Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



NEIL ELLENOFF: What would you cut in The Grand Duke? I think it is unrealistic to suggest an uncut version. Some of us would be fascinated (including me) but the point would be to make it a viable play.

MARC SHEPHERD: My feeling is that The Grand Duke has only one absolute loser number, "At the outset I may mention" (Ludwig's song near the beginning of Act II). I cannot imagine that number working, no matter who performs it or how it is performed.

I would also make the same cuts in the Act I finale that the D'Oyly Carte recording makes. I believe, but am not positive, that these cuts date from the original production.

All the remaining material in the opera can work well if you have the right performers. Ideally, the director knows her cast and can choose the cuts based on the strength of the company. Candidates for the pruning knife are:

Now, I wouldn't cut all of this material, by any stretch of the imagination. However, this is the "cuttable" material, and the director needs to decide what to retain.

Then, there is the dialogue. At a bare minimum, I would cut all references to Julia's "English" (i.e. German) accent.

MIKE STORIE: An interesting discussion of ways to salvage The Grand Duke. Just to show how backward we are in the North Woods, we added an entire scene with a page and a half of dialog and one entire song. The audience loved the show and we intend to repeat it season after next.

In general, we did trim:

Then we added:

After Julia and Ernest's song "A voice from the tomb," Julia exits and Rudolf wanders in. He and Ernest lament their "defunct" status and Ernest breaks the news to Rudolf that the law has been extended till 1996. They conclude that the only course is to defy the law come back to life. Neither has the stomach for doing something so unthinkable as defying the law!

Fortunately, the Notary enters at that point and offers to find them a loophole (for a small fee). Rudolf has problems with the fee but finally relents and so they plan a coup d'etat between them.

In discussing their plan, they sing "With wily brain upon the spot a private plot we'll plan," from Utopia.

It fits very well with no change in lyrics. At the end of the song the women's chorus enters and sings "Now bridegroom and bride let us toast in a magnum of merry champagne," just prior to the Herald's song.

The roulette song was not only retained but we had a fully operating roulette table and a game was played during the song.

The roulette song, the supernumeraries, the welcome ceremony for the Duke of Monte Carlo, and the scenery chewing of Julia Jellicoe (with a very German accent) stopped the show.

The added material came to just over six minutes of running time. The entire show, with 20 minute intermission came to 2 hrs and 40 min.

ARTHUR ROBINSON: I take it this is (or is based on) the revision published in Peter Kline's book on G&S production? (Did you also include the "Now step lightly, hold me tightly" bit from Haddon Hall?)

MITCHELL SCOTT GILLETT: This scene can be found in Peter Klien's G&S production book, along with the lyric theater's additional 15 min of extra plot complications. Like this show needs to find that there are really "2" hereditary Grand Dukedoms and Dukes, and a kidnapping, and a potential war, . . . etc. Sheesh!

J. DERRICK McCLURE: I think the practice of adding a bit to the second act has been tried a few times. In the old recording by the Lyric company of (was it? I've been wrong about this before) Washington DC, Rudolph, Ernest and the Notary had a scene in Act II, in which they plotted Ludwig's deposition: the musical number was, as in Mike's version, "With Wily Brain". More recently, Glasgow Orpheus Club, a G'n'S company older than The Grand Duke, added a scene where Rudolph and Ernest met in the town cemetery and lamented the lot of defunct dukes and managers, singing the "Stroller's Song" to a very attractive setting (I don't know by whom, sorry). Following this, the Notary entered and, under dire threats, agreed to think of a way to bring them back to life.

This Glasgow production also had some trimmings of the music (but the Brindisi, the Roulette Song and Rudolph's final patter-song were all left in) and extensive trimming of the dialogue: a brief interpolation in Act I, too, where a messenger appeared and announced to Rudolph the imminent arrival of the Prince of Monte Carlo - not a bad idea, as an audience seeing it for the first time could well lose the connection between Rudolph's explanation of the Monte Carlo business to the Baroness in Act I and the arrival of the Prince and Princess in Act II.

It may need some editing, but if judiciously done, experience always seems to show that there's the makings of a very good opera here.

BILL SNYDER: Hmmm. Sounds like Wolfson at work. When I did a summer at College Light Opera Wolfson supervised the cuts, removing most of Julia's more demanding music and some other things which, if pressed, I could remember. Added was that same scene with Wolfson's own setting of the song. It was not a bad setting, but I wouldn't call it particularly attractive. Then again it may be someone working from Wolfson's same sources. Does anyone know the history of that specific scene?

Page created 22 March 1998