Ivanhoe (opera)

Ivanhoe (opera)

"Ivanhoe" is a romantic opera in three acts based on the novel by Sir Walter Scott, with music by Sir Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by Julian Sturgis. It premiered at the Royal English Opera House on 31 January 1891 for a consecutive run of 155 performances, unheard of for a grand opera. [ [http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/other_sullivan/ivanhoe/ivanhoe_intro.html "Ivanhoe"] at The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive. This has been surpassed only by Broadway's 2003 production of "La bohème".] Later that year it was performed six more times, for a total of 161 performances.Dailey, Chapter 7]


By 1891, Richard D'Oyly Carte had earned great wealth as the impresario who produced the Savoy Operas, with music by Sullivan and librettos by W. S. Gilbert. Carte built the Royal English Opera House with the idea of doing for English grand opera what he had already done for light opera, and he commissioned Sullivan to write the venture's inaugural work. The composer asked Gilbert to supply the libretto, but the latter declined, saying that in grand opera the librettist's role is subordinate to that of the composer. However, Gilbert recommended Sturgis to write the libretto. Departing from the usual practice for grand opera, Carte's opera house did not have a repertory. Instead, it presented "Ivanhoe" every night, with alternative singers being provided for the chief roles - not as separate 'first' and 'second' casts, but in different mixtures. [Jacobs, Arthur, "Arthur Sullivan: A Victorian Musician. Oxford University Press (1984)"] One cast member who went on to a fine career was the young tenor, Joseph O'Mara, in the title role. R. Scott Fishe, a member of the chorus, later became a principal performer with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company at the Savoy Theatre. No expense was spared to make the production a success, including a double cast and "every imaginable effect of scenic splendour ["Hesketh Pearson, "Gilbert and Sullivan"] . The opera ran for an unprecedented 155 consecutive performances.

"Ivanhoe" closed in July, when the opera house closed for the summer at the end of the opera season. When the house re-opened in November, Carte had no new work to replace it. He programmed André Messager's "La Basoche" (with David Bispham in his first London stage performance) alternating in repertory with "Ivanhoe", and then "La Basoche" alone, closing in January 1892. Notwithstanding "Ivanhoe's" success, the opera house was a failure, as Carte had not provided for a repertory to keep it open. It was, as critic Hermann Klein observed, "the strangest comingling of success and failure ever chronicled in the history of British lyric enterprise!" [http://diamond.boisestate.edu/gas/other_sullivan/ivanhoe/klein.html Hermann Klein's 1903 description of "Ivanhoe"] ] Sir Henry Wood, who had been répétiteur for the production, recalled in his autobiography that " [if] Carte had had a repertory of six operas instead of only one, I believe he would have established English opera in London for all time. Towards the end of the run of Ivanhoe I was already preparing the "Flying Dutchman" with Eugène Oudin in the name part. He would have been superb. However, plans were altered and the Dutchman was shelved." ["My Life of Music", Victor Gollancz Ltd, London (1938)] Carte sold the theatre within a year, and it was renamed the Palace Theatre of Varieties. The building is known today as the Palace Theatre.

There was a successful touring revival by the Carl Rosa Opera Company in a cut version from December 1894 to June 1895 (the opera originally ran almost four hours) and then again in the autumn of 1895, and an unsuccessful production in Berlin. Then, apart from two performances in Sir Thomas Beecham's 1910 season at the Royal Opera House, "Ivanhoe" disappeared from the professional repertory. The opera was broadcast on BBC Radio on 25 March 1929, with the London Wireless Orchestra conducted by Percy Pitt, who had conducted the 1910 performances.

Numerous other composers also wrote operas based on Scott's "Ivanhoe", including John Parry, Otto Nicolai ("Il Templario"), and Heinrich Marschner ("Der Templer und die Jüdin").

Roles and original cast

Below are listed the roles in the opera. Alternative singers were provided for the chief roles - not as separate 'first' and 'second' casts, but in different mixtures:
* Richard Coeur-de-Lion, King of England ("Disguised as the Black Knight") - Norman Salmond and Franklin Clive
* Prince John - Richard Green and Wallace Brownlow
* Sir Brian de Bois Guilbert ("Commander of the Knights Templar") - Eugene Oudin, Francois Noije and Richard Green
* Maurice de Bracy - Charles Kenningham (all performances)
* Lucas de Beaumanoir ("Grand Master of the Templars") - Adams Owen (all performances)
* Cedric the Saxon ("Thane of Rotherwood") - David Ffrangcon Davies and W. H. Burgon
* Wilfred, Knight of Ivanhoe ("His son, disguised as a Palmer") - Ben Davies and Joseph O'Mara
* Friar Tuck - Avon Saxon (all performances)
* Isaac of York - Charles Copland (all performances)
* Locksley - W.H. Stephens (all performances)
* The Squire - Frederick Bovill (all performances)
* Wamba, Jester to Cedric - Mr. Cowis (all performances)
* The Lady Rowena ("Ward of Cedric") - Esther Palliser and Lucile Hill
* Ulrica - Marie Groebl (all performances)
* Rebecca ("Daughter of Isaac of York") - Margaret Macintyre and Miss I. Thudichum


In 1891, the audience knew Scott's best-selling novel intimately. Sullivan and Sturgis relied on this fact, and so the opera intentionally dramatises disconnected scenes from the book and does not attempt to retell the whole story. This presents a challenge to modern audiences who may be far less familiar with the story. [Borthwick, Alan. [http://math.boisestate.edu/GaS/other_sullivan/ivanhoe/ivanhoe_intro.html Introduction to "Ivanhoe",] The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive]

Act I

Scene 1: "The Hall of Cedric of Rotherwood. Evening."

