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Text from pages 3 and 4
A Souvenir of the new presentation of
by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
SADLERS WELLS THEATRE LONDON
Season from 20th December, 1971 to 12th February, 1972
Production by Michael Heyland
With settings and costumes designed by OSBERT LLANCASTER, C.B.E.
Choreography by VIRGINIA MASON
ALMOST a hundred sears ago the successful Presentation of Trial by Jury at the Royalty Theatre inspired Mr. Richard D'Oyly Carte, who was then the Manager of the theatre, seriously to consider the possibility of forming his own Comedy Opera Company. His idea was not simply the promotion of Gilbert and Sullivan, but to establish a theatre in London with a staple repertory of light opera by English authors and composers.
Early in 1877 when Mr, Carte was still looking
for further capital for his venture, he said in his prospectus that
he intended in the first in
stance, to produce a new opera comique by
Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan which he, the
The two-act piece in question was The Sorcerer, the plot of which Gilbert had adapted from a short story (entitled An Elixir of Love), which he had written for The Graphic. The action takes place in the garden of Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre's country mansion, where the villagers of Ploverleigh have been invited to celebrate the betrothal of Alexis, Sir Marmaduke's son, to the daughter of Lady Sangazure, whose family is so old that it goes back in direct descent to Helen of Troy.
Alexis believes that love can, and should, level all ranks and social distinctions, and since he is happy in his own love, he wants all the people who have gathered to celebrate his betrothal to be equally happy. With this end in view, Alexis has contrived with Mr. Wells of the London firm of J. W. Wells & Co., family sorcerers, secretly to concoct a special brew of tea to be served at the garden party. This brew to contain a magic love-philtre that will cause any two persons of opposite sexes, regardless of age, social or economic differences, to fall desperately in love with each other.
The matter of a suitable theatre for his new company had given Mr. Carte considerable difficulty, but eventually he leased the Opera Comique, which was described in The Times as "the pretty theatre in the Strand where English opera under the auspices of Mr. D'Oyly Carte has found a congenial home."
The original production of The Sorcerer took
place in this theatre on the 17th November, 1877
under the personal direction of the authors. The
The Sorcerer was last performed by The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company at Sadler's Wells Theatre before the war, but during the blitz on London in 1940 the scenery and costumes of this production were destroyed.
The production which Miss Bridget D'Oyly Carte now presents opened on Monday, March 29th, 1971 at the Opera House, Manchester. It was produced by Michael Heyland, with new scenery and costumes designed by Osbert Lancaster.
Mr. Heyland sees J. W. Wells as a "slick, fast talking East End tradesman set against the simple and gay villagers in this bright rustic setting". He says: "I have enjoyed giving as much colour as possible to the contrasting characters in their different classes and the music helps to illustrate these levels. While Sir Marmaduke and Lady Sangazure enjoy their out of date gavotte, their children Alexis and Aline romantically sing through the popular waltzes of the day, and J. W. Wells brings them down to earth with his patter song, nostalgic of Music Halls and minstrel entertainment."
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Page modified 3 Feb. 2014.
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