Gilbert and Sullivan Archive


5.1 Voices

Sarah Mankowski listed the original cast: Without the music, Paul McShane wondered if we could match the characters to voice type. Perhaps this could be accomplished by examining the original cast. I'll list the cast, as I have it, and leave it to those of you with knowledge of these cast members to fill in the rest.


Mr. John Maclean


Mr. F. Sullivan


Mr. Wood


Mrs. H. Leigh


Miss E. Farren


Mr. J. L. Toole


Mr. J. G. Taylor


Mr. Marshall


Mr. Robert Soutar


Mr. H. Payne


Mr. F. Payne


Mlle. Clary


Miss Constance Loseby


Miss Berend


Miss Annie Tremaine


Miss L. Wilson

P.S. After typing out the names of the Thespians, I can clearly see they are Greek.. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Ronald Orenstein pointed out: Sparkeion, Mercury, and Cymon were all played by women, for one thing. All this is discussed in detail in Terence Rees' book . Of course Apollo must have had the same register as the judge in Trial by Jury as Fred Sullivan played them both.

Michael Walters summarised the voices:


Mr. John Maclean - uncertain. His other recorded appearances were in plays or in musical pieces now forgotten.


Mr. F. Sullivan - patter-baritone, presumably.


Mr. Wood [Frank Motley Wood] - tenor, played Box.


Mrs. H. Leigh - probably alto (was Mrs. Peachum in Beggar's Opera).


Miss E. Farren - soprano.


Mr. J. L. Toole - one presumes he was a patter baritone, but I cannot confirm this, as he doesn't appear to have sung much, and his various musical appearances are in pretty obscure and uncheckable.


Mr. J. G. Taylor – baritone; played Judge in Trial & Bouncer.


Mr. Marshall - nothing is known about him.


Mr. Robert Soutar - voice not known. Same remarks apply as to Maclean.


Mr. H. Payne - don't know.


Mr. F. Payne - don't know.


Mlle. Clary - probably alto; played Paris in La Belle Helene!


Miss Constance Loseby - also played Paris in La Belle Helene.


Miss Berend [Rose] - nothing known.


Miss Annie Tremaine - probably soprano; played in Offenbach's Rose of Auvergne - a three hander, in which the only woman is a soprano.


Miss L. Wilson [Lizzie] - not known.

5.2 Matching the music to other Sullivan pieces

5.2.1 General

Paul McShane enquired: Are there any pieces of Sullivan's music from other sources that seem especially well matched to any of the Thespis lyrics?

Ronald Orenstein led the charge with: I think that "If you ask me to advise you" from Rose of Persia fits "you're Diana - I'm Apollo" better than it does the lyric in Rose. It even changes key at an appropriate point.

Neil Ellenoff cautioned: I think we should be careful, however, in ascribing Sullivan's music from other operas to Thespis (Agreed, no one has). Before the music to The Zoo was found there were many people who assumed it had been destroyed because the music was used elsewhere.

Bruce Miller remarked: In fact, some of the music in The Zoo was used elsewhere - in the first part of Wandering Minstrel in Mikado, no less. What makes speculation more difficult is that when Sullivan made such borrowings, we can assume that he made adjustments (judging from the few examples, which have been identified). As Ron Orenstein has pointed out, "Climbing Over Rocky Mountain" was altered significantly for Pirates (especially the last half of it), although the primary tune and orchestration were retained virtually intact.The Wandering Minstrel transfer is especially illuminating, for while the basic orchestration (the imitation of the strumming guitar in the orchestral introduction was reproduced almost exactly) and the melodic and rhythmic outline of the tenor solo was used as a model, Sullivan's art had grown in ten years. This resulted in a more telling vocal line, and the revision changed what had been rather ordinary into one of his most brilliant melodic inspirations which seemed tailor-made to Gilbert's words.And partially due to the fact that Gilbert was a finer and more creative versifier than Bolton Rowe, he came up with a more inventive metrical pattern, which caused Sullivan to come up with a more inventive melodic line for the revision.It is probably a safe assumption to make that after Sullivan borrowed in this manner from The Zoo, he was not anxious for the older work to have further performances. He was already on record as saying that The Zoo, if it were to be revived, would need alterations anyway; and his association with Gilbert precluded, at least until the 1890's, any thought of that. The failure of The Chieftain no doubt put any thoughts he may have entertained in that direction on a very far back burner.

