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The libretto available in the online G&S Archive is marked as the "short version", so presumably a "long version" is, or was, also in existence. Does anyone know how it differs from the shorter version?


The original Cox and Box differs basically in length. One and a quarter hours as opposed to half an hour.

The dialogue is considerably longer, being taken mostly word for word from J Madison Morton's original farce of Box and Cox, with changes of gender made to account for the change from Mrs. Bouncer to Sergeant Bouncer.

Musical changes are as follows:-

  • In No:2 (Bouncer's song), the original 1st verse is omitted in the 'Savoy' edition.
  • In No:3 (Duet for Cox and Bouncer), the original 2nd verse is omitted as is a large amount of recitative. The 'rataplan' refrain was originally twice as long.
  • In No:4 (Box's Lullaby) the 2nd verse is omitted from the 'Savoy' version. This number was originally set to a different tune.
  • No:6 (Duet for Cox and Box), the 'Printer,printer' sequence is longer, couplets being sung separately first and then together. The 'rataplan' sequence is twice as long with a short break in the middle for a few lines of dialogue.
  • No:7 (Duet for Cox and Box) - the 2nd verse is omitted from the 'Savoy' version.
  • In the 'Savoy' version the entire gambling scene including the Duet (No:9) is omitted. The Finale is subsequently renumbered.
  • The Finale is shorter in the 'Savoy' edition as it loses Bouncer's reprise of his opening number.
  • The complete opera including the original setting of 'Hushed is the Bacon' is available on a cassette tape from the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. The Brent Walker video is also of the 'original' version (only slightly abridged) and is probably one of the best productions in that series.

D'Oyly Carte were in the habit at one time of omitting the sung finale altogether, just playing the last few bars under the final dialogue. This is preserved on the 1961 recording, now coupled on CD with Ruddigore. However, on the 1978 recording they did sing the Finale as in the 'Savoy' version, but with just the second refrain.


As I recall, this number [No: 6 (Duet for Cox and Box)] was transposed down for the Savoy version in the final section at least.

In the original poor Box has to pop off a series of high "b"s (I say "poor" as Box - in the original - represents my sole outing as a tenor...).


Ian Bond writes, "[O]n the 1978 recording, they did sing the Finale as in the 'Savoy version, but with just the second refrain." Thus it was performed at Buxton (this year) by Gareth Jones, Tom Round, and Michael Rayner. However, the intrepid Savoynetters (I am one) performed the entire Finale at Buxton as printed.


Following Ian Bond's analysis of the differences between the original Cox and Box, essentially Morton's farce with added musical interludes, and the truncated "Savoy" version: I find I prefer the shorter version of Bouncer's introductory song, because it has such an absurd feel to it. In the full version, Verse 1 tells us how he and his fellow soldiers waited for the enemy, and when they came they sang "Rataplan".

Verse 2 then says how no enemy came, and no one sang "Rataplan" -- a nice antithesis, but a bit overdrawn. But if we have Bouncer singing Verse 2 on its own, we are left with the daft vision of a bunch of soldiers sitting around with nothing to do, and resolutely not singing "Rataplan", while Bouncer gives us a spirited rendition of what we would not have heard had we been there....


...I reckon that the lines:

"My aged employer, with his physiognomy
"Shining from soap like a star in astronomy,
"Said, 'Mr. Cox, you'll oblige me and honour me'"

(which are sung at breakneck pace) are harder to get the tongue around than anything in the G&S canon.

You could cite J. W. Wells' solo (difficult because the unconnected words take some effort to remember precisely), the Ruddigore patter trio (breath control) and the roulette song (jumping between French and English) as having their own particular degrees of difficulty, but as a tongue-twister, the second verse of "My Master is Punctual" really takes the cake....


No discussion of Cox and Box would be complete without a listing of the many discrepancies between the published vocal score (I mean here the "Savoy" edition published by B&H in the UK, unless there are parts extant for the original edition as well), the orchestral parts, and "usual" practice. For starters: the first few bars of no. 2 seem to be cut usually, and there is an erroneous extra bar in the finale of the VS about two-thirds down the second page. Any more takers?

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