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Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant

For our season finale we venture to the semi-fictional world of Princess Ida, for conductor John Wilson’s fresh take on Gilbert & Sullivan’s thorny 1884 comic opera.
London, Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall £5 - £82 Book Now



GILBERT & SULLIVAN Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant

Sophie Bevan Princess Ida
Benjamin Hulett Prince Hilarion
Robert Hayward King Hildebrand
Simon Butteriss King Gama/Narrator
Catherine Wyn-Rogers Lady Blanche
Bethany Horak-Hallett Lady Psyche
Marlena Devoe Melissa
Ruairi Bowen Cyril
Charles Rice Florian
Morgan Pearse Arac
Robert Davies Guron
Jonathan Brown Scynthius
Claire Ward Sacharissa

Greg Beardsell chorus master
John Wilson

This performance will be semi-staged with a narration, written and directed by Simon Butteriss


Princess Ida has forsworn men and set up a women only university at Castle Adamant. Her childhood betrothed, Prince Hilarion, is determined not to be denied his ‘right’. He enters the University in disguise with two friends. What follows is a series of inter-sex machinations as each camp attempts to settle matters in their favour. 

Sullivan produced some of his most sublime music in this opera, including the so-called ‘string of pearls’ in Act II featuring the exquisite quartet ‘The world is but a broken toy’. 

This alternate reality is, of course, a thinly disguised Britain in the grip of social upheaval. Based on Tennyson’s notably progressive poem ‘The Princess’, Gilbert’s plot sits against the backdrop of the emerging women’s rights movement and advances in women’s education. Liberal and conservative causes were both considered fair targets for the writer’s satire, raising interesting questions for us as time travellers encountering the work.