Established in 1938, the Pittsburgh Savoyards is the fourth oldest Gilbert and Sullivan Company in the United States. Its origins are described in a tenth anniversary program: “In the fall of 1938 the adult choirs of Calvary Episcopal Church and their friends began rehearsal of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’ as a choir camp benefit. Directors were George M. Rowland, Jr. and the late Dr. Harvey Gaul, then organist and choirmaster of Calvary Church. In May 1939 after a successful two-night run of ‘The Pirates’ company. The group’s purpose was to produce Gilbert and Sullivan and other light operas on a non-profit basis for the enjoyment and education of the membership.”
Since 1938-1939, the Pittsburgh Savoyards has presented several Gilbert and Sullivan operas each season, performing in various local theatres and auditoriums. Other works presented infrequently are
The Devil and Daniel Webster,
Die Fledermaus, and
Amahl and the Night Visitors. The Savoyards have also sung occasionally at concerts and as an opera chorus.
Burt Mustin, a native Pittsburgher who was later to achieve fame as an actor in national television situation comedies, was active in the organization in the 1940’s, singing such roles as the Judge in
Trial by Jury, Poo-Bah in
The Mikado, and Sir Joseph Porter in