Haddon Hall
Derbyshire, England

Princess Ida First Editions by W. S. Gilbert

Gilbert wrote PRINCESS IDA in the latter part of 1883. The opera opened in London in January 1884 with some success and ran to October. The dialogue of the opera is closely derived from Gilbert's earlier play of 1870, The Princess, which was “a respectful perversion” of Alfred Tennyson's 1847 narrative poem, The Princess - A Medley.

Over half of the spoken lines from Gilbert's The Princess are imported or adapted into PRINCESS IDA and make up almost all of its spoken lines. Shown here are the first edition of the published American Libretto and the first edition of the published English Libretto.

The first edition American Libretto of PRINCESS IDA is a pre-opening version: it contains significant differences, both in song and dialogue, from the first edition English Libretto which reflects the Gilbert & Sullivan opera as performed.

In many instances Gilbert 'cut and pasted' from The Princess dialogue into the American PRINCESS IDA. He later performed his editing in the English Libretto. Examples include Psyche changing from Professor of Experimental Science to Humanities, and Blanche changing from Professor of Abstract Philosophy to Abstract Science. "Gask from Gask" also appears only in the English libretto; it is "Grant from Gask" in Gilbert’s earlier texts.

Words shown 'in bold' are unique to the first edition American Libretto of PRINCESS IDA. Words shown 'lined out' are unique to the English Libretto of PRINCESS IDA. Differences in spelling, however minor, are indicated.

This book accurately contains the words, in the correct order, of the first American and English Librettos. Capitalization, italics and punctuation are taken from the American Libretto. In many cases, the words are the same in both Librettos, but the capitalization, italics or punctuation are different; however these differences are not indicated.

At issue has been whether to correct apparent grammatical inconsistencies which appear identically in both Librettos. In most cases this has not been done. The reader will have to decide whether Gilbert’s action was intentional or an oversight. Most of these have been changed in the later libretto versions.

Also included, and noted, are further changes in words and content made to the first edition librettos, which update them to the later and present versions.

Words in [Square Brackets] are this Editor’s comments.

Princess Ida First Editions has been included in the book The Princess and Princess Ida. A printed copy of the book may be purchased at www.LULU.com/shop
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