Opera Scotland

Utopia Limited 2020Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Utopia, Limited

The effects of Coronavirus

It was sadly inevitable that the extended of performances of this new staging, would fall a victim to the burgeoning threat of the Coronavirus pandemic that swept the world during the first quarter of the year.   It was made clear on Monday, 16 March, that all meeting places of any significance - pubs, restaurants, concert halls, theatres and opera houses - would be closed for a significant duration. Not only was the new staging of  A Midsummer Night's Dream cancelled, but also the subsequent productions of The Gondoliers and Utopia Limited.  The concert performances of Cavalleria rusticana and Zingari are also likely to bite the dust.  It is hoped that they will all be revived when the theatres reopen, with luck sooner rather than later.

The original performances were scheduled for Thursday 21/05 at 19.15 in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow;  Friday 12/06 at 19.15 in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and Friday 17/07 at 19.30 in Hackney Empire.


The received opinion of Utopia Limited has always been that it represented a sad falling off in quality by comparison with its immediate predecessor, The Gondoliers.  This is simply inaccurate, though it may be accepted that the final collaboration of Gilbert and Sullivan, The Grand Duke, of 1896, is indeed inferior.

Utopia only followed The Gondoliers in the sense that it was the next G&S piece.  The partners had a notorious falling out in 1890 and while negotiations continued to reunite them, Sullivan worked on his famous grand opera Ivanhoe, which enjoyed a long run in London.  This was followed in 1892 by Haddon Hall, a more romantic comedy than G&S were used to providing.  It had a text by the successful playwright Sydney Grundy.  Gilbert also collaborated on new work with other composers, though less successfully.

As a result of this, when the partnership resumed, Utopia Limited became a more ambitious piece, with a large cast of solo roles and greater demands in terms of sets and costumes.  The targets of Gilbert's satire include most elements of Victorian Britain's establishment - the army, navy, press, law, local government, city traders and the royal family.  While it was initially quite successful, it was expensive to put on, so professional revivals were not undertaken during the 20th century because of the cost.  We are promised a text by the director that will bring the satire up to date.

These three performances at major venues are to feature many of the same singers who appear in the full-scale production of The Gondoliers that runs concurrently.

Scottish Opera's 2019/20 Season

The season opened at the Edinburgh International Festival with the European premiere of Breaking the Waves by Missy Mazzoli. The autumn performances got under way with a visit to the Lammermuir Festival on 20 September with a single performance in concert of an unusual double bill - Mascagni's Zanetto and Wolf-Ferrari's Susanna's Secret. The Glasgow season opens with a welcome revival of Tosca. There is a Sunday afternoon concert of Iris, another rare work by Mascagni. In the New Year there are new productions of Nixon in China by John Adams as well as Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream. and Sullivan's Gondoliers. Further concerts include a pairing of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana with Leoncavallo's Zingari. There are also concert performances of a late Sullivan piece, Utopia, Limited, as well as the usual Opera Highlights tour of the Highlands and Islands.

Performance Cast

Princess Nekaya Second Daughter of King Paramount

Charlie Drummond

Princess Kalyba Youngest Daughter of King Paramount

Sioned Gwen Davies

Scaphio a Judge of the Utopian Supreme Court

Richard Suart

Phantis a Judge of the Utopian Supreme Court

Arthur Bruce

Lady Sophy an English Gouvernante

Sarah Pring

King Paramount the First King of Utopia

Ben McAteer

Princess Zara Eldest Daughter of King Paramount

Ellie Laugharne

Captain FitzBattleaxe First Life Guards

William Morgan

Mr Goldbury a Company Promoter, later Comptroller of Utopian Household

Mark Nathan

Performance DatesUtopia Limited 2020

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