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This play with music enjoyed a good run at the Olympic Theatre, where it opened January 8, 1870. In 1883, Gilbert adapted this work to the needs of The Savoy Theatre, where it became Princess Ida. The spoken dialogue of The Princess and Princess Ida is essentially identical — only the songs were changed. Thus, while Princess Ida is midway in the list of Gilbert and Sullivan Operas, it is actually one of Gilbert's earliest works.

Gilbert's The Princess was based on Tennyson's poem of the same name, which was published in 1847. Essentially, the plot of Tennyson's The Princess is as follows:

  • A beautiful maiden has locked herself away in a remote retreat, where she refuses to have anything to do with the world of men.
  • The sancity of the retreat is violated by male intruders.
  • The arrival of the men causes chaos and panic.
  • The maiden eventually yields, and comes to love the chief male intruder.

This plot is carried through faithfully in Gilbert's The Princess, although with variations which are Gilbert's own. David Fidler made a detailed comparison of Tennyson's original with the libretto of Princess Ida.

Cast of the production at the Olympic Theatre.

Review of the production at the Olympic Theatre from The Times.


The web version of Gilbert's The Princess was created by Steve Sullivan from the libretto that was submitted to the Archive by Harriet Meyer.

Gilbert's The Princess is also available in the following formats:

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Page modified 12 August, 2011