The Sorcerer (2004)

After the early and resounding success of their one-act opera “Trial By Jury” in 1875, Gilbert and Sullivan and their producer Richard D’Oyly Carte, decided to produce a full-length work. Gilbert expanded on one of his earlier writings based on a favourite operatic theme to create a plot about a magic love potion that would result in everyone falling in love with the wrong partner.

However, during their period of collaboration, the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan was not always sweet! Exactly twenty-one years to the day after its first performance, a revival of “the Sorcerer” was staged at The Savoy Theatre in London: Sullivan conducted and Gilbert was in the audience. At the end, there was a curtain call for author and composer; they entered from opposite ends of the stage, bowed to the audience, spoke not a word to each other nor cast a glance in the others direction and left the theatre never to see each other again. Sullivan died two years later in 1900.

Our scene is the village of Ploverleigh, where the villagers are gathering to celebrate the betrothal of Alexis, son of Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre, to Aline, daughter of Lady Sangazure. Alexis firmly believes that “the ecstasies of love” should be enjoyed by all and engages the services of Mr John Wellington Wells, the family sorcerer, to produce a potion that will cause all who drink it to fall asleep and, on waking, immediately fall in love with their first opposite acquaintance.

The effect of the potion is realised but, in sequences reminiscent of Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” (from which Gilbert may have borrowed the whole plot!), considerable confusion is caused by the various pairings and chaos threatens to reign supreme!

They appeal to Mr. Wells, who reveals that there is only one way in which the spell can be revoked. How is the problem resolved? Magic and mystery!