Princess Ida


Links to the different times
we have performed this show:

1985 2004



"Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant" opened on 5 January 1884 at the Savoy Theatre and ran for 246 performances. It is the only three act Gilbert and Sullivan Opera and the only one with dialogue in blank verse. This is because Gilbert based his libretto on his earlier play The Princess which, in turn, he described as "a perversion" of Tennyson's poem of the same name.

It was produced between Iolanthe and The Mikado when its creators were at the height of their powers. The score is Sullivan at his best, and some people consider that Gilbert's libretto contains some of his funniest lines.



Act 1 takes place in a pavilion attached to the palace of King Hildebrand, where Courtiers and Ladies await the arrival of King Gama and his daughter Ida.
Ida was betrothed in infancy to Hilarion, Hildebrand's son, and Gama is bound by contract to bring her to Hildebrand's court today.
Gama and his three sons arrive without the Princess, and reveal that Ida, having foresworn men, now rules a women's University.
Hildebrand holds Gama and his sons as hostages for the surrender of Ida.
Meanwhile, Hilarion with Cyril and Florian, decide to seek out the University and win the Princess with "Expressive glances....."

Act 2 shows the grounds of Castle Adamant, the University, where the girl graduates receive their inaugural address from Princess Ida.
As they leave, Hilarion, Cyril and Florian appear and disguise themselves as graduates.
Unfortunately they are discovered by Psyche, Florian's sister, and also by Melissa and Lady Blanche, but for reasons of their own they keep the secret.
At luncheon, Cyril gets drunk and betrays all three men. In the ensuing confusion, Ida falls into a stream and is rescued by Hilarion. In spite of this, Ida has them arrested, and refuses to release them even after the castle is stormed by Hildebrand and his troops.
Hildebrand gives Ida until the following afternoon to consider her decision.

Act 3
As act 3 opens, the girls reluctantly prepare to defy the invaders.
The Princess, unable to rouse their enthusiasm, realises she will have to face Hildebrand and his troops alone.
Gama temporarily released by Hildebrand, pleads with Ida to let her fate depend upon a fight between her brothers and Hilarion, Cyril and Florian. At first she refuses but, on seeing her father's reduced state and obvious "torture" at the hand of Hildebrand, yields to Gama's request.