Musical (1887)

Musique: Arthur Sullivan
Livret: W.S. Gilbert
Production à la création:

"Ruddigore" est la 10e collaboration entre Gilbert et Sullivan. L'"opéra surnaturel" ouvrit ses portes le 21 janvier 1887 au Théâtre de Savoie et donna 288 représentations. Il ne fut repris qu’en 1920 quand il fut substantiellement coupé et pourvu d’une nouvelle ouverture arrangée par Geoffrey Toye.
L’opéra est une parodie du mélodrame populaire — le méchant qui emporte la jeune fille; l’héroïne, pauvre mais vertueuse, aux bonnes manières; le héros déguisé et son fidèle serviteur qui rêve de ses jours glorieux; le serpent dans l’herbe qui prétend suivre son cœur; la jeune fille folle et sauvage; le fanfaron du patriotisme dévoreur de feu; les fantômes qui viennent à la vie pour imposer une malédiction; et ainsi de suite. Mais comme l’a noté un critique, Gilbert renverse les absolus moraux du mélodrame : "Le bien devient mauvais, le mal devient bon, et les héros prennent le chemin de la facilité."

Les baronnets de Ruddigore sont maudits. Quiconque accède à ce titre doit commettre un crime tous les jours - ou périr dans une agonie inconcevable.
Robin Oakapple, un jeune fermier aime Rose Maybud, mais les deux sont trop timides pour se l'avouer l'un à l’autre. Mais Robin a un secret. Il est en réalité Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, le légitime baronnet de Ruddigore, déguisé. Son frère cadet, Despard, croyant Ruthven mort, a pris le titre. Le frère adoptif de Robin, Richard, cherchant à séduire Rose, raconte à Despard la tromperie de Robin, et Robin est forcé d’assumer son vrai statut, abandonnant Rose à Richard dans le processus.
Redevenu baronnet de Ruddigore, Robin est confronté aux fantômes de ses ancêtres qui s’éloignent de leurs cadres dans la galerie du château de Ruddigore pour le confronter pour ne pas avoir commis consciencieusement son crime quotidien. Robin finit par trouver un moyen de satisfaire les exigences de ses ancêtres tout en continuant à vivre une vie irréprochable…

Synopsis complet

After The Mikado opened in 1885, Gilbert, as usual, promptly turned his thoughts to finding a subject for a next opera. Some of the plot elements of Ruddigore had been introduced by Gilbert in his earlier one-act opera, Ages Ago (1869), including the tale of the wicked ancestor and the device of the ancestors stepping out of their portraits. Heinrich Marschner's 1828 opera, Der Vampyr, involves a Lord Ruthven who must abduct and sacrifice three maidens or die. Locals claim that the Murgatroyd ancestors in Ruddigore are based on the Murgatroyd family of East Riddlesden Hall, West Yorkshire. According to his biographers, Sidney Dark and Rowland Grey, Gilbert also drew on some of his earlier verse, the Bab Ballads, for some plot elements. The song "I know a youth who loves a little maid," can be traced back to the Bab Ballad "The Modest Couple", in which the very shy and proper Peter and Sarah are betrothed but are reluctant to shake hands or sit side by side. Sir Roderic's Act II song "When the night wind howls" had its forerunner in one of Gilbert's verses published in Fun magazine in 1869:

Fair phantom, come! The moon's awake,
The owl hoots gaily from its brake,
The blithesome bat's a-wing.
Come, soar to yonder silent clouds;
The ether teems with peopled shrouds:
We’ll fly the lightsome spectre crowds,
Thou cloudy, clammy thing![5][6]

The opera also includes and parodies elements of melodrama, popular at the Adelphi Theatre. There is a priggishly good-mannered poor-but-virtuous heroine, a villain who carries off the maiden, a hero in disguise and his faithful old retainer who dreams of their former glory days, the snake-in-the-grass sailor who claims to be following his heart, the wild, mad girl, the swagger of fire-eating patriotism, ghosts coming to life to enforce a family curse, and so forth. But Gilbert, in his customary topsy-turvy fashion, turns the moral absolutes of melodrama upside down: The hero becomes evil, the villain becomes good, and the virtuous maiden changes fiancés at the drop of a hat. The ghosts come back to life, foiling the curse, and all ends happily.

Sullivan delayed in setting Ruddigore to music through most of 1886. He had committed to a heavy conducting schedule and to compose a cantata, The Golden Legend, for the triennial Leeds Music Festival in October 1886. He also was squiring Fanny Ronalds to numerous social functions. Fortunately, The Mikado was still playing strongly, and Sullivan prevailed on Gilbert to delay production of Ruddigore. He got down to business in early November, however, and rehearsals began in December. During the Act II ghost scene, it would be impossible for the cast to see Sullivan's baton when the stage was darkened for the Ancestors' reincarnation. A technological solution was found: Sullivan used a glass tube baton containing a platinum wire that glowed a dull red.

