Princess Ida

by WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

Performances will be March 16, 17, 18 (mat), 23, 24 (mat and eve), 2007
Rehearsals will begin January 3, 2007 and are generally Mondays and Wednesdays with some Saturdays.

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Princess Ida premiered in 1884,after Iolanthe and before The Mikado. It contains some of Sullivan's richest music and a number of extremely clever sections of Gilbertian dialog. Unlike many of the surrounding operas, Princess Ida is not a direct political satire, although there are plenty of satiric comments throughout.

The story takes place in 3 acts: the outer 2 are less than 30 minutes each, and the middle act just under an hour. Overall, Princess Ida is thus about the same length as Iolanthe, although there is about 5 more minutes for the leads and 5 minutes less for the choruses.

In Act I, we meet King Hildebrand and his son Hilarion, who was married to King Gama's daughter, Ida 20 years earlier when they were 1and 2 years of age. The two kingdoms are on the verge of war because Gama has apparently refused to deliver his daughter to become Hilarion's wife. In fact, Ida has taken a set of women to a remote castle and begun a women's university. Hilarion and his two friends Cyril and Florian set out to "conquer" Ida, preferably through their masculine attractiveness.

In Act II we learn that Ida has renounced men and that her university is entirely female. Cyril, Hilarion and Florian sneak in, disguising themselves in women's academic robes and pretend to be new female initiates. At lunch, Cyril becomes tipsy and sings a drinking song, making it clear that they are in fact men in disguise. Ida has them seized, but as she declaims against their invasion, she falls in the river, and is saved by Hilarion, who has been falling in love with her, even though he realizes that she may put him to death. In response to her binding him and her threats, he declares his love for her. Before she can respond, King Hildebrand's army storms the walls and the act ends with a defiant confrontation between Ida's army and Hildebrand's.

In Act III, Ida learns that her women troops are fearful of actually fighting this large army and then that her father, King Gama, has been "tortured" by King Hildebrand, who has happily given him everything he asks for, so he has "nothing whatever to grumble at." After singing a plaintive solo, "I Built Upon a Rock," she yields just in time for the battle to begin. The Three Princes (Cyril, Hilarion and Florian) defeat Gama's sons: Arac, Scynthius and Guron. Ida surrenders and offers herself to the victor, but Hilarion refuses to take her as a prize and instead appeals for her love, which she tentatively accepts. (summary enhanced by that from Gayden Wren's book, see below)

Download Full Vocal Score

Princess Ida.pdf -- This is a new edition (beta-14), Revised June 26, 2007 prepared by Jim Cooper, especially for Troupers.

Download the original Finale score files

Cumulative errata list since beta-5.

You can also order a complete bound version here.


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Characters in Princess Ida

Character voice part who they are audition piece
Cyril comic tenor Hilarion's friend 19. Would you know the kind of maid
Hilarion tenor, the hero married to Ida at age 2 3. Ida was a twelve month old
"Whom thou hast chained" p. 140
Florian baritone Hilarion's friend "I am a maiden" p. 90
King Hildebrand baritone Hilarion's father "Some years ago" p. 149
King Gama comic baritone Ida's father 6. If you give me your attention
22. Whene'er I spoke
Arac baritone Gama's dimwitted sons 25. This helmet I suppose
Scynthius bass baritone
Guron bass baritone
Ida dramatic soprano Gama's daughter 23. I built upon a rock
10. Minerva
Lady Blanche contralto Professor of Abstract Science 11. Come Mighty Must!
Lady Psyche soprano Professor of Humanities 15. A Lady Fair
Melissa light mezzo Lady Blanche's daughter 21. Death to the invader
Saccharissa soprano student
Chloe, Ada students; speaking roles