As Cedric's men prepare supper, he laments the King's many journeys abroad, the scurrilous behavior of the Norman knights, and the absence of his estranged son, Ivanhoe. Isaac of York, a Jew, enters and asks for shelter. Although Cedric considers Isaac's race accursed, he will not refuse Saxon hospitality. A squire announces Sir Brian de Bois Guilbert and Maurice de Bracy, of the Knights Templar, who are on their way to a Royal tournament at Ashby de la Zouche. They are Normans, and Cedric, a Saxon, loathes them. However, they too are granted hospitality. Ivanhoe is with them, in disguise. De Bracy asks after Cedric's fair ward, Rowena. Cedric notes that she will only marry a Saxon. Ivanhoe tells of a tournament he witnessed in the Holy Land where the English knights soundly defeated the Templars. Sir Brian was beaten by Ivanhoe, whom he wishes to challenge again. Rowena and the disguised Ivanhoe, whom no one recognizes, assure Sir Brian that Ivanhoe will meet his challenge. After Rowena exits, Sir Brian and de Bracy agree that they will abduct her after the tournament at Ashby.

Scene 2: "An Ante-Chamber in the Hall at Rotherwood"

Rowena laments the absence of her lover, Ivanhoe. He enters, still disguised as a holy palmer. She tells him that she hopes to be with Ivanhoe again. Ivanhoe tells Isaac that he has overheard Sir Brian planning to seize him the next day. Isaac promises to equip Ivanhoe (whom he recognises as a knight) with a horse and armour, and Ivanhoe in turn promises that, if they fly Cedric's hall directly, Isaac will be safe with him. They leave for the tournament at Ashby.

Scene 3: "The Tournament at Ashby"At the tournament, King Richard, disguised as the Black Knight, has made a great impression with his victories. Prince John enters with Rowena, who has been named Queen of Beauty for the tournament. The Prince shrugs off a message that his brother, the King, has escaped from France. The Prince asks for challengers to the Knights Templar. Ivanhoe, now in disguise as the Disinherited Knight, challenges Sir Brian. In a fierce clash, Ivanhoe again defeats Sir Brian, but is himself wounded. Ignoring Ivanhoe's protest, a Herald removes his helmet at Prince John's command so that he may be crowned victor of the tournament, and he is recognized by Cedric and Rowena.

Act II

:"Note:" In the original design of the opera, the first two scenes of Act II were to have come in the reverse order. The present sequence was adopted to eliminate a time-consuming mid-act scene change. However, it introduced the anomaly that King Richard learns of Cedric and Rowena's capture before the audience has actually seen it on stage.

Scene 1: "Friar Tuck's Hut, in the Forest at Copmanhurst"

King Richard, who is in hiding after his escape, shares a feast with Friar Tuck and challenges him to a song contest. The King sings "I ask nor wealth nor courtier's praise," while the Friar sings "Ho, jolly Jenkin" (which is the most popular detached excerpt from the opera). Locksley (Robin Hood) enters with the urgent message that Cedric and Rowena have been captured by de Bracy and Sir Brian, and the wounded Ivanhoe, travelling with Isaac and his beautiful daughter Rebecca, have also been captured. All are imprisoned at Torquilstone. The King, Locksley, Friar Tuck and all the outlaws rush off to rescue them.

Scene 2: "A Passageway in Torquilstone"

Cedric and Rowena are prisoners, and De Bracy plans to forcibly marry her. De Bracy tells them that Ivanhoe, Isaac and Rebecca, are also prisoners. He promises that Ivanhoe will be safe if Rowena and Cedric comply with his wishes. Cedric is prepared to sacrifice Ivanhoe, but Rowena begs him to be merciful to them, as well as to Ivanhoe. She appeals to his honour, as a Knight and, begging him to save Ivanhoe, she promises to pray for de Bracy. After they have left, Sir Brian enters, and declares passionately his intention to woo, and win, Rebecca.

Scene 3: "A Turret Chamber in Torquilstone"

Ulrica warns Rebecca that she faces an evil and dark fate, and that death is the only path to safety. The despondent Rebecca prays for God's protection. Sir Brian enters, intent on winning Rebecca. He asks her to submit to him, promising to raise her to the throne of kings and to cover her with jewels. She leaps on the parapet, threatening to jump. A bugle sounds, heralding the arrival of King Richard and his forces. Sir Brian rushes off to defend the castle.


