The Productions: Ruddigore
In London, The Mikado finally ended, and, not unexpectedly, the next Gilbert and Sullivan opera suffered badly by comparison. Although it contained some of Gilbert’s wittiest humor, had a mature score by Sullivan, was given an expensive production by Carte, and had costumes meticulously designed by Gilbert himself, audiences were ambivalent, and alterations were quickly made.
Originally titled Ruddygore, or The Witch’s Curse (1887), the opera was a spoof of popular melodrama. The title itself was criticized as being crude, and within a few days, it was changed to Ruddigore. The libretto went through three printings in eleven days to keep up with Gilbert’s textual changes. One month later, Carte sent a first-rate company to New York and, under its original name, Ruddygore opened at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, where it ran for only six weeks and was produced in few American cities.