Princess Ida
Castle Adamant
Words: W.S. Gilbert
Music: Arthur Sullivan
Written in: Authored Date:


Act 1 discloses the court of King Hildebrand, who, with his son Prince Hilarion, and the latter's friends, Cyril and Florian, are awaiting the arrival of King Gama with his daughter. Princess Ida, to whom Hilarion had been betrothed in infancy, twenty years previously.

King Gama arrives without the Princess, but with his three warrior sons, and informs King Hildebrand that Princess Ida has renounced mankind, and entered Castle Adamant with a hundred girl students who share her views.

Hilarion decides to visit Castle Adamant and claim his bride, accompanied by Cyril and Florian, while King Hildebrand consigns King Gama and his three sons to prison as hostages pending Hilarion's safe return.


Act 2 discovers the girl graduates in the gardens of Castle Adamant listening to Lady Psyche discoursing on "Man". Lady Blanche reads the day's list of punishments, and the girls then greet Princess Ida, who addresses them.

Hilarion, Cyril and Florian climb the castle wall and disguise themselves in the academic robes of some of the girl graduates. They are seen by the Princess and accepted as new lady students. Florian has to disclose their identity to Lady Psyche, who happens to be his sister, whilst Melissa (Lady Blanche's daughter) also accidently discovers their secret. Lady Blanche, too, sees through their disguises, but Melissa works upon her mother's pet ambition, which is to oust the Princess from her rule of Castle Adamant and persuades her to "wink" at the scheme.

During luncheon, Cyril indulges too freely in wine, and betrays the identity of the three comrades to the horrified Princess, who orders their immediate arrest.

King Hildebrand, with his soldiers, has, however, marched upon the castle, and the gates soon yield to their onslaught. The King orders the Princess to fulfil her betrothal contact beforethefollowng afternoon, if she wishes to save the lives of her three brothers. The curtain falls with the Princess defying King Hildebrand and his soldiers.


The lady graduates in battle array are reviewed by the Princess in the courtyard. She is disheartened, however, at their timidity and unwillingness to fight.

King Gama enters, and urges her to allow her three brothers to pit themselves against Hilarion, Cyril and Florian, her hand to depend on the issue. She resents the suggestion, but at length agrees. The three warriors shed their helmets, cuirasses and brassets, but in the fight they are wounded and overthrown.

In real Gilbertian fashion, the Princess is finally convinced of her error, and whilst Cyril takes Lady Psyche, and Florian, Melissa, Princess Ida declares her readiness to walk the world with Hilarion. "With joy abiding, together gliding".

Princess Ida, June 2003, Nuffield Theatre
Princess Ida, March 1984, The Guildhall
Princess Ida, March 1969, The Guildhall
Princess Ida, March 1958, The Guildhall
Princess Ida, April 1939, The Palace Theatre

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