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THE DUKE OF DUNSTABLE
ANDREW CROWTHER: Odd thing about the ending of Patience. Everyone knows all Gilbert's plots end with an arbitrary twist, the kind of logical fun and games which in extreme cases can take about five minutes with pencil and paper to work out. But here the plot has worked itself to a reasonable conclusion by itself by the time the final scene comes around Patience has her Grosvenor as an inevitable result of the foolishness that has gone before. Of course, Gilbert does manage to fit in his usual fun and games when, with fanfares and ceremony, the Duke chooses Jane for his bride, despite all the sane rules of human behaviour.
ROBERT JONES: It does tidy itself up somewhat more gently than other plots, but the final Duke ex machina (I couldn't help myself) ties up the loose ends, explains the opera's subtitle, and gives our noses one final rub in the dirt that is human hypocrisy and fickleness.
ANDREW CROWTHER: Question is, though, does anyone really care what the Duke does? His decision does at least mean Bunthorne is crushed again and he can go into the Finale nicely unmatched, but in the opera as we have it the Duke is such a minor character anyway that it seems very odd to make such a song and dance about his matrimonial affairs.
NICK SALES: I have always felt that the Duke is implied to be of more importance to the opera (and its inhabitants) than Gilbert ended up making him. I wonder if this was down to Gilbert's unease about tenors following the bad experiences of the past, uncertainties about Lely, or something else.
HARRIET MEYER: I think the Duke is memorable as the exponent of some of Gilbert's most telling passages on the theme of moderation, and he has high moments in "You hold yourself like this".
ANDREW CROWTHER: It seems clear that the Duke started out as a more major role than he ended up. He originally had a proper song of his own, for instance. Durward Lely created the role: maybe Gilbert decided to be cautious with him, because he was a newcomer (after a bad run of tenors) though Lely later became a Savoy stalwart. In which case, it seems possible that Gilbert intended to explore various aspects of love the Duke as "matrimonial fish", irresistibly attractive because of his title.
NICK SALES: Did we establish that either the words or the music or both to the unused Duke's song were/are existent? Also, please, where was it intended to fit in (if it ever got that far)?
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