The Yeomen of the Gurad


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Costume design by Percy Anderson, 1919

The Yeomen of the Guard
, or The Merryman and His Maid, opened October 3, 1888, at the Savoy Theatre and ran for 423 performances. It is different from the other Gilbert and Sullivan operas in that it ends with a broken-hearted main character and at least two reluctant engagements, rather than the usual plethora of happy marriages. However, Gilbert finds plenty of opportunity to introduce comedy into his libretto.

Many believe that the score is Sullivan's finest. Indeed, some enjoy Yeomen particularly because of its ever-changing emotional balance of joy and despair, love and sacrifice.

The setting of Yeomen is the Tower of London in the sixteenth century. The plot concerns Colonel Fairfax, a gentleman, soldier and scientist, who has been sentenced to death on a false charge of sorcery. To avoid leaving his estate to his accuser (a cousin), and with the help of the Lieutenant of the Tower, Fairfax secretly marries Elsie Maynard, a strolling singer. The bride agrees to be blindfolded during the ceremony and expects to be a well-paid widow within the hour. With the help of the Meryll family, Fairfax escapes, throwing the Tower into confusion and the astonished Elsie (and her companion, the jester Jack Point, who is in love with her) into despair. But Fairfax, disguised as Leonard Meryll, woos Elsie, and after a number of plot complications are worked out, she falls in love with Fairfax and leaves Jack Point broken-hearted.



Costume design for Fairfax by Percy Anderson, 1919
  • Marc Shepherd's The Yeomen of the Guard Discography
  • Download a Vocal Score. [8.5Mb] A complete vocal score is available. Act I, No. 5 ("I have a song to sing, O!) is given both in its original key (D major) and in the key which Sullivan probably authorised for the 1897 revival (E flat major). It includes both the cut songs, the couplets for the 3rd and 4th Yeomen in the Act I finale, the lines for Elsie and Point in the Act I finale omitted in modern scores. These can simply be omitted if desired. The original lines for Elsie, Kate and Dame Carruthers from the Act II Finale as an appendix. Please do not put copies of the PDF file on other websites.
  • IMSLP have the Kalmus band parts and the Chappell Vocal Score (c. 1920) available as PDF files.
  • Other sources of The Yeomen of the Guard Scores
  • Errata List, G. Schirmer Piano-Vocal Score, submitted to the Archive by Steven Lichtenstein.
  • Dance Arrangements
  • Orchestral MIDI Files sequenced by George Pollen
  • Phoebe's Solos — The Kalmus orchestral parts have Phœbe's two solos both in their original keys and transposed up one tone. The vocal score only provides them only in the original key. If a soprano is cast as Phœbe, then these two transpositions by Larry Byler would be useful:
  • Two Cut Songs — MIDI Files and Vocal Scores
  • Act 1 Finale — Gilbert and Sullivan originally intended the couplets for the First and Second Yeomen to be followed by couplets for two other Yeomen. These were cut before the first night, but published in early vocal scores. Andi Stryker-Rodda has scanned the music for this lost section of the Act 1 Finale from an early score. [PDF File, 384KB].
    Alternatively, Larry Byler has transcribed this passage so that it neatly replaces pages 103 to 106 of the Schirmer score. [PDF File, 56KB]
  • 1928 D'Oyly Carte Recording (at the Internet Archive)
  • 1950 D'Oyly Carte Recording (at the Internet Archive)
  • Musical Solutions — G&S MIDI Rehearsal Files — David Cookson's site includes MIDI rehearsal files for all the G&S Operas, plus Cox and Box and Haddon Hall.

To the Web Opera

Another in our very popular series of Web Operas, containing all the music from the opera as MIDI files, along with the full lyrics and dialogue and many pictures of D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Productions.

Act II costume for Jack Point by Percy Anderson, 1919
Jack Point



Savoynet Discussion — Transcript of a discussion of The Yeomen of the Guard by members of the SavoyNet distribution list (May 1997). This extensive discussion provides substantial background information on this opera, and is a must for anyone wanting to understand it better, produce it, or perform in it.

From Maritana to Yeomen. An examination of Wallace, his bizarre life, and his opera which was the inspiration for The Yeomen of the Guard by Michael Walters.

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Page modified 14 May 2015