Federick was apprenticed to a pirate as a boy. He has come of age as the operetta opens and the pirate crew are celebrating his birthday and his graduating to a fully fledged pirate. Frederick, however, has decided that, having completed his apprenticeship, he intends to pursue an entirely different career: he informs the pirates of his intention of leaving their band and the seafaring life to return to the land, where pirates all are well-to-do. The Pirate King is shocked by the way in which Frederick intends to fritter away the solid education during which the King has been his mentor, but he puts no obstacle in Frederick's path, other than of insisting that he takes away with him his nursery maid, Ruth, who has been with him throughout his apprenticeship with the pirates. Frederick and Ruth go ashore where Frederick chances to see a group of young girls, daughters of Major General Stanley, who have come out for a walk on the beach. He finds himself emotionally attracted by all of them and repudiates Ruth, who had "won her way into his boyish heart". Most of the girls reluctantly reject Frederick's advances, but Mabel takes the plunge and goes for him. The pirates, who had intended to sail at the top of the tide, seem to have changed their minds and come ashore, whereupon many Gilbertian fantasies commence with Major Generals, policemen, Astronomers Royal and ill-natured fairies, after which all ends happily.
Containing lots of the usual Gilbertian fun along with the fresh music of a young Sullivan, "The Sorcerer" is the first extant full-length work of that duo.
Footnote (for the discriminating Savoyard)
An unfortunate error crept into the programme circulated to the audiences of "The Sorcerer". This is the statement the the character Dr. Daly is the only clergyman in the Savoy operas. In fact there are several others, of whom The Mikado (The Mikado), as the High Priest of Shinto is the most prominent example, closely followed in clerical power and prominence by Don Alhambra, the Grand Inquisitor (Gondoliers). Compared with these clerical eminences, Dr. Daly is small beer indeed. Another clergyman who must appear on stage is that ghostly baronet of Ruddygore who objects to the otherwise unanimous support for the carrying off by Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd of a lady. That character is certainly a clergyman, usually portrayed as a bishop. In addition to these four, two others are mentioned and may appear on stage at the discretion of the director : the Doctor of Divinity (Pirates) --- who did appear in the film version of the Broadway Pirates of the early 1980s, and Colonel Fairfax's confessor, (Yeomen) who is sometimes presented as a walk-on part. Another possibility (which I do not think has ever been staged) is to have a few of the Lord Bishops in the Peers chorus (Iolanthe), where they do indeed belong, as Phyllis is supposed to be being pursued by the entire House of Lords. We may also wish to speculate on whether the aetherializing profession of Tarara (Utopia) might place him in the clerical category.
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