W.S. Gilbert.

The Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan online

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Produced by David Reed


By William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan

William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan collaborated on 14
operas in the period from 1871 to 1896. The are the following:






Libretto by William S. Gilbert

Music by Arthur S. Sullivan


THE DUKE OF PLAZA-TORO (a Grandee of Spain)
LUIZ (his attendant)
DON ALHAMBRA DEL BOLERO (the Grand Inquisitioner)

Venetian Gondoliers

CASILDA (her Daughter)


INEZ (the King's Foster-mother)

Chorus of Gondoliers and Contadine, Men-at-Arms, Heralds and

The Piazzetta, Venice

Pavilion in the Palace of Barataria

(An interval of three months is supposed to elapse between Acts I
and II)



Scene. - the Piazzetta, Venice. The Ducal Palace on the right.

Fiametta, Giulia, Vittoria, and other Contadine discovered, each
tying a bouquet of roses.


List and learn, ye dainty roses,
Roses white and roses red,
Why we bind you into posies
Ere your morning bloom has fled.
By a law of maiden's making,
Accents of a heart that's aching,
Even though that heart be breaking,
Should by maiden be unsaid:
Though they love with love exceeding,
They must seem to be unheeding -
Go ye then and do their pleading,
Roses white and roses red!


Two there are for whom in duty,
Every maid in Venice sighs -
Two so peerless in their beauty
That they shame the summer skies.
We have hearts for them, in plenty,
They have hearts, but all too few,
We, alas, are four-and-twenty!
They, alas, are only two!
We, alas!


FIA. Are four-and-twenty,
They, alas!


FIA. Are only two.

CHORUS. They, alas, are only two, alas!
Now ye know, ye dainty roses,
Roses white and roses red,
Why we bind you into posies,
Ere your morning bloom has fled,
Roses white and roses red!

(During this chorus Antonio, Francesco, Giorgio, and other
Gondoliers have entered unobserved by the Girls - at first two,
then two more, then four, then half a dozen, then the remainder
of the Chorus.)


FRANC. Good morrow, pretty maids; for whom prepare ye
These floral tributes extraordinary?

FIA. For Marco and Giuseppe Palmieri,
The pink and flower of all the Gondolieri.

GIU. They're coming here, as we have heard but lately,
To choose two brides from us who sit sedately.

ANT. Do all you maidens love them?

ALL. Passionately!

ANT. These gondoliers are to be envied greatly!

GIOR. But what of us, who one and all adore you?
Have pity on our passion, we implore you!

FIA. These gentlemen must make their choice before you;

VIT. In the meantime we tacitly ignore you.

GIU. When they have chosen two that leaves you plenty -
Two dozen we, and ye are four-and-twenty.

FIA. and VIT. Till then, enjoy your dolce far niente.

ANT. With pleasure, nobody contradicente!


For the merriest fellows are we, tra la,
That ply on the emerald sea, tra la;
With loving and laughing,
And quipping and quaffing,
We're happy as happy can be, tra la -
With loving and laughing, etc.

With sorrow we've nothing to do, tra la,
And care is a thing to pooh-pooh, tra la;
And Jealousy yellow,
Unfortunate fellow,
We drown in the shimmering blue, tra la -
And Jealousy yellow, etc.

FIA. (looking off). See, see, at last they come to make their
choice -
Let us acclaim them with united voice.

(Marco and Giuseppe appear in gondola at back.)

CHORUS (Girls). Hail, hail! gallant gondolieri, ben venuti!
Accept our love, our homage, and our duty.
Ben' venuti! ben' venuti!

(Marco and Giuseppe jump ashore - the Girls salute them.)


MAR. and GIU. Buon' giorno, signorine!

GIRLS. Gondolieri carissimi!
Siamo contadine!

MAR. and GIU. (bowing). Servitori umilissimi!
Per chi questi fiori -
Questi fiori bellissimi?

GIRLS. Per voi, bei signori
O eccellentissimi!

(The Girls present their bouquets to Marco and Giuseppe, who are
overwhelmed with them, and carry them with difficulty.)

MAR. and GIU. (their arms full of flowers). O ciel'! O ciel'!

GIRLS. Buon' giorno, cavalieri!

MAR. and GIU. (deprecatingly). Siamo gondolieri.

(To Fia. and Vit.) Signorina, io t' amo!

