Following its current regional repertory tour, Carl Rosa Opera Company will bring a clutch of three Gilbert & Sullivan operettas - 1885’s The Mikado, 1882’s Iolanthe and 1879’s The Pirates of Penzance - to the West End’s Gielgud Theatre for a West End residency from 1 January to 1 March 2008.

While the company has been performing in rep on tour - with Iolanthe and Pirates as well as productions of The Yeomen of the Guard and Patience, which will not transfer – its productions will play in succession at the Gielgud. The Mikado opens the season from 30 January to 9 February, followed by Iolanthe from 11 to 16 February and The Pirates of Penzance from 18 February to 1 March.

The Mikado transplants mid-Victorian England to the exotic background of oriental Japan, where the cast of comic characters in the tale of love, marriage and corruption in local government includes Koko, Yum Yum, Nanki Poo and the Mikado himself. The Carl Rosa revival features the Oscar-winning sets and costumes from Topsy-Turvy, Mike Leigh's 2000 film about the creation of the operetta.

In Iolanthe, the title character is banished for marrying a mortal and having his son, but when the young man wishes to marry, his fairy queen storms Westminster to make him a Member of Parliament so he can win the girl. And in The Pirates of Penzance, one of G&S’s best-known operettas, young Frederic is distraught to learn that his pirate apprenticeship won’t end until he’s 84, because he was born on 29 February in a leap year.

Since the demise of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in 2003, the Carl Rosa Opera Company has become the UK’s oldest and only professional touring G&S company. It employs 65 musicians, singers and technicians, presenting traditional productions with a fresh approach and without the aid of sponsorship or public subsidy.

The company was established in 1873, closing in 1960 before being relaunched in 1998 by artistic director Peter Mulloy and musical director Wyn Davies. Its current tour opened at Bath’s Theatre Royal on 3 September and concludes in Cardiff on 1 December 2007. The new West End season is produced by Raymond Gubbay.

Currently at the Gielgud, Rupert Goold’s acclaimed production of Macbeth, starring Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood, finishes its run on 1 December 2007 and is followed, from 5 December 2007 to 28 January 2008, by another Chichester Festival Theatre transfer, the two-part adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel Nicholas Nickleby.

- by Terri Paddock