Programme revealed for 28th Gilbert and Sullivan Festival - returning at full-strength to Harrogate's Royal Hall

The 28th International Gilbert and  Sullivan Festival returns to the Royal Hall, Harrogate, with 12 days of non-stop merriment and superb entertainment.

Princess Ida at a former international Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate
Princess Ida at a former international Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Harrogate

The everlasting appeal of Britain's most enduring musical partnership continues.

There is no doubt that WS Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan are enjoying a surge in popularity due to this fabulous annual event, known as the "friendliest opera festival in the world." Sullivan's effervescent music matched with Gilbert's libretto, full of absurdity and satire, never fails to delight audiences of all ages.

The Festival includes a night with former members of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the last performance by Bridget D'Oyly Carte's Company at the Adelphi Theatre, London. Together Again will be conducted by David Steadman.

The acclaimed National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company will perform three new productions. The all-time favourite, The Pirates of Penzance, will be directed by Sarah Helsby Hughes and stars James Cleverton as the dashing Pirate King.

The must-see show of the 2022 season is the rarely performed Utopia Limited, directed by Jeff Clarke and starring Richard Suart as King Paramount.

Last staged by the company in 2011, this promises to be an exciting and visually stunning production.

Said Jeff Clarke: "What Utopia is really about is the sending up of Victorian Society and British morals and mores. And surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, not a lot of those have changed, and there is a lot that is still incredibly relevant to our society today."

John Savournin directs a brand new production of Iolanthe starring Matthew Kellett as the Lord Chancellor. This satirical fantasy conjures the escapism we all need right now with a hilarious story and an abundance of fairies and dim-witted members of the House of Lords.

Jeff Clarke also brings his much celebrated and much-loved production of Opera della Luna's HMS Pinafore . John Savournin brings Charles Court Opera's Patience and their acclaimed Express G&S - "When Agatha Christie meets Gilbert and Sullivan" parlour production. Forbear! Theatre will perform a brand new production of The Gondoliers.

Competing amateur groups at the Festival include Bus Pass Opera's production of Princess Ida; SavoyNet Performing Group brings The Grand Duke; The Ploverleigh Players will delight audiences with The Mikado, and Brussels Light Opera Company will perform The Pirates of Penzance.

Running alongside the Festival is a jam-packed fringe programme including talks, concerts and fully staged university productions.

The Gilbert and Sullivan Festival is back to full strength this summer.

It runs at the Royal Hall from August 10 to 21.