Utopia Limited


   

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Costume for King Paramount designed by Percy Anderson, 1893
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Utopia, Limited, or The Flowers of Progress opened October 7, 1893 at the Savoy Theatre and ran for 245 performances. It was the penultimate collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan, opening more than two years after Gondoliers had closed, and following a legal dispute between Gilbert on the one hand and Carte and Sullivan on the other, the famous "Carpet Quarrel". Despite their subsequent attempts to patch up their relationship, they would never again be on the same terms as the had been during the eighties.

Utopia was the most extravagantly costumed and staged of all the Savoy Operas. It requires a very large cast. Gilbert's libretto is less tightly constructed than its predecessors and for some the score represents the nadir of Sullivan's creative output. This may explain why it is revived less often than the earlier operas. But the piece is not without its admirers. George Bernard Shaw stated: "I enjoyed the score of Utopia more than that of any of the previous Savoy operas."

King Paramount of the south seas island of Utopia decides that his people should adopt all English customs and institutions, but he goes a bit overboard and decrees that the kingdom and each of its inhabitants should become a "company limited" based on the English "companies act" of 1862. The king's daughter, Princess Zara, brings six "flowers of progress" from England to train the Utopian people in "English" customs. But the reforms are too successful, which upsets the judges of the Utopian Supreme Court, the "Public Exploder" and ultimately the entire populace, which revolts against them. Zara realises that an essential element has been forgotten, namely "government by party". Introduce that and the result would be "general and unexampled prosperity".


Click on picture to enlarge
Costume design for Scaphio or Phantis by Percy Anderson, 1893

The Words


The Music

To the Web Opera

The Web Opera

All the Music
and
All the Lyrics
from this Opera

Illustrated with Historical Photographs of D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Productions

  • Marc Shepherd's Utopia, Limited Discography.
  • Vocal Score — the complete vocal score is available for downloading as Adobe Acrobat PDF files. Submitted to the Archive by Larry Byler. This is his own edition, with numerous corrections to the versions in the commercial printed editions. Revised October 2011.
  • IMSLP has an early edition of the vocal score available as a PDF file.
  • Orchestra score for No. 8, Ah! gallant soldier, brave and true, reconstructed to match the Chappell vocal score. Submitted to the Archive by Paul M. Scott.
  • Sources of Utopia Scores
  • Dance Arrangements
  • Musical Solutions — G&S MIDI Rehearsal Files — David Cookson's site includes MIDI rehearsal files for all the G&S Operas, plus Cox and Box and Haddon Hall.

Early Performances

Art Work

Discussion

  • Transcript of a discussion of Utopia, Limited by members of the SavoyNet distribution list, compiled by Nick Sales. This extensive discussion provides substantial background information on this opera, and is a must for anyone wanting to understand it better, produce it, or perform in it.

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Page modified 23 January, 2012