The Martyr of Antioch
The Yeomen of the Guard
Other works performed by St Davids Players
St Davids Players
The Pirates of Penzance
Trial by Jury
The Grand Duke
Website © St David’s Players 2019
THE SAVOY OPERAS
THESPIS or, THE GODS GROWN OLD
Read more about THESPIS
ST DAVID’S PLAYERS
Gilbert and Sullivan Society · Exeter · Devon
Written by W S Gilbert
Composed by Arthur Sullivan
Premièred at The Gaiety Theatre, London 26th December 1871 running for 63 performances. No musical score of Thespis was ever published, and most of the music has
Over the last 60 years or so there have been 20 or more attempts by various scholars to recreate the opera, either using music from other works by Sullivan, or by composing new scores in the style of Sullivan. ‘Climbing over rocky mountain’ was transferred from Thespis to The Pirates of Penzance wholesale, that ‘Little maid of Arcadee’ was published as a separate ballad in 1872, and that the ballet from act two was discovered in the 1990’s and has several times been recorded.
A brief synopsis
The story follows an acting troupe headed by Thespis,
the legendary Greek father of the drama, who temporarily
trade places with the gods on Mount Olympus, who have grown elderly and ignored. The actors turn out to be comically inept rulers.
Having seen the ensuing mayhem down below, the angry gods return, sending the actors back to Earth as ‘eminent tragedians, whom no one ever goes to see’. Gilbert would return to this theme twenty-five years later in his last opera with Sullivan,
The Grand Duke, in which a theatre company temporarily replaces the ruler of a small country and decides to ‘revive the classic memories of Athens at its best’.