Interested in joining us for Princess Ida? All the details you need are below!
Director: Tony Baker
Musical Director: Chris Jacklin
Show week and Harrogate performance:
● Bridewell Theatre, Blackfriars, London: Sunday 27 May – Saturday 2 June 2018 (shows Wednesday 30 May – Saturday 2 June including Saturday matinee)
● Harrogate performance (part of the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival): Thursday 23 August (matinee) (please note that all principals must be able to attend the Harrogate performance)
It is likely that cast and chorus will be required in Harrogate on the evening of Wednesday 22 August. More information is provided below.
About Princess Ida
Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant is a comic opera with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was their eighth operatic collaboration of fourteen. The piece concerns a princess who founds a women's university and teaches that women are superior to men and should rule in their stead. The prince to whom she had been married in infancy sneaks into the university, together with two friends, with the aim of collecting his bride. They disguise themselves as women students, but are discovered, and all soon face a literal war between the sexes.
The opera satirizes feminism, women's education and Darwinian evolution, which were controversial topics in conservative Victorian England. Princess Ida is based on a narrative poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson called The Princess (1847), and Gilbert had written a farcical musical play, based on the poem, in 1870. He lifted much of the dialogue of Princess Ida directly from his 1870 farce.
It is the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera in three acts and the only one with dialogue in blank verse.
King Hildebrand – baritone (Bb2 – F4)
A figure of authority, requiring a strong and commanding stage presence in both dialogue and singing. He is the father of Prince Hilarion and features prominently in Act 1 and the finale of Act 2. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, can be a little on the despotic side but is an honourable straightforward man. Just don’t cross him! Excellent diction required but still very much a lyric rather than patter role.
Audition song: Act 2 Finale “Some years ago No doubt you know” (either verse)
Dialogue: Act 1 “See you no sign of Gama… (up to) Much more than everything - much less than nothing!”
Prince Hilarion* - lyric tenor (B2 – Bb4)
The hero of the story, married at the extremely early age of one to the Princess Ida. 22 years old and princely in look and bearing, he is a romantic and a dreamer whose love for Ida grows and develops throughout the piece. Requires strong vocal and acting ability.
Audition song: Act 2 Finale “Whom thou hast chain’d”
Dialogue: Act 1 “Well father… (up to) I had not learnt to speak.”
Cyril* - light lyric tenor (C3 – A4)
Hilarion’s companion, he has grown up at Court with the Prince and, along with Florian, is his best friend. Cyril definitely likes the ladies and is also, unfortunately, fond of alcohol, which gets him into trouble in Act 2. A fun and interesting character to play – strong sense of comedy and good vocal ability needed. Although a comic role it requires lyric singing. Ideally a lighter and higher than voice Hilarion’s, however this is somewhat flexible.
Audition song: Act 2 “Would you know the kind of maid” (either verse)
Dialogue: Act 2 “I’m sure of that… (up to) Thus it ran”
Florian* - lyric baritone (Ab2 – F4)
Hilarion’s other companion, he has also grown up at court and is, coincidentally, the brother of one of the Professors at Ida’s University (Lady Psyche). Again, a fun and lively character to play. Requires a solid baritone voice, good sense of comedy and strong dialogue.
Audition song: Act 2 “I am a maiden” (verse 3)
Dialogue: Act 1 “But stay my liege… (up to) I do not think it is”
*These three roles involve extensive ensemble singing and require excellent musicianship. In the score, Cyril is the higher of the two tenors, however this can be adapted depending on casting.
King Gama - comic baritone (B2 – E4)
The father of Princess Ida and the other King in the plot. A contrasting temperament to Hildebrand’s, he is sarcastic and has a waspish sense of humour. Physically deformed, his favourite pastime is pointing out other people’s weaknesses and grumbling. His opening patter song “If you give me your attention” is one of the most well-known numbers in the show. Needs strong ability with dialogue /comedy and excellent diction. A real character role.
Audition song: Act 1 “If you give me your attention” (any verse)
Dialogue: Act 1 “So this is Castle Hildebrand… (up to) Oh no, King Hildebrand, I am no snob!”
Arac, Guron, Scynthius - bass baritone (F2 – E4)
Sons of King Gama and warriors: brawn, not brain, dominates here. The three brothers have been taught to be great at fighting but little else. Ensemble sections are quite low but solo passages are qasi-handelian, requiring a good top and decent agility. In the score Arac takes the lion’s share of the solo writing, however this is occasionally divided between the three. Arac has one line of dialogue – the other two only sing.
Audition song: Act 3 “This helmet I suppose” (verses 3 and 4)
Dialogue: Use Hildebrand’s Act 1 dialogue “It’s very odd indeed… (up to) His “stung” is past.”
