Ruddigore Review II – Stanford Savoyards complete their afternoon of eerie fun

“What’s in a name?” asks the Bard.¬† A great deal, according to the appearance and actions of Richard Copperwaite, a welcome import from England.¬†

Richard Copperwaite: one actor - two names

In Act I we knew him as Robin Oakapple, a gentle, naťĮve, innocent, painfully shy farm lad.¬† But if you recall the Finale of Act I, he was revealed to be Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, the evil baronet of Ruddigore.¬† Thanks to his acting ability and to the skills of Makeup Designer¬†Kacey Marton, it’s hard to believe that he is really the same person.

But you soon sense that underneath the surface he is unchanged – he’s still the same sweet nice guy.¬† He is forced to commit crimes, but is miserable over the fact.¬† There is a wonderful bit of pantomime at the beginning of the act is which he squirms from one position to another in a large wing chair, ending up in an almost fetal position – but unable to attain peace of mind.¬† Because of this inner agony, I’ll continue to call him Robin.

In his own words,

For a week I have fulfilled my accursed doom!  I have duly committed a crime a day! Not a great crime, I trust, but still, in the eyes of one as strictly regulated as I used to be, a crime.  But will my ghostly ancestors be satisfied with what I have done, or will they regard it as an unworthy subterfuge?

Robin and some ancestral ghosts, including Sir Roderic (Graham Roth) R

The ghosts are not satisfied.¬† The music takes an ominous tone, there is darkness and a flash of brilliant light, and they have all stepped from their portraits led by Robin’s immediate forbearer, Sir Roderic (Graham Roth).¬† In one of the musical highlights of the opera he sings a rousing ghost song:

When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls, and the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds, sail over the midnight skies¬†—
When the footpads quail at the night-bird’s wail, and black dogs bay at the moon,
Then is the spectres’ holiday¬†—¬†then is the ghosts’ high-noon!

CHORUS.  Ha! ha!
Then is the ghosts’ high-noon!

Followed by two more verses.

Sir Roderic demands an accounting of what crimes Robin has committed during the past week; it is less than impressive since it consisted of such items as a false income tax return, forging his own will, and disinheriting his own son in advance.¬† The ghosts agree he must do better, starting today by carrying off a lady.¬† Robin balks, whereupon Sir Roderic says,¬† “let the agonies commence.”

The ancestral ghosts torture Robin

At this point the libretto merely says,¬† “Ghosts make passes.¬† Robin begins to writhe in agony.”¬† Producer¬†Michelle Goldring¬†added a vocal element by having them all sing Mabel’s beautiful aria Poor Wandering One¬†from¬†Pirates of Penzance, each in a different key and off-key.¬† Fortunately for the audience it doesn’t take Robin long to capitulate, and the ancestral ghosts return to their picture frames.

Robin sends Adam off to the village to “Go – go to yonder village – carry off a maiden – bring her here at once – any one – I don’t care which.

Hannah threatens Robin

Well, the maiden Adam brings back, blindfolded, over his shoulder is no tender teenager but the formidable Dame Hannah.  As you can see from the above picture, she is more than a match for Robin!

Hannah and Sir Roderic reunite their love

Robin, terrified, calls to Sir Despard for help.  Despard helps him up, sends him away as inconsequential, and turns to Hannah:

ROD.  Little Nannikin!
HAN.  Roddy-Doddy
ROD.  This is a strange meeting after so many years!
HAN.  Very.  I thought you were dead.
ROD.  I am.  I died ten years ago.
HAN.  And are you pretty comfortable?
ROD.  Pretty well Рthat is Рyes, pretty well.

They continue with a musically lovely but somewhat irrelevant ballad about “a pretty little flower” and “a great oak tree”.

Their lovemaking is interrupted by Robin who presents the following syllogism: According to the CURSE:

  1. A Baronet of Ruddigore will die if and only if he refuses to commit his daily crime.
  2. Therefore, refusal to commit a daily crime is tantamount to suicide.
  3. But suicide is a crime.


  1. None of you has died.
  2. Sir Rupert, the First Baronet still has the title.
  3. I am not and have never been the Baronet.

“And they all lived happily ever after”

Stanford Savoyards
c/o ASSU, Old Union – 1st floor
520 Lasuen Mall, Quad 2, Building 580
Stanford, CA 94305

All photos by Raen Payne

P. S. Attn: All nitpickers and logicians.
Given that in this operatic setting ghosts, witches, and curses are all part of reality, is Robin’s ERGO valid?¬† I’m satisfied; are you?

This review by Philip G Hodge appeared in on May 24, 2012.

This entry was posted in Opera Review, Operetta Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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