The Emerald Isle

The Emerald Isle; or, The Caves of Carrig-Cleena, is a two-act comic opera, with music by Arthur Sullivan and Edward German, and a libretto by Basil Hood. The plot concerns the efforts of an Irish patriot to resist the oppressive "re-education" programme of the English, which has robbed the Irish of their cultural heritage. A quirky "Professor of Elocution" who is hired by the English to continue this "re-education" of the Irish switches sides to help the Irish. Romantic complications cause a confrontation between the Irish patriots and the superstitious English at the supposedly haunted caves of Carric-Cleena, and disguises are employed to hold the English off; but the professor ultimately comes up with a solution that works out happily for all.

The opera premiered at the Savoy Theatre on 27 April 1901, closing on 9 November 1901 after a run of 205 performances. The opening night cast included such Savoy regulars as Robert Evett, Walter Passmore, Henry Lytton, Rosina Brandram, Isabel Jay and Louie Pounds. The opera was given a production in New York City at the Herald Square Theatre for 50 performances, opening on 1 September 1902 and closing on 18 October 1902. The New York cast included Kate Condon as Molly and Jefferson De Angelis as Bunn. It was revived in 1935 at the Prince's Theatre (now the Shaftesbury Theatre) in London.

Modern professional productions of the work have been rare. The Prince Consort (an Edinburgh-based performing group) recorded the piece in Britain live in performance at the fringe of the Edinburgh Festival in 1982. The piece was also given in Edinburgh and then Torquay, England, in 1998. Another live recording (with dialogue) was made in 2001 as a centenary production at the Alexander Theatre of the Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia, by the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Victoria (now known as Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Victoria). Amateur groups in Britain produced the piece regularly through the 1920s and occasionally thereafter. A concert of the opera was performed by Valley Light Opera in Amherst, Massachusetts on March 8, 2008 with a narration written by Jonathan Strong. This was the first known U.S. performance of the opera with full orchestra since 1902.

Read more about The Emerald Isle:  History, Roles and Original Cast, Musical Numbers

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