We’re off to the Tower of London, where young Phoebe Meryll laments the impending death of the man she loves, Colonel Fairfax, a prisoner convicted of sorcery. The head jailor, Wilfred Shadbolt, is keen for the execution to take place as soon as possible so that he might claim Phoebe for himself, however she is insistently claims that Fairfax is innocent! Phoebe enlists the help of her father, Sergeant Meryll and brother Leonard, a newly appointed Yeoman, to get a reprieve for Fairfax and set him free. Fairfax reveals that the crimes he has been convicted of were actually commited by his cousin who stands to gain the entirety of his fortune should Fairfax die unwed, therefore he wishes to marry a maiden so that she would inherit the fortune instead. Enter Jack and Elsie, a travelling jester and singer who are looking to earn some money so that they can buy medicine for Elsie’s mother, who are approached and asked if Elsie would marry Fairfax, while reassuring Jack that the prisoner is scheduled to be executed that day, as Jack himself intends to wed Elsie. Meanwhile, Phoebe and her father have hatched a plan to distract Wilfred and set Fairfax free, having him pose as ‘Leonard’, though they are unaware that he has just undergone a secret marriage. Upon getting to know Elsie further, he falls in love with her, and Elsie falls in love with ‘Leonard’ as well! With Fairfax gone and Elsie still married to him, Wilfred, Phoebe and Jack are all keen to have him found for different reasons, will Fairfax get away with his escape and continue his life with Elsie? Can Wilfred and Jack figure out a way to get Fairfax out of the picture? And is Phoebe doomed to a life without the man she loves?
The first and only G&S opera to not have a traditional happy ending, this 1888 work comes after ‘Ruddigore’, is followed by ‘The Gondoliers’ and is the 11th of 14 collaborations between Gilbert and Sullivan. It is considered to be the work with the darkest plot, and has seen the music praised as some of Sullivan’s best work.
Our society has performed ‘The Yeomen of the Guard’ three times since 1983. To see the full page for the year you’re interested in, click on the relevant image below. To view the image galleries, head over to our Main Show page.
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