Words by Basil Hood and Music by Arthur Sullivan
Watts Hall,
March 1926
Cast List
The Sultan Mahmoud of Persia
The Grand Vizier
The Physician-in-Chief
The Royal Executioner
Soldier of the Guard
The Sultana
Heart's Desire
Dancing Sunbeam

Notes on this performance

3. The Rose of Persia 

A Sullivan opera…

The Rose of Persia was the last opera completed by Sullivan, this collaboration with Basil Hood came in 1899, some three years after The Grand Duke, his last work with Gilbert. The Rose of Persia was quite successful, enjoying a run of 211 performances at the Savoy Theatre before going on a tour of England and America. It is still performed occasionally by amateur groups (a concert version was presented at Buxton in 2008) and there was a professional production in New York in 2007.

The Above Bar Guild Musical and Dramatic Society’s production of 1926 was apparently received very well; The Echo ran two reviews of the show – one stating, ‘There have been several good shows by the Above Bar Guild Musical and Dramatic Society, but none better than the comic opera The Rose of Persia, the first performance of which was given at Watts Hall last night before a most appreciative audience,’ whilst the other began, ‘The Above Bar Guild Musical and Dramatic Society is gaining quite a reputation for its excellent productions, and its laurels are further enhanced this week by four performances of the Rose of Persia (Hood and Sullivan) given at the Watts’ Hall.’ 

The topsy-turvy plot includes mistaken identities, the constant threat of executions, an overbearing wife and a fearsome monarch who is fond of practical joking – all staples of the G&S genre. Edith Ashdown and Mr C J Andrews were again the directing team and they had a large cast of 59 (including 18 principals). The Echo admitted that, ‘all parts were ably sustained and the chorus was well balanced and sang well and showed careful training.’ but singled out the following for special mention…

‘Mr. Basil Wells makes a great hit, He takes the part of Hassan, the man with a score of wives, he has several numbers to his credit and sings capitally. Mr. H W Adcock makes a masterly Sultan and with Rose-in-Bloom (Miss Eva Thorne) he gives a fine rendering of “Suppose, I Say, Suppose,” which is vociferously applauded.

Mr. G Wetherill’s interpretation of the part of Yussef (a story teller) is excellent, and he acts and sings extremely well, especially in the scene with Heart’s Desire (Miss Connie Cross).  Mr. J Riddington is another who shines, he makes a capital Grand Vizier and Mr. A J Tomalin also does well. Miss Eva Thorne makes a stately Sultana, and whether playing the part as a singer looking for engagement or as a Sultana, does exceedingly well and last night she was in excellent voice. Miss MacLachlan was another who did splendidly, as also did Heart’s Desire (Miss Cross), whose work was admirable. Miss Gladys Ferguson played the part of Blush-of-the-Morning very cleverly, and Miss I Beadle made a splendid Dancing Sunbeam.’

It was announced in the following programme that £501 2s 11d had been handed to charities so, presumably, The Rose of Persia and the play The Admirable Crichton made a profit of £197 2s 11d (£197.15) in total. Hood and Sullivan did collaborate on another opera (The Emerald Isle) but Sullivan died before its completion. 

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Ladies

L-R: May McLachlan (Scent-of-Lillies), Kathleen Long (Honey-of-Life), Eva Thorne (Sultana), Connie Cross (Heart's Desire)

Photo of Men

A S M Broomfield (The Royal Executioner), Tom Manning (The Physician-in-Chief), Jack Riddington (The Grand Vizier)