Opera Scotland

Beauty Stone The Beauty Stone

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


Arthur Wing Pinero and J Comyns Carr.



First Performance: London (Savoy Theatre), 28 May 1898.



The Beauty Stone is the second last operatic work to be completed by Sullivan - only The Rose of Persia and unfinished The Emerald Isle to follow. In spite of a substantial contribution to the libretto (the plot and dialogue) by Pinero, one of the most successful playwrights of the day, it was not considered a success and had a very short run. It is a bit of a hybrid, with a few elements of traditional Savoy-style comedy, but with more than a hint of the mediaeval romantic content that was visible in Ivanhoe.  Sullivan's own description, when interviewed in the Daily Mail, reveals his aim - 'It is a serious, earnest, romantic drama. I don't mean to say there is no humour in the piece, but there are no comic songs or numbers in the acceptation of the term.' The Devil is an essentially comic character who appears in disguise both as a friar and as an Italian nobleman.



Philip, Lord of Mirlemont (tenor)

Guntran of Beaugrant (bass)

Simon Limal, a weaver (baritone)

Nicholas Dircks, Burgomaster of Mirlemont (bass)

The Devil (tenor)

Laine, the weaver's daughter (soprano)

Joan, the weaver's wife (mezzo-soprano)

Jacqueline (mezzo-soprano)

Loyse, from St Denis, a contestant (mezzo-soprano)

Saida, Lord Philip's mistress (soprano)


Plot Summary

Set in mediaeval Flanders (Mirlemont 1408), the plot concerns a pebble, provided by the Devil, that changes people who are naturally unattractive into beauties. However he is aware tyhat the 'Beauty Stone' always returns to him in the end.

Laine is young, but unattractive and crippled. When her parents go out to watch a beauty contest, she is left alone and wishes someone would love her. The Devil appears and gives her the stone. Rendered beautiful she finds the result unsatisfactory. When she rejects the stone it is used by her mother, who becomes a handsome young man. He also realises this is not what he wants, and the next recipient is Saida, Lord Philip's mistress. However when he returns from the wars he has been blinded and now rejects Saida as he sees through her character. He marries Laine, falling for her fine singing voice and recognising her excellent character. As he cannot see, her appearance and disabilities are of no concern.

The Cast

 from Bovigny
Guntran of Beaugrant
 from Florennes
 the Weaver's wife
 the Weaver's daughter
 from St Denis
Nicholas Dircks
 Burgomaster of Mirlemont
 Lord of Mirlemont
Simon Limal
 a Weaver

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