Back to Thespis: It would not surprise me at all to learn someday that a good percentage of Thespis was recycled in later operas and other works.

Marc Shepherd dissented: Actually, it would surprise me greatly. Surely, Neil Ellenoff's point is that, before The Zoo was found, people assumed that *boatloads* of music from it were used elsewhere. In fact, we find that only ONE number was re-used (and, even in that case, not without substantial alteration).

as did Tom Shepard: I think you may be making too much of this. Sullivan thrived on 6/8 ballads, and he may in fact have taken a jot from The Zoo for The Mikado. But it's only a jot because, as you have said, A Wandering Minstrel is a very well worked out lyric whereas The Zoo aria is really pretty pedestrian. Isn't it possible that Sullivan came up with A Wandering Minstrel without any conscious recall of The Zoo?

Marc Shepherd continued: Most of the time, Sullivan composed quickly and easily; he had no need to self-borrow relentlessly. Yes, we do know of at least two bits of Thespis that were re-used, and there could well have been more. But, were we lucky enough to discover the score, I don't doubt at all that the vast majority of it would be entirely unfamiliar to us.

Tom Shepard concurred: Intuitively I think you are right. It may be fun to connect later Savoy music to Thespis, but perhaps it's just an act of desperation on our parts because we want so much to solve the mystery.

It has been a dash of cold water to listen to the various ballet music ascribed to Thespis. On the whole it is rather insignificant and terribly corny and trite. I am sure that Sullivan did much better when he was setting WSG's lyrics.

Jeff DeMarco asked: How about "He yields his life if I'll Yum-Yum surrender?" The melody is straight out of Pirates ("Let us gaily tread the measure"). I suspect this was unintentional - after all, he only had 8 (or is it 12) notes to work with.

Arthur Robinson added: I mentioned my inability to trace some scraps of the music in the RRE recording of Thespis, such as "When mighty Jove" in the Act I finale. Ian Bond e-mailed me privately that Rees told him some unpublished Sullivan music was used, and I now see in Rees p. vii a comment that this reconstructed Thespis score included "a piece of Sullivan's unpublished music ... in the finale to the first act."

5.2.2 Opening Chorus

Bruce I. Miller added a new twist: However, would you say this if "Throughout the night/The constellations..." turned out to have been set to the tune Sullivan later used for "Oh, goddess wise" in Princess Ida?

Ronald Orenstein demurred: Highly unlikely - the prosody is way off. It would have to be:

THE constell-A-tions

and I doubt that Sullivan would have done that.

In 1972 we set it to "Oh love, true love"; in 1993 to "On the heights of Glentoun" from Emerald Isle.

Bruce Miller went on: You're right; Sullivan would not have set it that way. But he *could* have done it like this:Through-OUT the NIGHT (Add a pickup note in the measure before the first downbeat)The [on an existing pickup] CON-stel-LA-tions [marvellous tone painting on the word "Constellations"].I don't see a huge problem with putting "THROUGH-out" on a downbeat. THE certainly would never go on a downbeat in that phrase in any case. "Climbing over Rocky Mountain" is certainly among the finest choruses Sullivan ever wrote. I would not be so quick to assume that there wasn't some extremely fine music in Thespis, which we now can't identify, whether it was lost or reused.The other day I was reminded that Sullivan did much the same thing in the final chorus of The Golden Legend. Although he begins the last section with a fugue subject beginning thus (The first measure has three 1/8th note pick-ups in 3/4 time):The deed di - | VINE is written in | CHAR -acters of | GOLD....And after the fugue concludes, he then goes on slowly, homophonically:The | DEED di - | VINE is | WRIT- | TEN...BUT, the final, closing statement "Maestoso" in 3/4, is written:THE deed di - | VINE, | THE deed di- |VINE shall |THROUGH all |AG - es| BURN and | SHINE...The word "THE" is rather blantantly stated on a heavy downbeat, in a manner similarly broad and majestic as would befit the opening of Thespis.

