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Compiled by Bill McCann

October 1997


John Wellington Wells


1. General thoughts about the Opera
1.1 An error of judgement
1.2 Underrated
1.3. Pretend it don't exist
1.4 Difficult to Direct
1.5 It's lack of popularity
1.5.1 Kill Alexis
1.5.2 Bad Directors
1.5.3 It' s Just not Good
1.6 Its Title
1.7 The 1884 Revival
1.8 Lack of Political Satire
2. The Plot
2.1 Straightforward Plot
2.2 The "Lozenge" Plot
2.2.1 What it was
2.2.2 Gilbert's Obsession
2.2.3 A Shavian Gilbert
2.3 Updates
2.3.1 The Asimov version
2.3.2 The least susceptible Opera
3. The Music
3.1 General Observations
3.1.1 Simply Brilliant
3.1.2 Sullivan's Finest
3.1.3 A Striking Resemblance
3.2 The Numbers
3.2.1 Sexist assignations
3.2.2 Gilbert Parodies Cavatina
3.2.3 Lady Sangazure's Lost Ballad
3.3 The Runt of the Litter
3.3.1 Worst tenor songs in the canon
3.3.2 The Runtiest of All
4. The Libretto
4.1 A Lousy Proof-reader
4.2 Location
4.3 Those Gawdawful Accents
4.4 Class Satire
4.5 Wells' Speech
4.6 Many Loves of Alexis
4.7 From Banquet to Brunch
5. The Characters
5.1 John Wellington Wells
5.1.1 From Dandy to Grotesque Drunkard
5.1.2 Lytton's Wells
5.2 Alexis
5.2.1 A dumb Radical
5.2.2. Hoist with his own Petard
5.2.3 Clueless and Hypocritical
5.3 Aline
5.3.1 A Baggage!
5.3.2 Saddled with a twit
5.4 Dr Daly & Constance
5.4.1 Lecherous Daly
5.4.2 Mrs (?) Partlett
5.4.3 A Grave Digger
5.4.4 The Defence
5.4.5 And the Lord Chancellor
6. Stagecraft
6.1 Wells' Business
6.1.1 Flaming fingers & Visual Aids
6.1.2 The Penny Curse & Wizard's Hat
6.1.3 And Foaming Urn
6.1.4 The Business Cards & Sleeping Beings
6.1.5 And Teacups Emptying
6.1.6 In An Elevated Gazebo
6.2 And Vines Intertwined
6.3 A 1920s Setting
7. Recordings
7.1 Records
7.2 Video
7.3 CDs
8. Also Happened in 1877
8.1 David Duffey's Patter
8.1.1 The Phonograph
8.1.2 Famine in China
8.1.3 Louisa May Alcott
8.1.4 Henry James & William Kirby
8.1.5 American Politics
8.1.6 Executions
8.1.7 Mary Baker
8.1.8 Martian Canals
8.1.9 Test Match
8.1.10 Australia
8.1.11 India
8.1.12 Russia
8.1.13 South Africa
8.1.14 Japan
8.1.15 Lourdes
8.1.16 Sarah Bernhardt
8.1.17 The Delectable Lady Eastnor
8.1.18 Lord Henry Somerset
8.1.19 Obscene Literature
8.1.20 Dame Ethel Smyth
9. Sorceriana
9.1 Web Sites
10. Appendix 1 -- Acronyms Translated
11. Appendix 2 -- What is A Savoyard?


The Sorcerer was first produced at the Opéra Comique on November 17th 1877. It was the first full length opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. It was commissioned by Richard D'Oyly Carte for his new Comedy Opera Company. The plot is derived from Gilbert's contribution to the 1876 Christmas edition of the periodical, the Graphic. The first American production was on 21 February 1879. It was somewhat altered for its 1884 revival when it enjoyed great success.

The following discussion is a compilation of the thoughts and opinions of subscribers to the SavoyNet Maillist between July 29th and August 19th 1997. It should be noted that, while many of the contributors have performed in, and/or extensively researched, The Sorcerer, the following opinions reflect the personal views of the individual contributors to which they are attributed.

The archivist's comments, which are generally kept to a minimum, are given in italics in order to distinguish them from the main discussion. The original words of the individual contributors have been retained with, in general, only light editing. However, verbosity did rear its head on some occasions and judicious pruning was undertaken where necessary. Almost 150 individual postings were finally selected for inclusion and, in order to allow the readers as much freedom as possible in navigating through these, a comprehensive index has been compiled. Just follow the HTML links to those parts of the discussion that appeal to you.

Many SavoyNetters are fond of using acronyms for some common (and, occasionally, uncommon) phrases. However, for others in the group these remain a profound mystery and even an irritant. I had originally thought of substituting the complete phrase where these occurred in the discussions but that would be to remove what is a characteristic aspect of SavoyNet postings. Instead, I have left them untouched but provided Appendix One where all those that occur in these discussions are translated. I have also included, in Appendix Two,a short discussion about what constitutes a Savoyard. Although off-topic this deserves to be preserved in the G & S archives IMHO.

And now an Archivist's confession. During the discussions there was a very slack period when the flow of postings was little more than a dribble. The pot needed stirring so I posted a couple of provocative (if not downright inflammatory) opinions on the plot of and characters in the Opera. It should be noted that these are not my real opinions about The Sorcerer, of which I am very fond.


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