Scene 1: "A Room in Torquilstone"

Ivanhoe, pale and weak from his wounds, thinks of his love for Rowena, and falls asleep. Rebecca, who is in love with Ivanhoe, enters to tend him. When they hear distant trumpets, Rebecca goes to a window and describes the unfolding battle to the frustrated Ivanhoe, who complains that he is unable to participate. Ulrica sets the castle on fire. Sir Brian enters and carries off Rebecca. Ivanhoe is unable to protect her. At the last minute, King Richard enters the chamber and rescues Ivanhoe from the conflagration.

Scene 2: "In the Forest"

King Richard and Ivanhoe rest in a forest. De Bracy has been captured. The King sends him to Prince John with an ultimatum to surrender. Cedric and Rowena appear. At the King's urging, Cedric is reconciled with Ivanhoe, and agrees to Ivanhoe's marriage with Rowena. Isaac enters in haste. The Templars have accused Rebecca of witchcraft, and sentenced her to burn at the stake. Ivanhoe rushes out to rescue her.

Scene 3: "The Preceptory of the Templars, Templestowe"

The funeral pyre has been built. Rebecca will be burned at the stake unless a champion is willing to fight for her. Sir Brian urges them to relent, but the Templars take his irrational passion as further evidence of her witchcraft. Sir Brian offers to save her if she will agree to be his, but Rebecca refuses. Rebecca is bound to the stake. The exhausted Ivanhoe arrives with his sword drawn, offering to fight for her. Rebecca tries to dissuade him, fearing that the wounded knight cannot prevail. Sir Brian attacks Ivanhoe, who appears to be beaten. But as Sir Brian is about to strike the fatal blow, he falls dead. The Templars regard this as proof of God's judgement and Rebecca's innocence, and she is freed. She gazes wistfully at Ivanhoe as he is reunited with Rowena, who has entered with Cedric and King Richard. The King banishes the Templars from English soil.

Recordings and books

A 1989 recording was made by The Prince Consort. [ [http://www.concentric.net/~Oakapple/gasdisc/narrster-1970s.htm#prince_consort Information about the Prince Consort recordings] ] A 1995 hour-long "compressed version" was recorded and presented by Roderic Dunnett (the ‘Opera Now’ magazine reviewer) for his BBC radio ‘Britannia at the Opera’ series.Walker, J. Raymond. [http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2008/Sept08/Ivanhoe.htm Review of Jeff S. Dailey's 2008 "Sir Arthur Sullivan’s Grand Opera ‘Ivanhoe’ and its Theatrical and Musical Precursors",] MusicWebInternational, 8 September 2008] A 1998 CD, "Sullivan & Co.: The Operas That Got Away" features two songs from the opera. [Shepherd, Marc. [http://www.cris.com/~oakapple/gasdisc/iva.htm Discussion of recordings of "Ivanhoe" and songs from the opera] at "A Gilbert and Sullivan Discography] Two soprano arias from "Ivanhoe" were recorded by Deborah Riedel with Richard Bonynge and the Opera Australia orchestra on "The Power of Love - British Opera Arias" (1999, Melba MR 30110). A professional recording of "Ivanhoe" by Chandos is being planned for release in 2009-10,

In 2008, a book was published about "Ivanhoe" and its 19th century "precursors" by Jeff S. Dailey, based on his 2002 doctoral dissertation for New York University. Dailey explains why Scott's novels, Ivanhoe in particular, were frequently adapted. He discusses the text and music of the opera. In his chapter on criticism of the opera (Chapter 9), he notes that "Ivanhoe" received generally favorable reviews early on, except from George Bernard Shaw, but that later critics, some of whom probably never saw the work, tended to be dismissive.

In 2007, the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society published a booklet, edited by David Eden, containing information about the opera including original articles, contemporary reviews and news articles. [ [http://www.negass.org/bray/pdf/Nov07Bray.pdf "The G & S Library Shelf",] "The Trumpet Bray", Vol. 32, No. 3, November 2007]



*Dailey, Jeff S. "Sir Arthur Sullivan's Grand Opera "Ivanhoe" and Its Musical Precursors: Adaptations of Sir Walter Scott's Novel for the Stage, 1819-1891" (2008) Edwin Mellen Press ISBN 0-7734-5068-8
*Lamb, Andrew. "Ivanhoe and the Royal English Opera", "The Musical Times", Vol. 114, No. 1563 (May, 1973), pp. 475-478
*cite book|last=Sullivan|first=Herbert|coauthors=Newman Flower|year=1927|title=Sir Arthur Sullivan: His Life, Letters & Diaries|publisher=Cassell & Company, Ltd|location=London
*"Sullivan's Ivanhoe", ed. David Eden (2007) Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. ISBN 978-0-9557154-0-2

External links

* [http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/other_sullivan/ivanhoe/ivanhoe_home.html "Ivanhoe" at The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive]
* [http://www.concentric.net/~Oakapple/gasdisc/iva.htm "Ivanhoe" at The Gilbert & Sullivan Discography]
* [http://www.webrarian.co.uk/ivanhoe/ Extensive information and analysis of "Ivanhoe"]
* [http://www.archive.org/details/ivanhoeromantico00sull Vocal score]

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