Sir Richard Cholmondley
(Lieutenant of the Tower) IAN FERGUSON
(a Strolling Singer) LYNDA SMART
The Headsman DAVID
STORY OF THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD 2003
Fairfax persuades his old friend the Lieutenant of the Tower to help him in this. Jack Point, a strolling jester and his girl Elsie Maynard happen to come to the Tower and Elsie agrees to be Fairfax's Wife for 100 crowns. There is a hasty marriage.
Elsie returns to Jack Point who is in love with Elsie although she is unable to return his feelings. Sergeant Meryll whose life Fairfax saved in battle, arranges for Fairfax to escape by impersonating his son Leonard who in any event has come to join the Yeomen. Phoebe obtains the keys of the cell from Wilfred Shadbolt (who constantly woos Phoebe) as she is secretly in love with Fairfax.
All is prepared
for the execution of Fairfax when it is announced that he has escaped.
The first act ends amid general confusion but with the overpowering realisation
by Elsie that she is still a Wife when she had by now expected to be a
Wilfred is to fire his gun and tell everyone that he has killed Fairfax whose body has sunk into the river. This would make Elsie a widow and she would be free to marry Jack Point and enable Wilfred to be back in favour with the Lieutenant. Fairfax meanwhile continues to serve as a Yeoman (albeit under the guise of Leonard Meryll) and is delighted to discover that Elsie is the unknown person he married.
The climax is reached when the real Leonard Meryll arrives with a belated pardon for Fairfax who can therefore reveal his real name and claim Elsie as the girl he married. In order to cover up their connivance Sergeant Meryll agrees to marry Dame Carruthers and Phoebe agrees to marry Wilfred. But what becomes of Jack Point?
OF THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD 2003
The Opera was originally called "The Tower of London" The Opera is very different from the rest of the G & S canon. It is more serious than Gilbert's previous plots having a tragic story of un-requited love, together with several other stories of a comic nature.
The characters are more believable than in previous operas. The tragi-comic Jack Point has been likened to Gilbert himself, with his ability to hide unpalatable truths behind his nonsense; Phoebe is a woman prepared to risk her life to save Fairfax from execution; Elsie is a Wife faithful to a husband she has never seen; Dame Carruthers is the wise woman of the story; Wilfred Shadbolt is a parody of the Victorian melodramatic villain. Finally, Sir Richard, The Lieutenant, really did exist with that name and in that role.
Sullivan, who had always wanted to write a Grand Opera, was also very excited by Gilbert's work and produced some of his finest melodies in setting the words to music. Sullivan was unable to find a tune for the song "I have a song to sing 0" and on mentioning this to Gilbert, Gilbert hummed the tune he had in mind when he wrote the words and that became the tune that Sullivan wrote. The only occasion in the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas where Gilbert provided both words & music.
"The Yeomen of the Guard" opened on October 3rd 1888 and achieved a run of 423 performances.