The Burglars Opera

Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan
Arranged by Jeff Clarke
Book by Stephen Wyatt after a short story by W S Gilbert
Lyrics by Jeff Clarke

First performance: The Theatre, Chipping Norton. 23 September 2005

with the following cast:

Septimus Golightly Edward Gower
Theodore Golightly/PC Brown Ian Belsey
Lucretia Golightly/Phoebe Kirsty Hoiles
Elvira Chloe Wright
Matron/The Marchioness of Market-Harborough Louise Crane
Horatio Bunthunder Stephen Brown
Jailor/Jeremiah Stoneleigh/Ebenezer Fudge Graham Hoadly
Director Jeff Clarke
Designer Gabriella Csanyi-Wills
Choreographer Jenny Arnold
Musical Arrangements Stephen Brown
Lighting Designer Amy Southern
Stage Manager Jeremy Rowe
Wardrobe Denise Crane




The Burglar's OperaFor the last three years Opera della Luna has been investigating Offenbach with La Belle Helene, Robinson Crusoe, and this year The Tales of Hoffmann. It was clear that it was time to come up with a new production to satisfy our hungry, and not insubstantial G &S following. However I was not convinced that the treatment we had given to Mikado, Ruddigore, Pirates and Pinafore was necessarily right for another of the canon.
In the autumn of 2004 I heard Stephen Wyatt’s adaptations of some of Gilbert’s short stories on Radio 4 – and The Burglar’s Story in particular seemed to me the perfect basis for a G&S inspired show, but one with a greater degree of originality. I contacted Stephen and together we began.

My plan was to unearth little-known Sullivan in the way Wyatt had “discovered” this bit of Gilbert. My rule was not to use any music by Sullivan that already had words to it, and so the themes that form the basis of the score are from his not inconsiderable orchestral output, including some incidental music written for Henry Irving at the Lycuem.
Let us be clear; our intention is not to produce a fake G&S opera. Exactly what we have produced must be judged tonight.




The Burglar's Story

Gilbert's short story was first published in Routledge's Annual for 1890.

When I became eighteen years of age, my father, a distinguished begging-letter imposter, said to me, “Reginald, I think it is time that you began to think about choosing a profession.”
The Burglar's OperaThese were ominous words. Since I left Eton, nearly a year before, I had spent my time very pleasantly, and very idly, and I was sorry to see my long holiday drawing to a close. My father had hoped to send me to Cambridge (Cambridge was a tradition in our family), but business had been very depressed of late, and a sentence of six month’s hard labour had considerably strained my poor father’s resources.
It was necessary – highly necessary – that I should choose a calling. With a sigh of resignation I admitted as much.
“If you like,” said my father, “I will take you in hand, and teach you my profession, and in a few years perhaps, I may take you into partnership; but to be candid with you, I doubt it is a satisfactory calling for an athletic young fellow like you. Now I should like to consult your own tastes on so important a matter as the choice of profession. The Army?”
No I didn’t care for the army.
“Forgery? The Bar? Cornish wrecking?”
“Father,” said I, “I should like to be a forger, but I write such an infernal hand.”
“A regular Eton hand,” said he. “Not plastic enough for forgery.”
“No,” said I, “I should never make my fortune at it. As for wrecking – why you know how sea-sick I am. No, I won’t be a wrecker. I think I should like to be a burglar…………”


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