GIRLS. (deprecatingly). Contadine siamo.

MAR. and GIU. Signorine!

GIRLS (deprecatingly). Contadine!

(Curtseying to Mar. and Giu.) Cavalieri.

MAR. and GIU. (deprecatingly). Gondolieri!
Poveri gondolieri!

CHORUS. Buon' giorno, signorine, etc.


We're called gondolieri,
But that's a vagary,
It's quite honorary
The trade that we ply.
For gallantry noted
Since we were short-coated,
To beauty devoted,
Giuseppe\Are Marco and I;

When morning is breaking,
Our couches forsaking,
To greet their awaking
With carols we come.
At summer day's nooning,
When weary lagooning,
Our mandolins tuning,
We lazily thrum.

When vespers are ringing,
To hope ever clinging,
With songs of our singing
A vigil we keep,
When daylight is fading,
Enwrapt in night's shading,
With soft serenading
We sing them to sleep.

We're called gondolieri, etc.


MAR. And now to choose our brides!

GIU. As all are young and fair,
And amiable besides,

BOTH. We really do not care
A preference to declare.

MAR. A bias to disclose
Would be indelicate -

GIU. And therefore we propose
To let impartial Fate
Select for us a mate!

ALL. Viva!

GIRLS. A bias to disclose
Would be indelicate -

MEN. But how do they propose
To let impartial Fate
Select for them a mate?

GIU. These handkerchiefs upon our eyes be good enough to

MAR. And take good care that both of us are absolutely

BOTH. Then turn us round - and we, with all convenient
Will undertake to marry any two of you we catch!

ALL. Viva!
They undertake to marry any two of us\them they catch!

(The Girls prepare to bind their eyes as directed.)

FIA. (to Marco). Are you peeping?
Can you see me?

MAR. Dark I'm keeping,
Dark and dreamy!

(Marco slyly lifts

VIT. (to Giuseppe). If you're blinded
Truly, say so

GIU. All right-minded
Players play so!
(slyly lifts bandage).

FIA. (detecting Marco). Conduct shady!
They are cheating!
Surely they de-
Serve a beating!
(replaces bandage).

VIT. (detecting Giuseppe). This too much is;
Maidens mocking -
Conduct such is
Truly shocking!
(replaces bandage).

ALL. You can spy, sir!
Shut your eye, sir!
You may use it by and by, sir!
You can see, sir!
Don't tell me, sir!
That will do - now let it be, sir!

CHORUS OF GIRLS. My papa he keeps three horses,
Black, and white, and dapple grey, sir;
Turn three times, then take your courses,
Catch whichever girl you may, sir!

CHORUS OF MEN. My papa, etc.

(Marco and Giuseppe turn round, as directed, and try to catch the
girls. Business of blind-man's buff. Eventually Marco catches
Gianetta, and Giuseppe catches Tessa. The two girls try to
escape, but in vain. The two men pass their hands over the
girls' faces to discover their identity.)

GIU. I've at length achieved a capture!
(Guessing.) This is Tessa! (removes bandage). Rapture,

CHORUS. Rapture, rapture!

MAR. (guessing). To me Gianetta fate has granted!
(removes bandage).
Just the very girl I wanted!

CHORUS. Just the very girl he wanted!

GIU. (politely to Mar.). If you'd rather change -

TESS. My goodness!
This indeed is simple rudeness.

MAR. (politely to Giu.). I've no preference whatever -

GIA. Listen to him! Well, I never!
(Each man kisses each girl.)

GIA. Thank you, gallant gondolieri!
In a set and formal measure
It is scarcely necessary
To express our pleasure.
Each of us to prove a treasure,
Conjugal and monetary,
Gladly will devote our leisure,
Gay and gallant gondolieri.
Tra, la, la, la, la, la, etc.

TESS. Gay and gallant gondolieri,
Take us both and hold us tightly,
You have luck extraordinary;
We might both have been unsightly!
If we judge your conduct rightly,
'Twas a choice involuntary;
Still we thank you most politely,
Gay and gallant gondolieri!
Tra, la, la, la, la, la, etc.

CHORUS OF Thank you, gallant gondolieri;
GIRLS. In a set and formal measure,
It is scarcely necessary
To express our pleasure.
Each of us to prove a treasure
Gladly will devote our leisure,
Gay and gallant gondolieri!
Tra, la, la, la, la, la, etc.