Note the ascending leap of a perfect fourth in both circumstances; "Throughout" goes from G to C, "The deed" from B flat to E flat, and also that both movements are in the same key - E flat.

Ronald Orenstein remarked: OK, so the guy wasn't perfect. However, I note that he strays from proper prosody only after the piece has gotten going for a while. Gervase Hughes points out a similar slip in Contrabandista, in the Jose/Inez duet in which the first verse goesLet hi DAL-goes be PROUD of their BREED and STRUT.... On the streets of Mad-RIDwhich is dandy, but the repeat of the melody fits the second verse less well:

Let sen-O-ras flash BRIL-liant EYES on the BOLD... matador in the RING...

Bruce Miller countered: You're not really referring to a similar circumstance. Sullivan set the same words differently in The Golden Legend; he wasn't dealing with a second verse. It was simply another, and in his mind perfectly acceptable, way of setting "The deed divine". And observe also that the "clunky" version is at the climax of the movement, and the entire work.

Ronald Orenstein elaborated: My point is that I would expect this sort of error to be far less likely at the opening of a number, at which point the composer has not yet committed himself to a musical structure - so I am still unconvinced about "Oh goddess wise" [aside from the fact that it seems altogether too earnest and heartfelt for the chorus of stars].

Bruce Miller replied: That would all depend on how Gilbert staged it; the earnest quality might have been intended. It certainly was not unknown for Sullivan to write earnestly when humor, irony or whatever was the goal.

Ronald Orenstein observed: Anyway, Sullivan wasn't Stravinsky, who began The Rake’s Progress with:

THE woods are GREEN, AND bird AND beast AT PLAY COM-bine to cele-BRATE this sol-EMN fest-I-val OF May...

Bruce Miller noted: Stravinsky was doing this deliberately, just as he mauled French in Persephone.

Ronald Orenstein agreed: Of course! It's quite perverse, though (PS - I love The Rake's Progress!).

Tom Shepard entered the discussion: I missed your suggestion some weeks ago, but it is identical to my own thoughts that "O Goddess Wise" might easily have been a transmogrified version of the Thespis opening chorus. Obviously there are scansion problems to be adjusted, but I still think it's very possible, especially if the ostinato accompaniment were above the voices rather than below.

Bruce Miller said: I hadn't thought of THAT, which to my mind strengthens the possibility. As to scansion, there are parts of Thespis which seem to fit the melody better than in Princess Ida:"The constellations" seems to work better than "lovest light", for example.He added later: Having just conducted a performance of Sullivan's The Long Day Closes, it struck me forcibly that this particular part-song is filled with examples of Sullivan ignoring the normal metrical rules and putting weak syllables on downbeats in 3/4 time. Examples:-- The opening measures on the words "No star is o'er the lake" are set thusly: | NO star is o'er the | LAKE, Its | PALE watch | KEEP-ing (in the first measure, "NO" is on a quarter note and the rest of themeasure has each syllable on 1/8th notes). If Sullivan was to be scrupulously correct, he would have set it: No STAR is O'ER the LAKE, but for musical reasons he altered the first bar.The next line, by the way, is set "correctly": The | MOON is half a- | WAKE through | GREY mist | CREEP-ing--Verse 2 is similar: | SIT by the silent | HEARTH in | CALM en- | DEAV-or-- Later, | NOW dumb for- | EV-er. | HEED not how hope be- | LIEVES and fate dis- | PO - ses;--Later, | ARE fad-ing | slow-ly.--Later, | GO to the dream-less | BED where | GRIEF re- | PO-ses

The point is that in this famous work Sullivan accents a weak first syllable numerous times, just as he did in The Golden Legend and probably in a number of other examples. In fact, | O God-dess | WISE is a similar to | THROUGH - out the | night...

