“Mighty maiden with a mission,
paragon of common sense;
running fount of erudition,
miracle of eloquence!”
Princess Ida or Castle Adamant
March 2nd to 24th, 2018
|Dr. Randal A. Buikema
Could Gilbert or Sullivan ever have imagined that their works would be alive and well some 130 years later and providing so much joy to us all in Minnesota in the dead of winter?
Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant opened on January 5, 1884 and was the eighth operatic collaboration for Gilbert and Sullivan. It nestled between Iolanthe and The Mikado – two of their biggest successes. By comparison, Princess Ida was not an enormous hit. But its longevity is a testament to its many charms. In 1985, I played my first lead in a G&S show – Hilarion in Carleton College’s production. About eight years later, I sang the role again with this very company in the 1993 production. So, this show holds a special place in my heart. Its enduring power might seem odd given that it deals with difficult topics: the satirization of Victorian feminism, college education for women (a novelty at the time), and Darwin’s theory of evolution (only a few decades old when the show opened). Any one of these topics could pose challenges for a modern audience. Thankfully, Gilbert treated the topics with a light touch; in fact, the show pokes more fun at male foolishness and chauvinism than anything else.
Princess Ida is based on a narrative poem by Tennyson called The Princess (1847). Gilbert had written a farcical musical play, based on the poem, in 1870 and lifted much of the dialogue from it for his operetta. It is the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera in three acts and the only one with dialogue in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter). It has been noted – and I agree – that the dialogue sometimes fails to sparkle in the usual Gilbertian way as a result of the forced meter. Happily, the score and lyrics more than make up for any shortcomings in the somewhat stilted dialogue.
It should be noted that we have adapted the play very slightly to address a notable challenge in the original: the play’s conclusion includes a significant reversal. The ending is forced and somewhat jarring – especially to the modern ear. We’ve added just a few lines in Act 2 and 3 to help Ida’s change of heart seem more plausible. Many of these new lines are actually from the original Tennyson poem which handles the conclusion in a far less perfunctory way.
I hope you enjoy this production even half as much as we have enjoyed putting it together for you. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to work with such a profoundly talented, collaborative, dedicated and buoyant cast, crew, orchestra, music director and board.
I hope you’ll agree that it’s especially important right now, right here, to support art that brings beauty and joy – the wellsprings of hope – into the world. If you agree, perhaps you’ll consider a contribution to this unique Twin Cities company that dedicates itself solely to this special brand of operetta that we all hold so dear.
Sarah Wind Richens as Princess Ida, with
Anna Maher, Kaitlin Klemencic, Sarah Mehle,
Taylor Ann Grand.and Cassandra Utt
Joe Allen as Guron,
Doug Freeman as Arac and
Alessio Tranchell Scynthius
Princess Ida Reviews
An excellent internet resource for information about steampunk, the concept that inspired this production of Princess Ida
Two excellent internet resources for information about Princess Ida:
Poster design by Tom McGregor and Mary Olson
Photography by Bethany Jackson, Twin Cities Headshots
“With joy abiding, together gliding,
through life’s variety, in sweet society,
and thus enthroning the love I’m owning,
on this atoning, I will rely!”