ALL. Fate in this has put his finger -
Let us bow to Fate's decree,
Then no longer let us linger,
To the altar hurry we!

(They all dance off two and two - Gianetta with Marco, Tessa with

(Flourish. A gondola arrives at the Piazzetta steps, from which
enter the Duke of Plaza-toro, the Duchess, their daughter
Casilda, and their attendant Luiz, who carries a drum. All are
dressed in pompous but old and faded clothes.)

(Entrance of Duke, Duchess, Casilda, and Luiz.)

DUKE. From the sunny Spanish shore,
The Duke of Plaza-Tor! -

DUCH. And His Grace's Duchess true -

CAS. And His Grace's daughter, too -

LUIZ. And His Grace's private drum
To Venetia's shores have come:

ALL. If ever, ever, ever
They get back to Spain,
They will never, never, never
Cross the sea again -

DUKE. Neither that Grandee from the Spanish shore,
The noble Duke of Plaza-Tor' -

DUCH. Nor His Grace's Duchess, staunch and true -

CAS. You may add, His Grace's daughter, too -

LUIZ. Nor His Grace's own particular drum
To Venetia's shores will come:

ALL. If ever, ever, ever
They get back to Spain,
They will never, never, never
Cross the sea again!

DUKE. At last we have arrived at our destination. This is
the Ducal Palace, and it is here that the Grand Inquisitor
resides. As a Castilian hidalgo of ninety-five quarterings, I
regret that I am unable to pay my state visit on a horse. As a
Castilian hidalgo of that description, I should have preferred to
ride through the streets of Venice; but owing, I presume, to an
unusually wet season, the streets are in such a condition that
equestrian exercise is impracticable. No matter. Where is our
LUIZ (coming forward). Your Grace, I am here.
DUCH. Why do you not do yourself the honour to kneel when
you address His Grace?
DUKE. My love, it is so small a matter! (To Luiz.) Still,
you may as well do it. (Luiz kneels.)
CAS. The young man seems to entertain but an imperfect
appreciation of the respect due from a menial to a Castilian
DUKE. My child, you are hard upon our suite.
CAS. Papa, I've no patience with the presumption of persons
in his plebeian position. If he does not appreciate that
position, let him be whipped until he does.
DUKE. Let us hope the omission was not intended as a
slight. I should be much hurt if I thought it was. So would he.
(To Luiz.) Where are the halberdiers who were to have had the
honour of meeting us here, that our visit to the Grand Inquisitor
might be made in becoming state?
LUIZ. Your Grace, the halberdiers are mercenary people who
stipulated for a trifle on account.
DUKE. How tiresome! Well, let us hope the Grand Inquisitor
is a blind gentleman. And the band who were to have had the
honour of escorting us? I see no band!
LUIZ. Your Grace, the band are sordid persons who required
to be paid in advance.
DUCH. That's so like a band!
DUKE (annoyed). Insuperable difficulties meet me at every
DUCH. But surely they know His Grace?
LUIZ. Exactly - they know His Grace.
DUKE. Well, let us hope that the Grand Inquisitor is a deaf
gentleman. A cornet-a-piston would be something. You do not
happen to possess the accomplishment of tootling like a
LUIZ. Alas, no, Your Grace! But I can imitate a farmyard.
DUKE (doubtfully). I don't see how that would help us. I
don't see how we could bring it in.
CAS. It would not help us in the least. We are not a
parcel of graziers come to market, dolt!
DUKE. My love, our suite's feelings! (To Luiz.) Be so
good as to ring the bell and inform the Grand Inquisitor that his
Grace the Duke of Plaza-Toro, Count Matadoro, Baron Picadoro -
DUCH. And suite -
DUKE. And suite - have arrived at Venice, and seek -
CAS. Desire -
DUCH. Demand!
DUKE. And demand an audience.
LUIZ. Your Grace has but to command.
DUKE (much moved). I felt sure of it - I felt sure of it!
(Exit Luiz into Ducal Palace.) And now, my love - (aside to
Duchess) Shall we tell her? I think so - (aloud to Casilda) And
now, my love, prepare for a magnificent surprise. It is my
agreeable duty to reveal to you a secret which should make you
the happiest young lady in Venice!
CAS. A secret?
DUCH. A secret which, for State reasons, it has been
necessary to preserve for twenty years.
DUKE. When you were a prattling babe of six months old you
were married by proxy to no less a personage than the infant son
and heir of His Majesty the immeasurably wealthy King of
CAS. Married to the infant son of the King of Barataria?
Was I consulted? (Duke shakes his head.) Then it was a most
unpardonable liberty!
DUKE. Consider his extreme youth and forgive him. Shortly
after the ceremony that misguided monarch abandoned the creed of
his forefathers, and became a Wesleyan Methodist of the most
bigoted and persecuting type. The Grand Inquisitor, determined
that the innovation should not be perpetuated in Barataria,
caused your smiling and unconscious husband to be stolen and
conveyed to Venice. A fortnight since the Methodist Monarch and
all his Wesleyan Court were killed in an insurrection, and we are
here to ascertain the whereabouts of your husband, and to hail
you, our daughter, as Her Majesty, the reigning Queen of
Barataria! (Kneels.)

