I am memorizing a scene from Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan (my favorites!) I don't know how many G&S fans there are out there (holla!) but I LOVE it. I seriously do. There is nothing funnier to me. I die a little each time I read the libretto to Ruddigore. It kills me with hilarity that Mad Margaret's secret word to recall her sanity is Basingstoke. Can I explain it? no. I cannot.
The only thing that may be funnier than the Chorus of Professional Bridesmaids in Ruddigore may be the Sausage Roll Chorus in the Grand Duke. (you must eat a sausage roll, a sausage roll)
If ever one day I go a-missing, you will find me somewhere in a coastal town in Maine rallying townsfolk for a Gilbert & Sullivan Society. We will be in a town hall throwing buckets of water and dancing a horn-pipe. Here's the dialogue:
ROSE. A maiden, and in tears? Can I do aught to soften thy sorrow? This apple – (offering apple).
MAR. (Examines it and rejects it.) No! (mysteriously) Tell me, are you mad?
ROSE. I? No! That is, I think not.
MAR. That’s well! Then you don’t love Sir Despard Murgatroyd? All mad girls love him. I love him. I’m poor Mad Margaret – Crazy Meg – Poor Peg! He! he! he! he! (chuckling).
ROSE. Thou lovest the bad Baronet of Ruddigore? Oh, horrible – too horrible!
MAR. You pity me? Then be my mother! The squirrel had a mother; but she drank and the squirrel fled! Hush! They sing a brave song in our parts – it runs somewhat thus: (sings) “The cat and the dog and the little puppee Sat down in a – down in a – in a –” I forget what they sat down in, but so the song goes! Listen – I’ve come to pinch her!
ROSE. Mercy, whom?
MAR. You mean “who”.
ROSE. Nay! it is the accusative after the verb.
MAR. True. (Whispers melodramatically.) I have come to pinch Rose Maybud!
ROSE. (Aside, alarmed.) Rose Maybud!
MAR. Aye! I love him – he loved me once. But that’s all gone. Fisht! He gave me an Italian glance – thus (business) – and made me his. He will give her an Italian glance, and make her his. But it shall not be, for I’ll stamp on her – stamp on her – stamp on her! Did you ever kill anybody? No? Why not? Listen – I killed a fly this morning! It buzzed, and I wouldn’t have it. So it died – pop! So shall she!
ROSE. But, behold, I am Rose Maybud, and I would fain not die “pop.”
MAR. You are Rose Maybud?
ROSE. Yes, sweet Rose Maybud!
MAR. Strange! They told me she was beautiful! And he loves you! No, no! If I thought that, I would treat you as the auctioneer and land-agent treated the lady-bird – I would rend you asunder!
ROSE. Nay, be pacified, for behold I am pledged to another, and lo, we are to be wedded this very day!
MAR. Swear me that! Come to a Commissioner and let me have it on affidavit! I once made an affidavit – but it died – it died – it died! But see, they come – Sir Despard and his evil crew! Hide, hide – they are all mad – quite mad!
ROSE. What makes you think that?
MAR. Hush! They sing choruses in public. That’s mad enough, I think! Go – hide away, or they will seize you! Hush! Quite softly – quite, quite softly!
My husband and I are both opera singers, and in the fall we moved from NYC to Michigan, where he is now a professor of voice and opera at Oakland University. In January we bought our first house-- an 1895 Victorian, and we're expecting our first child (a boy) in April.