Utopia Ltd

Gilbert and Sullivan

 

'Utopia Limited' is the 13th collaboration of W S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan and was first performed at the Savoy Theatre London on October 7th 1893. It was four years since their previous work 'The Gondoliers'. During that time the pair had had an acrimonius falling out over the cost of a new carpet at the Savoy Theatre, but were persuaded to write together again by their producer Richard D'Oyly Carte with the result being Utopia Limited. The show ran for 245 performances and was the most lavish of their productions requiring a large cast. Although the Opera does have its detractors, George Bernard Shaw, who at the time it was written was the music critic for the Daily Telegraph, declared ' I enjoyed the score of Utopia more than any of any of the previous Savoy Operas'. Gilberts libretto displays him at his most wordy, and the plot is even more flimsy than some of the earlier pieces. With that in mind we are to present an edited version of the libretto, to make the show pacier and relevant.

The story is as follows:

 

King Paramount of the south seas island of Utopia decides that his people should adopt all English customs and institutions, but he goes a bit overboard and decrees that the kingdom and each of its inhabitants should become a "company limited" based on the English "companies act" of 1862. The king's daughter, Princess Zara, brings six "flowers of progress" from England to train the Utopian people in "English" customs. But the reforms are too successful, which upsets the judges of the Utopian Supreme Court, the "Public Exploder" and ultimately the entire populace, which revolts against them. Zara realises that an essential element has been forgotten, namely "government by party". Introduce that and the result would be "general and unexampled prosperity".

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© 2015 Gosforth Musical Society

Photographs © Liffy Hall, Monica Goldfinch and Laura Reed

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