(During this speech Luiz re-enters.)

DUCH. Your Majesty! (Kneels.) (Drum roll.)
DUKE. It is at such moments as these that one feels how
necessary it is to travel with a full band.
CAS. I, the Queen of Barataria! But I've nothing to wear!
We are practically penniless!
DUKE. That point has not escaped me. Although I am
unhappily in straitened circumstances at present, my social
influence is something enormous; and a Company, to be called the
Duke of Plaza-Toro, Limited, is in course of formation to work
me. An influential directorate has been secured, and I shall
myself join the Board after allotment.
CAS. Am I to understand that the Queen of Barataria may be
called upon at any time to witness her honoured sire in process
of liquidation?
DUCH. The speculation is not exempt from that drawback. If
your father should stop, it will, of course, be necessary to wind
him up.
CAS. But it's so undignified - it's so degrading! A Grandee
of Spain turned into a public company! Such a thing was never
heard of!
DUKE. My child, the Duke of Plaza-Toro does not follow
fashions - he leads them. He always leads everybody. When he was
in the army he led his regiment. He occasionally led them into
action. He invariably led them out of it.


In enterprise of martial kind,
When there was any fighting,
He led his regiment from behind -
He found it less exciting.
But when away his regiment ran,
His place was at the fore, O -
That celebrated,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

ALL. In the first and foremost flight, ha, ha!
You always found that knight, ha, ha!
That celebrated,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

DUKE. When, to evade Destruction's hand,
To hide they all proceeded,
No soldier in that gallant band
Hid half as well as he did.
He lay concealed throughout the war,
And so preserved his gore, O!
That unaffected,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

ALL. In every doughty deed, ha, ha!
He always took the lead, ha, ha!
That unaffected,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

DUKE. When told that they would all be shot
Unless they left the service,
That hero hesitated not,
So marvellous his nerve is.
He sent his resignation in,
The first of all his corps, O!
That very knowing,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

ALL. To men of grosser clay, ha, ha!
He always showed the way, ha, ha!
That very knowing,
The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

(Exeunt Duke and Duchess into Grand Ducal Palace. As soon as
they have disappeared, Luiz and Casilda rush to each other's


O rapture, when alone together
Two loving hearts and those that bear them
May join in temporary tether,
Though Fate apart should rudely tear them.

CAS. Necessity, Invention's mother,
Compelled me to a course of feigning -
But, left alone with one another,
I will atone for my disdaining!


CAS. Ah, well-beloved,
Mine angry frown
Is but a gown
That serves to dress
My gentleness!

LUIZ. Ah, well-beloved,
Thy cold disdain,
It gives no pain -
'Tis mercy, played
In masquerade!

BOTH. Ah, well-beloved, etc.

CAS. O Luiz, Luiz - what have you said? What have I done?
What have I allowed you to do?
LUIZ. Nothing, I trust, that you will ever have reason to
repent. (Offering to embrace her.)
CAS. (withdrawing from him). Nay, Luiz, it may not be. I
have embraced you for the last time.
LUIZ (amazed). Casilda!
CAS. I have just learnt, to my surprise and indignation,
that I was wed in babyhood to the infant son of the King of
LUIZ. The son of the King of Barataria? The child who was
stolen in infancy by the Inquisition?

Online LibraryW.S. GilbertThe Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan → online text (page 1 of 51)