Rutland Barrington as the Vicar and Mary Duggan as Nelly Bly

Gilbert and Sullivan Archive

The Vicar of Bray

An Original English Comic Opera in Two Acts.

written by Sydney Grundy.
music by Edward Solomon.

This opera was first produced at the Globe Theatre July 22, 1882. It opened again January 28, 1892, at the Savoy Theatre and ran for 143 performances.

Plot Summary

This opera is based on The History of Sandford and Merton, a series of 18th century moral tales, and "The Vicar of Bray," a song about a clever cleric who manages to survive the religious policies of five British monarchs. Winifred, daughter of the Vicar of Bray, is in love with her father's curate, the poor (but pompous) Harry Sandford. The Vicar wants her to marry wealthy Tommy Merton, son of the local widowed landowner.

In order to facilitate this marriage, the Vicar switches from Low Church to High Church, a move which so offends Harry that he agrees to take a curacy among the Casowaries.

This opera requires five choruses: a group of children attached to the schools of Bray; their lady school teachers; divinity students who are in love with the teachers; Tommy Merton's gentrified friends; and the local corps de ballet, led by the enchanting Nelly Bly.

Updated 13 June, 2006