By W.S Gilbert & A. Sullivan

 

 

The Pirates of Penzance was the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera to have its official premiere in New York. At the time, American law offered no copyright protection to foreigners. After their previous opera, H.M.S. Pinafore, was a hit in London, over a hundred American companies quickly mounted unauthorized "pirated" productions, often taking considerable liberties with the text and paying no royalties to the creators. By mounting their next opera in New York, Gilbert and Sullivan hoped to forestall further "piracy" by establishing the official production in America before others could copy it. They did succeed to an extent, by mounting the first production themselves, as well as operating U.S. touring companies and delaying publication of the score and libretto, but it was an ongoing battle over many years to try and control the American performance copyrights, often without success.