Gilbert's Letter to The Times of 16 September 1889
Issue 32805, pg. 6 col C


The Brigands


Sir,--Twenty years ago the then head of the firm of Messrs. Boosey and Co. commissioned me to adapt Les Brigands for copyright purposes only. This I did very hurriedly and imperfectly, but the adaptation served its destined end, inasmuch as the conditions of the Copyright Act were complied with, and I heard no more about this until the 5th of June last, when I received the following note from Mr. William Boosey:--

"295, Regent-street, London, W., June 5, 1889.

"Dear Sir,--We do not know whether you have noticed that Messrs. Van Biene and Lingard are intending to take into the country Offenbach's opera Les Brigands, with an English version written by you for us some years ago. We mention this in case you may like to look through the book, as we believe the present will be the first time of performance of the same.

     "Yours very truly,
          "WILLIAM BOOSEY."

To this note I replied as follows:

"39, Harrington-gardens, June 5, 1889.

"Gentlemen,--It is surely unnecessary to remind you that my version of Les Brigands was written not for dramatic representation, for which it is wholly unfitted, but merely for copyright purposes. Of course, I have no power to control your dealings with the piece, but I shall retain a very vivid impression of your singular lack of courtesy in making arrangements for its production without having in any way consulted me on the subject.

     "I am, &c.,
          "W.S. GILBERT."

As there is evidence that at the commencement of the negotiations between Messrs. Boosey and myself, I was under the impression that a stage version was required, I should probably find it difficult to restrain the performance of the piece as it stands, but that the then head of the firm had no idea of placing my version on the stage may be gathered from the fact that when Messrs. Boosey licensed the production of the opera at the Globe Theatre, some 15 years since, a version by the late Mr. H. S. Leigh was used for the purpose.

     I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
          W.S. GILBERT Previous letter Next letter



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