Ron Orenstein retorted: In spite of this I still feel that (scansion aside) the melody of "O Goddess Wise" is simply too heartfelt and intense for the opening of what was, basically, a glorified burlesque.

[Tom Shepard waxed lyrical: Glorified burlesque or not, I have little doubt that the opening number of Thespis was serious and lyrical, and I have thought for years that with some changes of orchestral registers (like putting the repeated chords high in the woodwinds) "O Goddess Wise" was uncannily appropriate as a setting for "Throughout the Night". I still think so, for what it's worth.]

I'll concede that Bruce has provided a good argument against my suggestion that the Princess Ida melody would be a poor fit to the words - but this is a long way from saying that it is a likely setting for them. You could say the same about a number of other tunes.

In the two Thespis versions I have been involved with we used "Oh love true love" (The Sorcerer) and, in the later version, "On the heights of Glantoun" (The Emerald Isle). Jonathan Strong used the The Gondoliers gavotte (an even less likely choice than "O goddess wise", in my humble opinion); at one point I suggested (as our version was compiling) "Quaff the nectar" (Utopia Limited) as a possible setting.

Philip Sternenberg put in: I think Jonathan made revisions to his version, much as you did to yours. In the performance I saw, the opening chorus used a theme from the opening of Victoria and Merrie England. It's the 3/4 melody in D major that begins (downbeats capitalized):

(1/8 1/8 1/2)

(1/8 1/8 1/2)
(the-huh NIGHT) mi-fa-SO-la-so-MI-re-do-re-MI
(1/8 1/8 1/4 1/4 1/4 1/4 1/4 1/8 1/8 1/2)
(the-huh KAH-hahn-stuh-LAY-shuns ha-have GIVE-)

Can you recognize which melody I'm trying to convey, Ron? Since there aren't any lyrics in the original, this is about the best I can do.

Bruce Miller persisted: Tom just replied with his view, with which I concur, and would like to add that the words "Throughout the night The constellations" is in my opinion an admirable fit to the soaring melody of "O Goddess wise". There is a felicitous bit of tone painting on the word "constellations" if one assumes they were sung on the melisma now used by "lovest light". In this particular instance the word "constellations" seems like an even better fit than the Princess Ida words, which are certainly acceptable but don't really sound as if Sullivan had written the tune for them.The idea of using the gavotte from The Gondoliers for this passage seems like a real mismatch. Sullivan was never quite that vulgar in any other situation of which I'm aware.

The "Oh love, true love" duet from The Sorcerer seems awfully intimate (if not slight) considering the fact that we're dealing with gods and a great heavenly expanse, and there is the fact that separating "Throughout" from "the night" in the melody works less well (by far) than the phrase "Oh love, true love".

Ron Orenstein concluded: Of course we cannot go on mere likelihood if we are seriously claiming, not that a tune fits, but that it WAS the original tune. Barring physical evidence, there must be very strong similarities at key points (as I believe there are between "If you ask me to advise you" (The Rose of Persia) and "You're Diana - I'm Apollo", where the tune even changes mood at the right point to stress a rise in tension in the lyric). To give an example of the pitfalls of doing this: John Huston and I were so struck by the "fit" between the slow movement of the cello concerto and "Here, far away" that we thought we had made a real discovery - until we checked and found that the concerto had been written first! Of course, we still used it for our version..….

Steve Lichtenstein announced: Yesterday I was pondering the question of possible tunes to which Sullivan might have set the Thespis opening chorus, taking it chronologically from Trial By Jury onwards. Though I came up with nothing conclusive (and I don't suppose anyone ever will), I thought of a few possibilities including "Oh love, true love!"):Constance's opening number ("When he is here, I sigh with pleasure"/"Throughout the night, the constellations" works pretty well, I think, at least for the opening line!)

Mabel/Frederic's interchange: "Did ever maiden wake." For this one you have to alter the rhythm a bit (particularly on "Throughout the night"), but it does work quite well -- especially on the line "When midnight gloom falls on all nations," which with that melody is sung in a singular minor key!

