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Ages Ago - Web Opera

by W.S. Gilbert and Frederic Clay


ALL of the Music as MIDI Files
(over 38 min. of music)


The Full Lyrics and Dialogue

[A Welcome]   [Plot Summary]   [Characters]   [The Web Opera]   [Feedback]

Welcome to one of our "Web Operas" This is one of Gilbert's early musical entertainments, Ages Ago, which was first produced at the Royal Gallery of Illustration on November 22, 1869. Ages Ago preceded Ruddigore by about 18 years, but also featured a picture gallery in an old castle and ancestors as ghosts coming out of the frames.

This is the first of four of Gilbert's works for which Frederic Clay provided the music. The others were Happy Arcadia, The Gentleman in Black, and Princess Toto.

This Web Opera includes all the music, lyrics, and dialogue! All you need to enjoy this musical is the ability to listen to midi files on your computer. When used with a midi device -- typically a PC sound card -- MIDI files will play the music through speakers or earphones attached to the device. MIDI files are not recordings as such -- instead, they contain computer code which gives instructions to a sound board to emulate musical instruments. Hence these files contain no voices -- you provide this yourself as you sing-along to the music.

These MIDI files were sequenced by Ronald Orenstein. The Web Opera was designed and created by the late Jim Farron. You can download all of these midi files, and the text version of the libretto, as a zip file.

A new printing of the AGES AGO! vocal score is now available from Scott Farrell. It includes a number of corrections to errors that have remained in the score since its original publication and now the score is available for performing groups.


Sir Ebenezer Tare of the firm of Tare and Tret, Alderman and Tallow Chandler, later Lord Carnaby Poppytop

Rosa (his niece), later Lady Maud

Mrs. MacMotherly, later Dame Cherry Maybud

Mr. Columbus Hebblethwaite, later Sir Cecil Blount

Steward later Brown

Lady Maud de Bohun
Born 1445
Came into possession 1469 (Edward IV)
Painted by Leonardo da Vinci 1472 (Aged 17)
Died 1473 (Louis XI)
Sir Cecil Blount
Born 1540 (Elizabeth I)
Painted by Michael Angelo 1560 (Aged 20)
Came into possession 1569 (Henry II to IV)
Died 1579
Lord Carnaby Poppytop
Born 1648
Came into possession 1669 (Queen Anne)
Painted by Godfrey Kneller 1713 (Aged 65)
Died 1720
Dame Cherry Maybud
Born 1730
Came into possession 1769 (George III)
Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds 1785 (Aged 55)

Rosa — Picture Costume tenth year of Edward IV

Sir Cecil — Picture Costume second year of Elizabeth I

Lord Carnaby — Last year of Queen Anne's reign

Dame Cherry — Twenty-fifth year of George III

Brown — Late 19th century Cockney Dress.

Scene: Picture Gallery in Glen-Cockaleekie Castle.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The numbering of the songs in this Web Opera follows that in the vocal score. The printed libretto does NOT include the songs through number 4, and numbers the song labelled as song 5 below as song 1. Thus, to determine the number given to a song in the printed libretto, subtract 4 from the number assigned to that song below. It is likely that there was additional dialogue accompanying these beginning songs, but if so this is now lost.

No. 1, " Prelude" [15K, 1 min. 51 seconds]

No. 2, Goodbye, Goodbye [10K, 1 min. 3 seconds]

No. 3, When nature sleeps [13K, 2 min. 40 seconds]

No. 4, Eh! What is that ye say [17K, 2 minutes]

»Dialogue (The printed libretto starts here.)

No. 5, Ha! What was that [38K, 6 min. 7 seconds]

No. 6, It does perplex, annoy and vex [20K, 2 min. 12 seconds]


No. 7, We fly to fields of fancy [18K, 2 min. 56 seconds]

No. 8, Entr'acte and Recit: I breathe, I live [11K, 1 min. 38 seconds]

No. 9, Moments so fleeting [12K, 2 min. 48 seconds]


No. 10, Would you know that maiden fair [29K, 4 min. 24 seconds]


No. 11, In pity tell, O Lady mine [14K, 2 min. 43 seconds]


No. 12, I stand on my authority [20K, 2 min. 20 seconds]


No. 13, At twenty-three Lord Carnaby [13K, 1 min. 24 seconds]


No. 14, 'Tis Done, the spell is broken [16K, 2 min. 2 seconds]


No. 15, The subject drop (Finale) [11K, 1 min. 13 seconds]

Send your comments on this Web Opera, or any other aspect of the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, to the Curator,
Paul Howarth, at

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Page Modified August 23, 2011