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Haddon Hall

Light opera in three acts; music by Arthur Sullivan; libretto by Sydney Grundy.

Savoy Theatre on September 24, 1892 (204 perfs). The opera, set at the eponymous hall, tells the story of Dorothy Vernon's elopement with John Manners in the 17th century.

The piece was popular with amateur theatre groups, particularly in Britain, through the 1920s, but it has been produced only sporadically since then.


It is 1660, just before the Restoration of the Monarchy. Sir George Vernon, a Royalist, is in a property dispute with his cousin, Rupert Vernon, a Roundhead (i.e., a supporter of Parliament). Sir George fears that this dispute will be resolved in favour of his cousin, who has strong ties to the current government, and that his family would lose Haddon Hall. To secure the estate's long-term future, Sir George has arranged a marriage between Rupert and his only surviving child, Dorothy Vernon. But Dorothy is in love with John Manners, the impoverished second son of the Earl of Rutland. Manners, who is also a Royalist, is of no use to Sir George, and he has forbidden their union.


The opera begins with an offstage chorus in praise of the "stately homes of England."

Act I — "The Lovers"

Scene. — The Terrace.

It is Dorothy Vernon's wedding day. The Vernons' maid, Dorcas, sings an allegory about "a dainty dormouse" (Dorothy) and "a stupid old snail" (Rupert), making clear that her sympathies lie with Dorothy, who is in love with "a gallant young squirrel" (John Manners). Sir George, Lady Vernon, and Dorothy enter. Sir George urges Dorothy to cheer up, so that she will make a good impression on her cousin, Rupert. Dorothy reminds her father that she loves John Manners. Sir George replies that Manners would be a suitable husband only if he will swear an oath in support of parliament. Dorothy knows that Manners will never do this, and Sir George orders her to marry her cousin. Dorothy asks for her mother's support, but Lady Vernon cannot help her.
Drawing of scene from Finale, Act I

Oswald enters, disguised as a traveling seller of housewares. He is actually John Manners's servant, carrying a letter for Dorothy. He encounters Dorothy's handmaiden, Dorcas, and the two servants quickly become enamored of one another. When Dorothy appears, Oswald gives her the letter. Manners has proposed that they elope, and Dorothy must finally decide where her loyalties lie. When Manners arrives, Dorothy tells him that her father will not allow them to be married unless he forswears his support for the king. Manners reiterates that he will not compromise his principles, and Dorothy assures him that her love is stronger than ever.

Rupert Vernon arrives with his companions, a group of Puritans. He has joined them because their connections to the current government will help him claim the title to Haddon Hall. But he admits that he is otherwise unsympathetic to the Puritan ideals of celibacy and self-abnegation. Rupert introduces the Puritans to the Vernon household, who make it clear they are not welcome. Sir George offers his daughter's hand, but Lady Vernon and Dorothy once again urge him to relent. Dorothy says she must be true to her heart. A furious Sir George orders her to her chamber, and threatens to disown her. Rupert and the Puritans are shocked to learn that they have been refused.

Act II — "The Elopement"

Scene 1. — Dorothy Vernon's Door.

It is a stormy night. Rupert and the Puritans are camped outside the house, because their conscientious scruples will not allow them to join the party indoors. They are joined by The McCrankie, a particularly strict Puritan from the Isle of Rum, in Scotland, who sings a song accompanied on the bagpipes. However, he is not beyond the occasional snort from his whisky flask, and he offers the Puritans a "drappie."

After the rest of the Puritans leave, Rupert and McCrankie sing a duet about how they would rule the world, "if we but had our way." Dorcas enters to meet Oswald, but they intercept her. As no one else is looking, Rupert and McCrankie want to steal a kiss, but Dorcas rebuffs them.

Oswald arrives to tell Dorcas that the horses are saddled, and ready to go. She is fearful for Dorothy's safety, and Oswald promises that he will protect her. Manners enters, then Dorothy. She sings a farewell to her home, and they flee in a violent storm.

Scene 2. — The Long Gallery.

As the storm dies away, the scene changes to the Long Gallery. Sir George proposes a toast to "the grand old days of yore." Rupert and McCrankie drag in Dorcas, with the news that Dorothy has eloped with Manners. The frantic Sir George orders horses and gathers up his men to chase after them, with Rupert and the Puritans following. Lady Vernon predicts that the chase will be unsuccessful.
Act III — "The Return"

Scene. — The Ante-Chamber.

