Princess Ida
The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company’s Production of

Princess Ida or Castle Adamant

March 17 to April 9, 2006

Photo Gallery

Princess Ida Program

Directors

Stage Director: Lesley Hendrickson
Music Director: Roderick Phipps-Kettlewell

Director’s Notes

In Princess Ida William S. Gilbert turns Tennyson’s epic poem, ― The Princess, into a scathing attack on women’s education.  Though Gilbert’s sneers are hard to take, today it is almost as hard to take them very seriously.  In his time, however, Gilbert was preaching to the choir.  The prevailing sentiment of both sexes was that a woman had no need for higher education to fulfill her duty to make a comfortable home for her husband.  Education would only make a woman querulous and dissatisfied – hardly conducive to domestic quiet.

Ida further alienates modern sensibility by forcing an arranged marriage.  As far as Gilbert was concerned, any reasonably intelligent and attractive young lady ought to be able to make a go of marriage with any reasonably intelligent and attractive young man.  Romantic love he treated as humbug.  Now, many couples in the G & S canon are paired up almost at random by the final curtain.  But they, at least, were looking to be paired up: Ida clearly is not.

So how does one approach a modern production?  An easy argument is that ― those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  Those of us old enough to remember the bad old days before the women’s liberation movement can take a certain satisfaction in showing the youngsters how tough it used to be.  But one can also move beyond Gilbert’s cheap jokes at women’s expense and see more broadly human questions.  How does one effectively rebel against a clear injustice?  Can the use of force ever be justified?  Finally, isn’t the cause already lost if one’s principles are abandoned in the attempt?  Some issues, I fear, will never become dated.

Lesley Hendrickson

Two excellent internet resources for information about Princess Ida:

Wikipedia – Princess Ida

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – Princess Ida

Princess Ida Show Poster

Show Poster

Princess Ida Company Photo

Company Photo

Photography by Daniels Studio

“Oh, don’t the days seem
lank and long
When all goes right and nothing goes wrong,
And isn’t your life extremely flat
With nothing whatever to
grumble at!”

— King Gama
Princess Ida