OP3077. THE GRAND DUKE (Gilbert & Sullivan), recorded 1976, w.Royston Nash Cond.Royal Phil. & D'Oyly Carte Ensemble; Reed, Reid, Sandford, Rayner, Ayldon, etc.; Mackerras Cond. Philharmonia Orch.: Overture di Ballo - recorded 1982; Royaston Nash Cond. Royal Phil.: Henry VIII - March and Graceful Dance - recorded 1974 (both Sullivan). 2-London 436 813. - 028943681322
“THE GRAND DUKE or ‘The Statutory Duel’, is the final Savoy Opera written by librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, their fourteenth and last opera together. It premiered at the Savoy Theatre on 7 March 1896, and ran for 123 performances. Despite a successful opening night, the production had a relatively short run and was the partnership's only financial failure, and the two men never worked together again. In recent decades, the opera has been revived professionally, first in the US and then in the UK.
In THE GRAND DUKE, Gilbert and Sullivan come full circle, back to the theme of their first collaboration, THESPIS: a troupe of actors taking political power. The plot hinges on the mis-interpretation of a 100-year-old law regarding statutory duels (decided by drawing cards). The baffled leading man of the troupe, Ludwig, spearheads the rebellion against the hypochondriac, miserly Grand Duke and becomes engaged to four different women before the plot is resolved. The frugality and phoniness of the wealthy classes and the nobility is lampooned and, as in PRINCESS IDA, THE MIKADO, THE GONDOLIERS, and UTOPIA, LIMITED, the foreign setting emboldens Gilbert to use some particularly pointed satire. Sullivan's varied score includes lilting Viennese waltz music.”
- Hans Lick