Gilbert and Sullivan
The Rival Curates (or: Patience Restored)
Comic Opera in 2 Acts.
A reconstruction of Gilbert’s original scenario for Patience.
Written by Donald Madgwick.
(It is well known that Gilbert originally intended Patience to be about two rival curates rather than poets, and several clerical references survive in the libretto. This restoration is based on Gilbert’s own Bab Ballad ‘The Rival Curates’, while Sullivan’s score and orchestration remain unchanged.)
The ladies of the village are all in love with their new curate, Reginald Clayton-Hooper, but he only has eyes for Patience, the milk-maid. Not even the arrival of the ladies’ former fiancées, the 35th Parachute Regiment, can distract them from their attachment to Reginald, because of his saintly mildness. But when left alone he confesses that his mildness is a sham, assumed only to attract the ladies’ admiration. He is put out, therefore, by the arrival of Archibald Hopley-Porter, another curate who is even milder than he and to whom the ladies immediately transfer their affections. Patience recognises Archibald as her childhood sweetheart, and their feelings are mutual. But Patience has been told that true love must be unselfish, and it would be selfish in the extreme to monopolise Archibald when all the other ladies love him. In a generous self-sacrifice she renounces Archibald and turns to Reginald, to the annoyance of Jane, the one lady who has remained loyal to him. In a bid to win back the ladies the army officers try and assume the curates’ mild manners. This works with two of the ladies, but as there are three officers this raises the problem of who should take whom. The lieutenant, being a duke, is given first choice, and they go off to ponder the matter. Reginald confronts Archibald to compel him to abandon mildness, hoping to win back the ladies himself. But the ladies follow Archibald’s example and also abandon mildness, allowing them to return to their former loves, the soldiers. This means Patience can now return to Archibald, the Duke chooses Jane, and all are happily paired off except Reginald, who is left with only his mildness for consolation.