Princess Ida - dramatic soprano (D4 – Bb5)
One of the strongest and most demanding roles for soprano in all of G&S. Strong-willed, highly intelligent and passionate about her beliefs in women’s education and intellectual superiority over man. Yet she also reveals sensitivity and vulnerability when things don’t go her way in Act 3. Requires exceptional vocal and dramatic ability. Ida’s music is less florid than many other G&S soprano roles, instead needing a fuller sound.
Audition song: Act 2 “Minerva/Oh, goddess wise”
Dialogue: Act 2 “Women of Adamant… (up to) let chaos come again”
Lady Blanche - contralto or mezzo (G3 – E5)
Deputy-head of Ida’s University but believes she is intellectually superior to Ida and should be in charge (she was Ida’s tutor in the past). She is a formidable lady who loves serving out punishments to the students, but she also have mischievous side and a sense of humour. She also has a daughter, Melissa. Her dialogue is some of the best and funniest in the show. Strong sense of comedy and excellent ability with dialogue needed.
Audition song: Act 2 “Now wouldn’t you like to rule the roost” (either verse)
Dialogue: Act 2 “I, madam, on abstract philosophy… (up to) It’s not. It’s right enough.”
Lady Psyche† - soprano or high mezzo (C4 – Ab5)
Like Blanche she is a senior tutor at the University. A softer, more sympathetic character than Blanche, she nevertheless is extremely intelligent, bookish, and probably cleverer than anyone else she has ever met. She is Florian’s sister, too, which means she is more likely of Ida’s generation and younger than Lady Blanche. Indeed she spent her early schooldays with Hilarion, Cyril and Florian.
Audition song: Act 2 “A Lady fair” (any verse)
Dialogue: Act 2. “These ladies are unseemly… (up to) the truth is always strong”
Melisa† - mezzo soprano or soprano (C4 – Eb5[G5])
Lady Blanche’s daughter and an undergraduate at the University. She has lived all her life there so has never encountered men. When she finally does meet them in the shape of Hilarion, Cyril and Florian she has no problems overcoming all Ida’s teachings and decides very quickly she rather likes them! Quick witted and bright, she is a fun character to play. The part has a small vocal range and can be done by any voice, but it needs a youthful quality.
Audition song: Act 2 “Now wouldn’t you like to rule the roost” (either verse)
Dialogue: Act 2. “Oh Lady Psyche… (up to) the scheme is harmless mother - wink at it”
†Ensemble lines in “The woman of the wisest wit” can be swapped depending on casting.
Sacharissa, Chloe, Ada
Students at Ida’s university, Sacharissa is supposed to be expelled for bringing a set of chessmen into the University but this doesn’t seem to come into effect as she has bits and pieces of dialogue in Act 2 and 3. All three characters let Ida down in her time of greatest need and find excuses why they shouldn’t fight Hildebrand’s army.
Audition Song: small character roles that consist of dialogue only.
Dialogue: Act 3. “Madam here… (up to) not in practice”
Chorus of Soldiers, Courtiers, “Girl Graduates,” “Daughters of the Plough,” etc.
Princess Ida features some of Sullivan’s finest music and is particularly demanding for the ensemble, featuring numerous separate male/female choruses and double choruses. This also makes it one of the most rewarding to perform, with the opportunity to take on various different roles and characters over the course of the opera.
We do not audition for chorus members. All are welcome — just come along!
Auditions for principal parts will take place on:
● Wednesday 31 January (6:50pm - 10pm at St Gabriel’s)
● Saturday 3 February (10am - 2pm, St Gabriel’s)
Auditions will last around ten minutes consist of a song of the candidate’s own choice and an extract of spoken libretto, followed by a brief chat. The audition songs listed above are suggestions, but candidates should feel free to choose any appropriate piece that shows them off to the best of their ability. In the interests of time, however, please select a section of around 2 minutes in duration.
You are not required to have learnt the audition material by heart and are welcome to sing/read from the music/script. However, it is in your interests to ensure you are familiar enough with the material to be able to perform freely and respond to direction.
If you wish to be considered for more than one part please indicate this on the audition form; however you will only be able to do one audition slot.
There is a £10 audition fee; please bring £10 along with you on the day of the audition. If you do join the production, this audition fee is then deducted from your membership fee (so for those who continue in a chorus or principal role, there is no additional cost for auditioning).
You can download the relevant libretto and dialogue here: http://gsarchive.net/princess_ida/pi_lib.pdf And an older version of the score from here: http://gsarchive.net/princess_ida/pi_vocalscore.pdf