In 1875, when Richard D’Oyly Carte was managing the Royalty Theatre in London’s Soho, he commissioned Trial by Jury, Gilbert and Sullivan's second comic opera. They had collaborated on Thespis, or the Gods Grown Old at the Gaiety Theatre four years before, but without Carte it is doubtful that they would ever have worked together again. Carte was about to produce La Périchole, a French comic opera by Offenbach, and needed another short piece to fill the evening. Gilbert had already written the libretto, about a trial of ‘breach of promise of marriage’, but needed a composer. Carte suggested Sullivan, by this time a successful composer and conductor. Gilbert read him the libretto, Sullivan liked it, claiming later that ‘the words and music were written, and all the rehearsal completed within a space of three weeks’. This programme cover includes portraits of Offenbach (top, centre) Selina Dolaro, director of the theatre and star of La Périchole, flanked by Gilbert and Sullivan as winged cherubs.