The Rivals

From Wednesday 25 June to Saturday 28 June 2014 at venues in and around Stratford-upon-Avon Consensus Opera performed Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedy masterpiece The Rivals in a new adaptation that included music from some of Mozart’s best-loved operas.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals is one of the most popular of all 18th Century English plays.  Roundly vilified at its first performance in 1775, Sheridan heavily reworked the script, added a prologue to apologise to the audience, changed one of the cast and the result was a triumph that has been endlessly revived ever since and remains a permanent fixture in the British theatre.

The play takes place in Bath where wealthy heiress, Lydia Languish, is holidaying under the suffocating control of her aunt, the redoubtable Mrs Malaprop, and is finding her escape by burying herself in romantic novels.  Mrs Malaprop does her best to find her a suitable husband but Lydia has fallen in love instead with the highly unsuitable junior officer, Beverley.  Mrs Malaprop entirely disapproves of Beverley without ever actually meeting him, but this makes Lydia even more determined to elope with him.  However, unknown to Lydia, her romantically penniless hero is none other than Captain Jack Absolute, who stands to inherit a substantial fortune of his own but has dared not reveal this to Lydia for fear of rejection.  While pondering this dilemma Jack is suddenly informed by father, Sir Anthony Absolute, that he has chosen a wife for him and that Jack must marry her or be disinherited completely.  Jack’s despair turns to joy when he discovers his unknown intended is Lydia, but then chaos follows as his double identity starts to unravel.

Meanwhile, Lydia’s diffident cousin Julia is getting increasingly frustrated with her insufferable fiancé and tortured poet, Faulkland, while Lydia’s fortune has attracted the attention of rivals who stand in Jack’s way.  Of course more confused identities, misdirected love letters and duels follow before all are happily reconciled in the end.

The Rivals

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The Rivals

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High quality opera and drama in Stratford upon Avon.