1888 “A New Departure”—<i>The Yeomen of the Guard</i>

Michael Ainger

in Gilbert and Sullivan

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195147698
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849437 | DOI:
1888 “A New Departure”—The Yeomen of the Guard

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If William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's opera is a unique genre, then The Yeomen of the Guard is unique within it. Both men thought that it was the best of their operas, and for Gilbert it was just about as serious as he would want to go. He had created the character of Jack Point, the jester, who “may wear a merry laugh upon his lip,” but whose “laughter has an echo that is grim.” Gilbert had created the lugubrious jailer, Wilfred Shadbolt, who with his “pretty wit” saw himself as a possible jester. Together, they make a comical couple, and in their duet, “Hereupon We're Both Agreed,” they never fail to captivate the audience. Sullivan was justly proud of his overture. Having given it his loving attention, he was sadly disappointed when the audience talked all through it.

Keywords: William Gilbert; Arthur Sullivan; opera; Yeomen; Jack Point; jester; jailer; Wilfred Shadbolt

Chapter.  4911 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Popular Music

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