Trial by Jury, Gilbert & Sullivan

Title Trial by Jury
English Title
Composer Arthur Sullivan
Librettists William Gilbert
Language English, Dutch translation available
Genre Dramatic cantata; one act
First performance 25 March, 1875, Royalty Theatre, London
Time of action About 1875
Place of action A London Court of Justice
Main parts
  • The Learned Judge, baritone
  • The Plaintiff (Angelina), soprano
  • The Defendant (Edwin), tenor I
  • Counsel for the Plaintiff, tenor II
  • Usher, bass-baritone
Prominence of chorus Large
Orchestra 1 flute, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, timp./perc., strings
Special demands
Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Not difficult
Length One act of about 45 minutes

This 'dramatic cantata' is the first fruit of the long co-operation between Gilbert & Sullivan. It is also their only operetta without spoken dialogue. Musically there is much to be enjoyed: the many choruses, the 'dilemma' ensemble, the judge’s song, the counsel’s indictment etc., it is all Sullivan at his best


A certain Edwin is summoned to justice for break of promise. He gets very little sympathy: the jury, the public, the usher, the judge, all are prejudiced in favour of Angelina, the cheated bride. She and her counsel make good use of the prevailing mood, but Edwin fights back. The result is confusion, culminating in a grand operatic ensemble in the Italian belcanto manner ("A nice dilemma we have here."). Then the judge makes a surprising decision, to everybody’s satisfaction.

Costumes Chorus: ladies and gentlemen, plus a group of bridesmaids, ideally numbering twelve, as in the end they are to marry the twelve jurors.
Note The work makes a good combination with another one-act light opera (as a 'double bill') or with a concert before the interval.
Link Wikipedia

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Tags: Gilbert | Sullivan | Fransen