The chorus have all become Puritans, under Rupert's tutelage. Rupert informs them that the lawsuit has been resolved in his favour, and he is now Lord of Haddon Hall. Although he has generously permitted Sir George and Lady Vernon to remain on the estate, they have no intention of staying. Lady Vernon likens the loss of their home to the death of a rose. Alone together, she begs and then receives her husband's forgiveness, admitting that it was she who urged her daughter to flee. They re-affirm their love.

Oswald enters, now in uniform, with the news that King Charles II has been restored to the throne, and claimed Haddon Hall as crown property. Rupert is in disbelief, and refuses to yield. Meanwhile, the Puritans decide to go on strike, practicing their self-effacing principles only eight hours a day. The chorus fling down their books and decide to dedicate their lives "to Cupid." Rupert seeks McCrankie's counsel, only to find that his friend has replaced his kilt with breeches. McCrankie explains that, after several snorts from his flask, he has finally decided to abandon Puritanism.

A cannon sounds, and Manners enters with soldiers. He has a warrant from the king, re-instating Sir George as Lord of Haddon Hall. He introduces Dorothy as his wife. She explains that she had followed her heart's counsel, and her father forgives her.

Musical numbers

Introduction... "Ye stately homes of England" (Offstage Chorus)

Act I — "The Lovers"

  1. Today it is a festal time (Chorus)
    1a. 'Twas a dear little doormouse (Dorcas and Chorus)
    1b. When the budding bloom of may (Sir George, Lady Vernon, and Dorothy with Dorcas and Chorus)
  2. Nay, father dear (Dorothy, Lady Vernon, and Sir George)
  3. Mother, dearest mother (Dorothy and Lady Vernon)
  4. Ribbons to sell (Oswald and Chorus)
  5. The sun's in the sky (Dorcas and Oswald)
  6. My mistress comes (Dorothy, Dorcas, and Oswald)
  7. Oh, tell me what is a maid to say (Dorothy, Dorcas, and Oswald)
  8. The earth is fair... Sweetly the morn doth break (Dorothy and Manners)
    8a. Why weep and wait?... Red of the Rosebud (Dorothy)
  9. Down with princes (Chorus of Puritans)
  10. I've heard it said (Rupert)
  11. The bonny bridegroom cometh (Chorus with Rupert and Puritans)
    11a. When I was but a little lad (Rupert with Chorus)
    11b. To thine own heart be true (Dorothy with Company)

Act II — The Elopement

Scene 1

  1. Hoarsely the wind is howling (Chorus of Puritans with Rupert)
  2. My name it is McCrankie (McCrankie)
  3. There's no one by (Rupert and McCrankie)
  4. Hoity-Toity, what's a kiss? (Dorcas, Rupert, and McCrankie)
  5. The west wind howls (Dorcas, Oswald, and Manners)
    16a. Oh, heart's desire (Dorothy and Manners)
    16b. Storm

Scene 2

16c. In days of old (Sir George and Company)

Act III — The Return

  1. Our heads we bow (Puritans and Chorus)
  2. Queen of the Garden (Lady Vernon and Chorus)
  3. Alone, alone... Bride of my youth (Lady Vernon and Sir George)
  4. In frill and feather (Dorcas, Rupert, and Chorus)
  5. Good General Monk (Oswald, Rupert, and Puritans)
    21a. We have thought the matter out (Dorcas, Rupert, Puritans, and Chorus)
  6. Hech mon! Hech mon! (McCrankie and Chorus)
    22a. Scotch Dance
  7. Hark! The cannon! (Company)


John Manners (tenor)
Sir George Vernon (baritone)
Oswald (tenor)
Rupert Vernon (baritone)   Roundhead
The McCrankie (bass-baritone)
Sing-Song Simeon (bass)
Kill-Joy Candleman (non-singing)
Nicodemus Knock-Knee (bass)
Barnabas Bellows-to-Mend (bass)
Major Domo (baritone)    
Dorothy Vernon (soprano)    
Lady Vernon (contralto)    
Dorcas (mezzo-soprano)    
Nance (mezzo-soprano)    
Gertrude (mezzo-soprano)    
Deborah (soprano)