opera by Arthur Sullivan

Thespis, or The Gods Grown Old is an operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan. It is the first of their fourteen operettas. It was commissioned in 1871 by John Hollingshead, manager and owner of the Gaiety Theatre in the Strand. It was not well rehearsed, and lasted only 65 performances. It was generally well received by the critics.

Thespis programme.jpg
Original programme
Written byW. S. Gilbert (words)
Arthur Sullivan (music)
Date of premiere26 December 1871
Place of premiereGaiety Theatre
London, England
Original languageEnglish
SubjectGreek mythology
SettingMount Olympus

Thespis takes place on Mount Olympus and tells of a theatrical company which takes over the duties of the ancient Greek gods. Most of the music has been lost, making it impossible to reconstruct the operetta.


  • Bradley, Ian. 2001. The Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan. Oxford University Press. p. 3.