Shows B

THE BEAUTY STONE A romantic musical drama. Music by Arthur Sullivan, libretto by Arthur Wing Pinero and J. Comyns Carr. Savoy Theatre, London - 28 May 1898 - 16 July 1898 (50 performances) STORY Act I Scene 1 The scene takes place at the home of Simon Limal, a weaver. It is a sombre, wretched-looking dwelling. Simon and his wife, Joan, sing a duet about their dreary lives. Joan has sent their daughter, Laine, into the town to buy bread and draw water. Simon fears that Laine, who is ugly and crippled, will be mocked by the town folk. On her way home, Laine is accosted by townsfolk, who try to force her to kiss a dwarf. They all burst into Simon’s home. Laine’s water pitcher is broken, but Jacqueline rescues her from further harm. Philip, Lord of Mirlemont, has announced a beauty contest, which is to be held in the marketplace later that day, and has drawn beautiful girls from many adjoining towns. Laine dreams of getting a close look at the gallant Philip and his companion, Saida, but her mother discourages her. When her parents leave, Laine sings a prayer to the Virgin Mary: she wishes for beauty, so that she can experience love; otherwise, she wishes to die. The Devil arrives, although she mistakes him for a holy friar. He offers his sympathy and says that he has an answer to her prayers in the form of a magical stone that confers perfect beauty to anyone who wears it. Laine’s parents return. Though initially surprised to find a stranger in their midst, they too believe that the Devil is a holy man. The Devil further explains the stone’s magical powers. Simon eagerly accepts the stone and gives it to Laine, who goes to her chamber to put it on. Joan fears that the stone may bring bad luck with it. The Devil explains that he has often given the stone away, but it always comes back. However, all of their doubts are overlooked when Laine re-enters, wondrously beautiful. Scene 2 In the marketplace of Mirlemont, the people of the town gather for the beauty contest. A competitor crowned with lilies enters with her supporters, but most of the townspeople doubt that she will win. The Devil, now posing as a nobleman, has a letter of introduction to Lord Philip, which he presents to Guntran, Philip’s loyal friend. Guntran complains that Philip is distracted by the pursuit of beauty and is not sufficiently attentive to warfare. The Devil comments that Mirlemont is a more “vastly interesting” place than he had expected. He recruits Jacqueline, disguising her as a boy, Jacques, to serve as his page. Philip and his entourage enter for the beauty contest. Several maidens vie for his attention, but he is not impressed with any of them. The Devil suggests that, as there is “so little beauty” in Mirlemont, the Prince should instead order the ugliest man, the dwarf Peppin, to marry the ugliest woman. The Burgomaster suggests the weaver’s daughter, Laine. The chorus call for Laine, but when she enters, she is now transcendently beautiful. Philip is entranced, but the rest of the townsfolk suspect she is a witch. Philip is convinced that anyone so beautiful must be innocent, and he anoints her as fairest of the fair. Act II Scene 1 In a hall in Castle Mirlemont, Philip plays cards with a party of knights and ladies. A messenger from the Duke of Burgundy arrives, requesting Philip’s presence in battle, but Philip refuses, saying that he is no longer a man of war. Saida, Philip’s former favourite, tells the Devil that Laine must be burned at the stake for witchcraft. The Devil advises her that she should instead try to learn for herself the mysterious secret behind Laine’s sudden transformation. Saida dances for Philip. She briefly recaptures his attention, but he transfers it