The opera encountered some criticism from audiences at its opening on 22 January 1887, and one critic wondered if the libretto showed "signs of the failing powers of the author". After a run shorter than any of the earlier Gilbert and Sullivan operas premiered at the Savoy except Princess Ida, Ruddigore closed in November 1887 to make way for a revival of H.M.S. Pinafore. To allow the revival of the earlier work to be prepared at the Savoy, the last two performances of Ruddigore were given at the Crystal Palace, on 8 and 9 November. It was not revived in the lifetimes of the composer or author.

Original Overture (arranged by Hamilton Clarke, includes "I once was as meek", "Oh, why am I moody and sad?", "Welcome, gentry", "The battle's roar is over" and "When a man has been a naughty Baronet")
Revised Overture (arranged by Geoffrey Toye, 1920; includes "I once was as meek", "When the night wind howls", "I know a youth", "My eyes are fully open", "I shipped, d'ye see" and Hornpipe)

Acte I

Courtice Pounds as Richard in the original New York production (1887)
Courtice Pounds as Richard in the original New York production (1887)
1. "Fair is Rose" (Chorus of Bridesmaids)
2. "Sir Rupert Murgatroyd" (Hannah and Chorus)
3. "If somebody there chanced to be" (Rose)
4. "I know a youth" (Rose and Robin)
5. "From the briny sea" (Chorus of Bridesmaids)
6. "I shipp'd, d'ye see, in a revenue sloop" (Richard and Chorus)
6a. Hornpipe
7. "My boy, you may take it from me" (Robin and Richard)
8. "The battle's roar is over" (Rose and Richard)
9. "If well his suit has sped" (Chorus of Bridesmaids)
10. "In sailing o'er life's ocean wide" (Rose, Richard, and Robin)
11. "Cheerily carols the lark" (Margaret)
12. "Welcome, gentry" (Double Chorus)
13. "Oh, why am I moody and sad?" (Sir Despard and Chorus)
14. "You understand? I think I do" (Richard and Sir Despard)
15. Finale Act I
"Hail the bride of seventeen summers" (Ensemble)
Madrigal, "When the buds are blossoming" (Ensemble)
"When I'm a bad Bart, I will tell taradiddles!" (Robin and Chorus)
"Oh, happy the lily" (Ensemble)

Acte II

16. "I once was as meek" (Sir Ruthven and Adam)
17. "Happily coupled are we" (Rose and Richard)
18. "In bygone days" (Rose with Chorus of Bridesmaids)
19. "Painted emblems of a race" (Sir Ruthven, Sir Roderic, and Chorus of Ancestors)
20. "When the night wind howls" (Sir Roderic and Chorus)
21. "He yields, he yields" (Chorus)
22. (original) "Away, remorse!" ... "For thirty-five years I've been sober and wary" (Robin)
22. (replaced) "Away, remorse!" ... "Henceforth all the crimes" (Robin) (The original song was replaced about a week into the original run. For the history of this number, see Versions.)
23. "I once was a very abandoned person" (Margaret and Despard)
24. "My eyes are fully open" (Margaret, Sir Ruthven, and Despard)
25. "Melodrame"
26. "There grew a little flower" (Hannah with Sir Roderic)
27. Finale Act II (Ensemble)
"When a man has been a naughty baronet"
"For happy the lily" (reprise) (Ensemble)


Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd Disguised as Robin Oakapple, a Young Farmer (comic baritone)
Richard Dauntless His Foster-Brother – A Man-o'-war's-man (tenor)
Sir Despard Murgatroyd of Ruddigore, A Wicked Baronet (bass-baritone or baritone)
Richard, Rose and Robin
Richard, Rose and Robin
Old Adam Goodheart Robin's Faithful Servant (bass)
Rose Maybud A Village Maiden (soprano)
Mad Margaret (mezzo-soprano)
Dame Hannah Rose's Aunt (contralto)
Zorah Professional Bridesmaid (soprano)
Ruth Professional Bridesmaid (speaking/chorus)
Chorus of Professional Bridesmaids, Villagers, Bucks and Blades


Sir Rupert Murgatroyd The First Baronet
Sir Jasper Murgatroyd The Third Baronet
Sir Lionel Murgatroyd The Sixth Baronet
Sir Conrad Murgatroyd The Twelfth Baronet
Sir Desmond Murgatroyd The Sixteenth Baronet
Sir Gilbert Murgatroyd The Eighteenth Baronet
Sir Mervyn Murgatroyd The Twentieth Baronet
Sir Roderic Murgatroyd The Twenty-first Baronet (bass-baritone)
Chorus of Ancestors

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