In honour of the centennial of Ruddygore, Sarah Cole could not resist including this description of how the opera came to be called by that name. Many thanks to Ralph MacPhail, Jr., and Sarah Cole, who found the same rendition in separate volumes of the same work: Parodies of the Works of English and American Authors, dating from 1887-89 (you have some idea now as to what to expect!). This parody of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, presumably not long after the opera opened, since it describes the state of the work before the offensive "y" was dropped from Ruddigore. In any event, here it is:
Once upon a midnight dreary, Gilbert pondered weak and weary,
Thinking of a curious title for his new Comic Opera for,
When a volume from him flinging suddenly there came a ringing,
As of someone madly clinging to the bell at his front door;
"It is D'Oyly Carte," he muttered, "ringing at my big front door,
Merely this and nothing more."
Poking then the glowing ember, for 'twas cold as bleak December,
Gilbert said "Ah, I remember in the olden times of yore,
Yea, and shall I forget it never, though I were to live forever,
How I vainly did endeavour once to see my 'Pinafore,'
Sat and suffered awful anguish in the stalls at 'Pinafore.'
Just that once, but nevermore.
"For the feeling — sad, uncertain — at the rising of the curtain,
Thrilled me, filled me with such terrors, that a solemn oath I swore,
And the oath have oft repeated, that though kings and queens entreated,
I would ne'er again be seated in the stalls as once before,
There to try and see the piece, as I tried to do before,
Now to do so nevermore."
Open here was flung the portal by a pompous powdered mortal,
Who then ushered Mr. Carte in, as he oft had done before,
Not a moment stopped or stayed he, but a slight obeisance made he,
And in voice of thunder said he, "Mr. Carte" — then slammed the door,
And in tones stentorian said he, "Mr. Carte," — then slammed the door.
Only this and nothing more.
Mr. Carte then said quite coolly, "Mr. Gilbert, tell me truly,
Have you found a proper title our new Comic Opera for?
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, as you hope to go to Aidenn,
Have you really, really made 'un? Tell, O tell me, I implore!
Tell me what its funny name is — tell, O tell me, I implore!"
Answered Gilbert — "Ruddygore!"
Carte uprose, alarmed, astounded, by this title which confounded,
For this word of dreadful meaning such a world of horror bore;
And he said, "This title is gruesome, I feel very sure will do some
Injury, and we shall lose some thousands ere this piece is o'er
Such a name will surely ruin both your words and Arthur's score:
Therefore change it, I implore."
Then said Gilbert, calmly smoking, "D'Oyly Carte, you must be joking;
I have never found a title that I liked so much before,
For it gives the play the seeming of a drama that is teeming
With deeds of blood all streaming which the people gloat so o'er.
Of those deeds all grim and ghastly that the people gloat o'er;
Therefore be it Ruddygore."
And with title so unfitting, people still are nightly sitting
In the gallery, stalls, and boxes, from the ceiling to the floor;
And although they can't help at glancing at D. Lely(1) when he's dancing,
Think Miss Brandram's song(2) entrancing, and give Grossmith an encore,
Still all cry, "Oh, Gilbert, Gilbert, change this title "Ruddygore,"
Not in spelling — we want more. - * - * - * - * -
1 - The original Dick Dauntless.
2 - The original Dame Hannah, and the song in question is "There grew a little flower."
The entry concludes with this little story: "About a week after the production of Ruddygore, (January, 1887), when both the opera and its title were being adversely criticized, Mr. Gilbert jocularly remarked: "I propose altering the title of the piece, and calling it Kensington Gore, or, Not so good as the Mikado."