Trial by Jury

From Academic Kids

This article is about the comic operetta. For the legal institution, see jury trial.
For the TV drama series, see Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

Trial by Jury is a comic Gilbert and Sullivan operetta in one act (the only single-act Savoy Opera). The music is by Sir Arthur S. Sullivan and the libretto by Sir William S. Gilbert. It was first produced in March 1875 in London at the Royalty Theatre, where it ran for 300 performances. It is still very popular for performance today, though its short length means that it rarely forms a full evening's entertainment.


The curtain rises on the Court of the Exchequer, where a jury is assembling to hear a case of breach of promise of marriage ("Hark, the Hour of Ten is Sounding"). It soon becomes clear that the jurymen's sympathies are predisposed to be with the plaintiff, Angelina, and when the defendant, Edwin, enters, he is treated with great hostility; he tries to persuade them that his is a reasonable position with his song "When First my Old, Old Love I Knew," but, being respectable middle-aged gentlemen, the jurors refuse to make any allowances for the fickleness of youth ("Oh, I was Like That When a Lad"). At this point the Judge enters with great pomp ("All Hail, Great Judge"), and decides to begin proceedings by giving a description of how he came to hold his position ("When I, Good Friends, was Called to the Bar"). Preliminaries dispensed with, the jury is sworn in and the plaintiff summoned into court: she arrives in full wedding dress accompanied by all her bridesmaids ("Comes the Broken Flower") and instantly captures the heart of all the jury, and particularly the Judge. Counsel for the plaintiff makes a moving speech in aria detailing Edwin's betrayal of Angelina ("With a Sense of Deep Emotion"), and Angelina sobs in the arms first of the foreman of the jury, and then the Judge. Edwin suggests that he will marry both women ("Oh Gentlemen, Listen, I Pray"), but the counsel for the plaintiff points out that this would be "burglaree". Perplexed, the court ponders a resolution to the situation ("A Nice Dilemma We Have Here"), until the Judge, impatient with all the objections and counter-objections, resolves the situation by proposing to marry Angelina himself. This is quite satisfactory, and the case is concluded "With Joy Unbounded".

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