (to which the article may link for further details). Critical opinion should be backed up with citable sources, and not merely the personal viewpoint of the article's editor.
Editions major works Provide a description of available performing editions of the score and/or libretto.
Trivia optional This heading is preserved for consistency with WikiProject Musicals, but has not yet been used for any of the Gilbert and Sullivan works. Some members of the project believe that this heading should not be used, and that all notable information should fit somewhere else.
See also optional Use this heading for any relevant intra-wiki links that were not mentioned somewhere in the text of the article. Since important material generally is mentioned within the article text, this section is usually not necessary. If material found in another article is crucial to understanding an article, the link may be listed for emphasis and ease of navigation, even though it is already mentioned in the article.
Notes optional Use this section only if the article includes footnotes. For the most part, the Gilbert and Sullivan articles have used inline Harvard referencing, with a list of References at the bottom of the page, but this system is not mandatory.
References always Use this section to cite sources used in the preparation of the article, other than External links. To ensure a consistent format, sources should be formatted using the standard citation templates.
Further reading optional Use this section to call the reader's attention to additional reading material that was not used specifically as source material for the article but that may provide relevant background or further details of interest. Source material for the article is collected in Notes and/or References.
External links always Provide a list of relevant external links. The reader should not be bombarded with an exhaustive list of every site on the web that mentions the work. Rather, provide only a list of links that would significantly enhance the reader's understanding of the subject. Put links in descending order of relevance. The first external link may often be the relevant page at The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive.

Current assessment[edit]

This table describes the status of the opera articles' current level of compliance with the above guidelines.

Section Required
brief introduction All articles have this, but in some cases it is too detailed, and a Background section should be created.
Background Missing or incomplete for many works.
Roles Always present.
Synopsis Always present.
Musical numbers Present in nearly all cases.
Versions or
Cut numbers
Usually present where applicable.
Critical reception Required section for major works;not yet present in most.
Musical elements Required section for major works;not yet present in most.
Dramatic elements Required section for major works;not yet present in most.
Productions Present for most of the G&S operas. Missing from many of the major works.
Historical casting Present for most of the G&S operas. Missing from other major works.
Adaptations Not present in most cases, and often not applicable.
Cultural impact Usually present for articles where relevant.
Recordings Required section for major works; Present for most G&S operas; missing from many of other the major works.
Editions Required section for major works; not yet present in any.
Trivia Section should probably be eliminated. See WP:TRIVIA.
See also Optional section.
Notes Optional section.
References Required section; present in most articles.
Further reading Optional section usually not present.
External links Present in every article.