Opera Scotland

Patience or Bunthorne's Bride

Music
Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (born London, 13 May 1842; died London, 22 November 1900)

Text
W S Gilbert.

Source
Original, including elements from Gilbert's Bab Ballad The Rival Curates.

Premieres
First performance: London (Opéra-Comique), 23 April 1881.
First performance in Scotland: To be confirmed. (toured 1881)
Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

Background
Patience was a great success on opening in London, but when it transferred to New York, D’Oyly Carte assisted the Americans to get the point of the joke against the Aesthetic Movement by sending another of his clients, Oscar Wilde, on a tour of the continent. Wilde’s lectures on topics such as “The House Beautiful” were also successful when he toured Scotland. It has always been recognised as a strong piece musically, but by the 1960s, Patience was widely considered to have had its day. The copyright on Gilbert expired in 1962 (Sullivan’s music had been available for a decade already), and Sadler’s Wells immediately mounted a successful staging of The Mikado (rather more conventionally than their second version produced by Jonathan Miller). The follow-up was an equally successful rendering of Iolanthe. It was seen as a risky venture when their third G & S staging, and the first to open after the move to the enormous Coliseum, was announced to be the supposedly moribund Patience. However this staging was a delightful and surprising success, with John Cox and his designer John Stoddart producing what still seems like a definitive account of the work.

Main Characters
Lady Jane (contralto)
Lady Angela (mezzo-soprano)
Reginald Bunthorne, a fleshly poet (baritone)
Patience, a dairymaid (soprano)
Colonel Calverley (bass)
Lieutenant the Duke of Dunstable (tenor)
Archibald Grosvenor, an idyllic poet (baritone)

Plot Summary
Castle Bunthorne is besieged by a group of rapturous maidens who love the resident poet. However he loves Patience, a naïve and innocent milkmaid, who is indifferent to him. The Dragoon Guards arrive and are horrified to discover that the ladies who loved them last year now look elsewhere. Patience is diverted by the arrival of her childhood sweetheart, Grosvenor, himself now a poet of a different tradition. Bunthorne, frustrated at the loss of his love, puts himself up to be raffled for (proceeds to charity, of course). The officers, determined to regain the affection of the ladies, adopt a poetic pose, and the ladies are impressed by the apparent self-sacrifice this entails. As things eventually work out, the one male character left without a bride is Bunthorne.

The Cast

Archibald Grosvenor
 an Idyllic Poet
Colonel Calverley
 an Officer of Dragoon Guards
Lady Angela
 a rapturous maiden
Lady Ella
 a rapturous maiden
Lady Jane
 a rapturous maiden
Lady Saphir
 a rapturous maiden
Lieutenant The Duke of Dunstable
 an Officer of Dragoon Guards
Major Murgatroyd
 an Officer of Dragoon Guards
Mr Bunthorne's Solicitor
 
Patience
 a Dairy Maid
Reginald Bunthorne
 a Fleshly Poet

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