Jeff DeMarco mused: Without going in to the question of the "fit" of the music to the text (regarding which I humbly defer to Bruce), I wonder if Sullivan would have really emphasized a "borrowed" tune to the extent he does in the overture to Princess Ida.

Bruce Miller rejoined: Why not? If Sullivan thought enough of it to recycle it, he would have placed it among his better efforts - and it is, after all, Ida's big moment. Most people evidently didn't remember that "Climbing over Rocky Mountain" had been "borrowed" from Thespis when The Pirates of Penzance opened. By 1880 the authors had evidently decided that Thespis was to be retired permanently. Sullivan is known to have recycled a number of musical movements in his career - why not this one?

5.3 Individual Songs

5.3.1 Little Maid of Arcadee

Andrew Crowther requested: Is there a currently available recording of "Little Maid of Arcadee"? I heard it in a G&S concert broadcast on radio ten or more years ago, so I know how it goes; but the recording I made of it seems to have disappeared somewhere along the way.

BTW, I know and am convinced by the arguments saying that "Climbing over Rocky Mountain" was largely rewritten for Pirates. But all the same I can't help a shiver passing down my spine when I listen to it, because it is a genuine, if fragile, link to this first, lost work.... Particularly at the strangely appropriate words, "Though the moments quickly die,/Greet them gaily as they fly!"

Bruce Miller answered: The full piano-vocal score of "Little Maid of Arcadee" is reproduced in GILBERT AND SULLIVAN PRODUCTION (Revised Edition) by Peter Kline (New York: Richards Rosen Press, Inc.. 1972), pp. 263-267. The book is now out of print, but can surely be obtained through Inter-Library loan.

This book is well worth studying if you can find it. Kline's observations throughout are astute, particularly in his analyses of the dramatic values in the operas. It's also helpful to community theater personnel and directors who haven't had extensive experience in G & S. Even those who have had such experience will find nuggets of useful information and insight.

Philip Sternenberg concurred: I agree completely with Bruce's description of this book.Another source for "Arcadee" is SING WITH SULLIVAN (J. B. Cramer, 1977). This is the book that also contains Strephon's and Meryll's cut songs.

5.3.2 Diddlesex Junction

Paul McShane wondered: I thought I read somewhere or other (ages ago) that the precursor to all G&S patter-songs (Thespis's "I once knew a chap who discharged a function on the North South East West Diddlesex Junction") also survived.

Bruce Miller rejoined: What you may be remembering is that Sullivan was supposed to have been asked by a friend for a copy of this musical number (he was interested in how Sullivan orchestrated the railroad train effects) and he is supposed to have given him, or lent to him, a full score of it. Where that ended up, nobody seems to know. Where this reference is, I have forgotten.

Paul McShane added: Thanks - this is probably what I had in mind. I scoured my library this morning for further evidence, and all I could come up with was the reference in the contemporary "Pall Mall Gazette" to Sullivan's extended orchestration of the piece, which included the use of a railway bell, a railway whistle and "some new instrument of music" imitating the agreeable sound of a train in motion.

Would that we could hear it, eh! And what would that "new instrument" have been, I wonder?

Bruce Miller postulated: A sandpaper block, possibly.

Chris Papa mused: When Bruce Montgomery presented his recollections on his restructuring of Thespis, at the 1995 Philly Festival, I had commented from the audience, having seen the show, that the "Diddlesex Junction" song was the show stopper, and asked to know more about its origins, including the staging. As I recall, he said it was a show stopper in the original production [it is reprised in the finale, as well], and that, because of this, there was copious material in the reviews, to give him a very good idea of exactly how it was carried off. On listening to his version, it would be hard to believe that a young Sullivan could have done better. Perhaps people who attended that 1995 session thus came away with the notion that the music had somehow survived. The song, at least, was given a new life.

Ted Rice put in: I think I heard it sung, years ago, but have no idea what the melody was, or who composed it. No reason to suppose it was Sullivan's.

Ronald Orenstein declared: At St Pat's Players we set this to "From rock to rock" from The Contrabandista.

Updated 5 Dec 1997