Gilbert and Sullivan's Princess Ida
In Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant, Gilbert satirizes feminism, women's education and Darwinian evolution, which were controversial topics in conservative Victorian England. The operetta is based on a narrative poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, called The Princess, written in 1847. Gilbert had written a farcical musical play, based on the poem, in 1870, and lifted much of the dialogue of Princess Ida directly from his 1870 farce. Princess Ida is the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera in three acts and the only one with dialogue in blank verse. Inasmuch as the story of Princess Ida is a fairy tale that satirizes Victorian England, our directors have decided to set it as SteamPunk, that is, science fiction rooted in the technology and culture of the 19th century. This rendering allows us to explore modern images of gender role and identity and still embrace the fantastical story and very Victorian mores of the characters. It also gives great possibilities for costumes and set for this production at Howard Conn Fine Arts Center in Minneapolis.
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