Opera Scotland

Gondoliers The Gondoliers, or The King of Barataria

Music

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

Text

W S Gilbert.

Source

Original.

 

Premières

First performance: London (Savoy Theatre), 7 December 1889.

First performance in Scotland: To be confirmed (toured 1890).

Scottish Opera première: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 12 December 1968.

 

Background

The Gondoliers appears to have somewhat declined in popularity in recent decades, having once been more highly regarded than any other of the partners’ work. Sullivan’s music is extremely tuneful, lively and attractive, with clear Italian and Spanish influences. Gilbert’s political satire is sharper than before, and the re-use of one or two plot devices from earlier works is only a small drawback.

 

Main Characters

Duke of Plaza-Toro (baritone)

Luiz (tenor)

Don Alhambra del Bolero (bass-baritone)

Marco Palmieri (tenor)

Giuseppe Palmieri (baritone)

Duchess of Plaza-Toro (contralto)

Casilda (soprano)

Gianetta (soprano)

Tessa (mezzo-soprano)

 

Plot Summary

Marco and Giuseppe, two gondoliers with strong republican sympathies, have become engaged to their sweethearts, Gianetta and Tessa, by means of a carefully rigged game of blind man’s buff. An impoverished Spanish grandee arrives with his Duchess, their daughter Casilda and their entourage – a drummer named Luiz. In infancy, Casilda was married to the infant King of Barataria, and they have come to Venice to discover his whereabouts from the Grand Inquisitor, Don Alhambra. It is known that the infant was saved from a revolution by being sent to Venice. Don Alhambra explains that the King was fostered by an old gondolier, who had a tendency to drink, and is therefore one of the supposed brothers Marco and Giuseppe, but he does not know which. Their old nurse, Inez, who is Luiz’s mother, will reveal all. She currently lives in the mountains of Spain with a group of bandits, but she will be sent for. The gondoliers and their friends leave Venice, their womenfolk, and their republican beliefs behind, and sail for Barataria. Once installed, jointly, on the throne, they lead a life of drudgery, doing all the work on behalf of their courtiers. They also miss their girls dreadfully, so are very relieved when they turn up. Don Alhambra also comes with the Duke of Plaza-Toro and followers. At this point the gondoliers discover that one of them is married to Casilda, causing great misery. Luiz and Casilda, also in love, are equally unhappy. When Inez eventually appears, she reveals that to protect the king during the revolution, she had swapped him with her own baby before that child was sent to Venice, and that Luiz is therefore the true king, and already married to Casilda.

The Cast

Annibale
 
Antonio
 a gondolier
Casilda
 daughter of the Duke and Duchess
Don Alhambra del Bolero
 the Grand Inquisitor
Duchess of Plaza-Toro
 
Duke of Plaza-Toro
 a Grandee of Spain
Fiametta
 a contadina
Francesco
 a gondolier
Gianetta
 a Contadina
Giorgio
 a gondolier
Giulia
 a contadina
Giuseppe Palmieri
 a Venetian Gondolier
Inez
 the King's Foster-mother
Luiz
 the Duke's Attendant
Marco Palmieri
 a Venetian Gondolier
Tessa
 a Contadina
Vittoria
 a contadina

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