Princess Ida Trivia No. 1.
Princess Ida, uniquely among the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, is a re-write of a play which Gilbert had written fourteen years earlier: this was called The Princess, and was a parody (Gilbert called it a “respectful perversion”) of Tennyson’s poem of the same name. The blank-verse dialogue of the play was retained for the opera; and its unusual three-act structure (short first and third acts framing a long second one) is explained by the fact that the second, third and fourth of the play’s original five acts were combined as the second act of the opera.
Princess Ida Trivia No. 2.
Princess Ida during its initial run did not meet with the enthusiastic approval which the earlier operas had won from both critics and public, and its run was disappointingly short. Though the libretto rather than the score had attracted the adverse criticism, the opera’s relative failure prompted Sullivan to declare his intention of withdrawing from the Savoy partnership and writing no more light operas. He was eventually persuaded to change his mind; and the next opera, The Mikado, was Gilbert and Sullivan’s greatest success.
Princess Ida Trivia No. 3.
King Gama in Princess Ida sings “Everybody says I’m such a disagreeable man”, and in the three verses of one of Gilbert’s cleverest patter songs enlarges on his disagreeable ways. Gilbert remarked of the song “I meant it for myself. I thought it my duty to live up to my own reputation.”