Gilbert and Sullivan Archive


7.1 Background to the Premiere of Thespis

David Duffey (continuing his informative sequences of background events to the various G&S opera premieres): Difficult one this, being produced so late in the year and having such a short run. In consequence I'm sticking with all of 1871 and overlooking 1872.Real worries just over the Channel, with the formation of the German Empire (the Second Reich) and the Franco-Prussian War. Paris was besieged for four months and France defeated. The Paris Commune was formed, 'ruling' for two months and leading to the "bloody week" with the massacre of 20 000 citizens and the murder of hostages, including the Archbishop of Paris. Princess Eugenie takes refuge in England. Germany demands and receives five billion francs reparation and France cedes Alsace-Lorraine; thus is stored up resentment over reparations and territory which will have cataclysmic repercussions throughout the twentieth century.The Alabama Claims Tribunal met in Geneva: the role of the British Government allowing the sale of arms to the Confederacy and providing them with mercenaries, shipping and the safe harbouring of shipping, is not one which normally receives a great deal of attention from British historians. The Treaty of Washington supposedly heals all breaches between UK and US.The invention of the half-tone process allowed newspapers to print pictures for the first time.Charles Babbage, indirectly responsible for the foundation of Savoynet, died.Louisa May Alcott published Little Men and Horatio Alger, Tattered Tom. A mathematician, who today would be regarded with the utmost suspicion - and in his lifetime had certain reservations expressed about his photography - published Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.Alexander Graham Bell emigrated to US (from Canada).British Columbia becomes part of the Canadian Confederation and Emily Carr is born there.The town of Alice Springs is founded.Usage of the Chisholm Trail begins to decline with the opening of the Dodge City railhead.Rama V (Chulalongkom) of Thailand pays a state visit to India.B T Barnham launches The Greatest Show on Earth.[Ronald Orenstein corrected: Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum.]Charles Darwin publishes The Descent of Man. The Jehovah's Witnesses founded.The Albert Hall is opened.John Pierpont Morgan enters the firm of Drexel, Morgan & Co.Dante Gabriel Rossetti publishes his rebuttal of 'The Fleshy School of Poetry' entitled, The Stealthy School of Criticism.Johann Dollinger organises a meeting of theologians at Nuremburg which publicly repudiates the doctrine of Papal infallibility. Dollinger is excommunicated and his writings placed on The Index.General Grant's administration proves to be corrupt, although Grant probably was not.Meetings are held to formulate plans for the FA Cup to be played for. The first competition is in 1872. William Gilbert scores 2000 runs in the season, including 10 centuries. Dr William Gilbert Grace, that is. Wild Bill Hickok marshal of Abilene, Kansas. The Force Bill, implementing the 14th Amendment, is passed. Brigham Young is indicted on a bigamy charge, but gets off!Walt Whitman publishes Passage to India (verse) and Democratic Visits (prose). Edward Lear publishes Nonsense Songs. H C Frick organises the H C Frick Coke Company.Henry Irving makes his first appearance at The Lyceum. Mary Ann Evans - George Elliot - serialises Middlemarch. Bank Holidays introduced in England and Wales.Basutoland becomes part of Cape Colony; Britain annexes the Kimberley diamond fields.National Association of Professional Baseball Players founded in New York. SS "Oceanic", of the White Star Line, launched, the first of the large modern luxury liners.Mount Cenis Tunnel opened in Switzerland Alps, being constructed without the benefit of Simon Ingersoll's pneumatic rock drill.Central Administration established in Japan.Rasputin was born.Trivia question, what famous words, legend has it, were spoken at Ujiji by an American to a lost Englishman?[Donald Smith was first to reply: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" (by H. M. Stanley)Ted Rice added whimsically: "Captain Spaulding, I presume ?"]..and talking of legends, apparently quite a number surround the Great Fire of Chicago.

7.2 A Thespian Puzzle

David Duffey, (continuing his sequence of cryptic puzzles relating to the Opera Of The Week): I have tried to make them so that a very detailed knowledge of the libretto is not necessary.

  1. Take sulphur from range to make an entrance. (5,8) Light troupe shouts for cars awkwardly. (6,2,5) A god about the same as one Italian hen, we hear. (6) Gilbert used good length words for a change. (3,4,5,3) The location where the gods initially only let young men play until sunset. (7) Grossmith could have thought, "'Flu ends rival." Eccentric, but he played a part. (4,8) Actor-manager, who can be found inside, loathes Piscians. (7) Maid played a red ace. (7) It sounds as though that god belongs to mother. (4)
  2. Fix me curry: that will show whether I have a temperature. (7)

[Editor's Note: For answers, see Appendix II.]

7.3 Websites

Steve Sullivan (adding to his Website documentation for all the G&S operas): The Web Sites that I know of for Thespis are:

Page created 1 Dec 1997