Savoy Theatre, Strand, London
Princess Ida followed Iolanthe into the Savoy, opening on 5th January 1884.
Though Sullivan was less than enthusiastic about Gilbert’s proposed idea to rework an earlier production of Gilbert’s “The Princess”, he preferred it to the initial suggestion which concerned a magic lozenge. “The Princess” had been put on at the Olympic Theatre in 1870 and it was a ‘Whimsical Allegory (being a Respectful Operatic per-version of Mr. Tennyson’s Poem)’.
Although described as a prologue and two acts, Princess Ida was virtually a three act opera, the first Gilbert had written. There were no front cloth scenes so that the entire stage was needed for each act. On opening night there were lengthy waits. It was eleven o’clock before the curtain rose on Act III. A wit in the gallery started ‘We won’t go home until morning’ and the rest of the house applauded sympathetically. Despite this the performance was greeted with rapturous applause.
Princess Ida played at the Savoy until 9th October 1884.