Opera Scotland

Haddon Hall

Music

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

Text

Sydney Grundy (1848-1914).

 

Premieres

First Performance: London (Savoy Theatre), 24 September 1892.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Royalty Theatre), 26 December 1892.

 

Background

After the success of The Gondoliers was somewhat soured by the infamous 'carpet quarrel' resulting in a serious schism between Gilbert on the one hand and Sullivan and Carte on the other, a period elapsed when the work of other authors was produced at the Savoy. At last, while Gilbert's estrangement continued, Sullivan was lured back to work there following the success of his grand opera Ivanhoe. His collaborator this time was one of the most popular and successful playwrights of the day, Sydney Grundy. He was particularly noted for adapting French comedies for the British stage, and his most prominent work of this type, A Pair of Spectacles, had enjoyed a successful London run as recently as 1890. His work has not been performed much since his death.

Haddon Hall is a romantic opera, rather than a purely comic one - of the mainstream Gilbert and Sullivan works, its closest companion in style is perhaps Princess Ida, though there are also similarities to parts of Utopia Limited, which followed it. The episode of Dorothy Vernon's elopement was a story originating in the sixteenth century, and Grundy updated it by a hundred years to allow his satirical treatment of the puritans to provide much of the comedy. It seems that even Scottish audiences enjoyed the antics of the M'Crankie.

 

Main Characters

Sir George Vernon, a Royalist sympathiser (bass-baritone)

Lady Vernon, his wife (contralto)

Dorothy, their daughter (soprano)

Dorcas, Dorothy's maid (mezzo-soprano)

Rupert Vernon, Sir George's cousin, a Puritan (baritone)

Sir John Manners, an exiled Cavalier (tenor)

Oswald, his servant (tenor)

The M'Crankie, a Presbyterian from the Isle of 'Rum' (tenor)

 

Plot Summary

The opera is set in the house and grounds of Haddon Hall in Derbyshire at the end of the Cromwellian period (c1660). Sir George has, with difficulty, hung on to his estate, but the assets are about to be seized by his cousin, who is in favour with the government. Sir George's plan to rescue the family fortunes depends on his daughter marrying the cousin, Rupert, and he and some influential puritan associates are coming to the hall to complete the deal. Dorothy and her mother are both opposed to the scheme, since Dorothy loves, and is loved by, Sir John Manners, who has been exiled. Oswald, his servant, comes, disguised as an itinerant pedlar, and is able to pass on news of his master's approach. The denouement is reached, following the elopement of Dorothy and John, when the Restoration of the monarchy ensures Sir George's rightful title is restored, and all ends happily, except for the puritans. They have been shown to be hypocritical, hard-drinking womanisers, (even if they are treated to generally comical effect).

The Cast

Dorcas
 Dorothy's maid
Dorothy Vernon
 
Lady Vernon
 
Oswald
 Sir John's servant
Rupert Vernon
 Dorothy's cousin, a Roundhead
Sir George Vernon
 a Royalist
Sir John Manners
 a Royalist
The McCrankie
 a Puritan

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