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While Gilbert & Sullivan set the majority of their operettas in their home country of England, Arthur Sullivan visited Venice in 1888 and the trip clearly influenced the sunny music that he composed for The Gondoliers. Italian folk dances such as the tarantella and saltarello jostle with other vivacious national dances such as the cachucha (a fast gypsy dance from Spain) and operatic influences including Bellini, Bizet, Handel and Mozart. The whole opera glitters with the heady exuberance of Sullivan kicking up his musical heels. After a command performance in 1891, Queen Victoria noted in her diary that The Gondoliers was “simply charming.”

The plot line is a familiar one, involving a mix up of identities at birth. Along the way to resolving the confusion, Gilbert skewers issues of social equality and the class system with his usual brilliant wit. When The Gondoliers premiered in London in 1889, it was given the highest critical acclaim from the local media, including one reviewer who wrote, plainly, “It is not opera or play. It is simply entertainment – the most exquisite entertainment we have ever seen.”

<em>The Velveteen Rabbit</em> Smuin's <em>The Christmas Ballet</em> <em>Irving Berlin's White Christmas</em> Disney's <em>The Lion King</em> <em>Beach Blanket Babylon</em> Sarah Silverman <em>A Christmas Carol</em> WinterFest at California's Great America San Francisco Ballet's <em>Nutcracker</em> <em>The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes</em> <em>A Christmas Carol</em> <em>Fun Home</em>