Opera Scotland

Ruddigore 1922D'Oyly Carte Opera Company

Read more about the opera Ruddigore

Although the original production of 1887 had toured widely, there was a sense in the D'Oyly Carte management that the piece contained several faults which could be improved upon.   The work was put to one side until the original trio were dead.   Under the management of Rupert D'Oyly Carte the decision was made to carry out a radical revision.   The work was entrusted to Geoffrey Toye, and the changes made were substantial.

The ''folk memory'' decreed that this must be a great improvement.   It allowed the Ruddigore th be taken into the tepertoire and to be recorded.   Several extracts, particularly ''The Ghost's High Noon,'' as performed by Darrell Fancourt, became popular hits.

It must have been strange for Henry Lytton to revisit a part which he hd sung on the tour in 1887.  Perhaps he missed his wonderful patter song, ''Henceforth all the crimes that I find in the Times,'' - a wonderful solo only revived in the 21st century.

In recent years, new stagings, first by Kent Opera, then by Opera North, have returned to the original text and generally found it to be much better than expected.

Details of other Scottish venues are to be confirmed.


The Dundee Review

Dundee Advertiser: Thursday, 21 December 1922    p3

Introduced to Ruddigore - New Savoy Opera for Dundee

'Dundee had something new in Gilbert and Sullivan opera last night, when the D’Oyly Carte Company staged Ruddigore. It was a novel experience, for the attitude of mind of the audience was not that they were having a repetition of a past delight, but that here was a new delight created yesterday by the great collaborators. This is the first time the opera has been staged in the city.

'The plot is a bit more intricate than the usual opera. Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, Baronet of Ruddigore, was roasting a witch on the village green. The simple outcome is a curse upon all the Murgatroyds to commit one crime a day or die a death of agony. The twenty-second Baronet, Sir Ruthven, runs away from the curse, and, disguised as a farmer, is about to marry Rose Maybud, the village belle. The haggard owner of the Murgatroyd title, “moody and sad, and guiltily mad” with his daily crime, is faced by the discovery of Sir Ruthven’s real identity. Sir Ruthven loses his bride, takes the title, is tortured by his ghostly forefathers for being all manners of poltroons by being afraid to commit a sanguinary enough daily crime. The terrible dilemma ends happily by the usual ingeniously Gilbertian methods. Sir Ruthven escapes, and marries his bride by pointing out to the ghost of his immediate ancestor that a Baronet of Ruddigore can only die by failing to commit a daily crime; therefore such a refusal is tantamount to suicide; but, since suicide is a crime, then he wasn’t dead at all.

'Compared with the more popular of the operas, there is perhaps not so much action or vitality, but it contains many sparkling gems of minstrelsy, and discovers Gilbert as merrily picking holes in the tinsel of convention as in any of his librettos. There is probably more in the staging and lighting than in some of the other operas. In the first act, while extraordinarily effective, there are not so many obvious difficulties as in the second, which represents the picture gallery of Ruddigore, with a pale, watery light playing about a high-vaulted roof. Here are the wall paintings from which step the reincarnated fathers of the house. The mounting of this act was wonderfully vivid in suggestion. These difficulties, of course, exist mainly when regarded from the point of view of amateur reproduction.

'As Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (disguised as Robin Oakapple), Mr Henry Lytton probably made more of the humorous possibilities than the dramatic. One thought that the part might have stood a little more sentimentality. Notwithstanding, it was an artistic creation and, with the qualification mentioned, bore the true Lytton touch.  His duet, “Poor Little Maid,” with Rose was deliciously treated, and his account of the daily crimes to the censorious ghosts was a piece of rich comedy.

'The Richard Dauntless of Leo Darnton was a very creditable presentation of a difficult part, and was toned very well in a subordinate key. “The Ghosts’ High Noon,” one of the finest ballads of the opera, gave Darrell Fancourt as Sir Roderic Murgatroyd a real opportunity of displaying his voice and his art; and, while mindful of the possibilities of the part, it has to be said that he emerged as the most brilliant of the newer members of the cast. As Old Adam, T Penry Hughes was an excellent foil to his master.

'Leo Sheffield as Sir Despard cannot be separated from Catherine Ferguson as Mad Margaret, inasmuch as each was a perfect counter to the other, and between them they provided some of the best memories of the performance. “The Song of the Penitents” was wonderfully sung, and, along with the “Doesn’t Matter Trio” with Sir Ruthven, formed a triumph of the second act. The Mad Margaret drama, which marks Miss Ferguson’s first entrance, was up to all expectations.

'The second act is the finer of the two in song values, and it was here Bertha Lewis, singing with Sir Roderic, achieved so much in the very sweet “There grew a little flower.” So perfectly was Dame Hannah played by Miss Lewis that it is no wonder that she is becoming apprehensive of what people think of her age. At the same time, one is grateful to the first act for the chance it presents of hearing the liquid beauty of Miss Elsie Griffin’s (Rose Maybud) voice. It is enough compliment to say that one waited almost impatiently for each of her next songs.  Marguerite Kynaston and Eileen Sharp were vivacious little bridesmaids.

'The choral work was remarkably fine, and the movement in some of the ensembles quite incomparable. The finale of the first act was radiantly colourful to eye and ear, and the action in the madrigal a symphony.'

Performance Cast

Zorah a Professional Bridesmaid

Marguerite Kynaston (Dec 20)

Ruth a Professional Bridesmaid

Eileen Sharp (Dec 20)

Dame Hannah Rose's Aunt

Bertha Lewis (Dec 20)

Rose Maybud a Village Maiden

Elsie Griffin (Dec 20)

Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd disguised as Robin Oakapple, a Young Farmer

Henry Lytton (Dec 20)

Old Adam Goodheart Robin's Faithful Servant

T Penry Hughes (Dec 20)

Richard Dauntless Robin's Foster-brother, a Sailor

Leo Darnton (Dec 20)

Mad Margaret

Catherine Ferguson (Dec 20)

Sir Despard Murgatroyd of Ruddigore, a Wicked Baronet

Leo Sheffield (Dec 20)

Sir Roderic Murgatroyd the Twenty-First Baronet

Darrell Fancourt (Dec 20)

Production Cast


Harry Norris (Dec 20)

Performance DatesRuddigore 1922

Map List

King's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

20 Dec, 19.30

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