Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



ANDREW CROWTHER: First, a quick recap of the famous story:

The opera was called "Ruddygore" on its first night. However, critical reaction suggested that this title was thought vulgar and unpleasant. Gilbert, in bitterly ironic mood, suggested two retitlings:

Kensington Gore; or, Not Half So Good as The Mikado
Kensington Gore; or, Robin and Richard Were Two Pretty Men

But in the end the collaborators simply decided to change the y to an i, and Ruddigore was born.

I think I've always felt there was something puzzling about all this. Accepting the premise that a sane being could seriously object to the original title, how could anyone suppose the alteration of a single letter affected the matter at all? The pronunciation is the same, the association with the shocking word "Ruddy" just as obvious.

Having thought about this problem for - ooh, fully two minutes, I suggest that the title change was simply another example of Gilbert (and Sullivan & Carte?) having a sly joke at the public's expense. The more mealy-mouthed of the London public probably still felt just as offended by the title, but in the end the change was not made to placate them. It was simply a gesture of exasperation, an acknowledgement of the utter lunacy of the original objections. Possibly?

THEODORE C RICE: I learned, while doing a short course with the RSC in London, that the popular name for "stage blood", is Kensington Gore.

MICHAEL P. WALTERS: I understood it was actually the name of a particular brand of stage blood, rather than a popular generic term.

THEODORE C RICE: As Winston C. was reputed to have said," may be right."

Though it was given as a generic term, the teacher - I can't remember his name - who was a knighted teacher of stage combat, told us, and demonstrated how it was made from a particular brand of red-colored toothpaste and water.

Page created 4 October 1997