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Henry Lyton as Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd
Written by W. S. Gilbert (words)
Arthur Sullivan (music)
Characters Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd
Richard Dauntless
Sir Despard Murgatroyd
Rose Maybud
Mad Margaret
Dame Hannah
Date of premiere 22 January 1887
Place of premiere Savoy Theatre
London, England
Original language English
Genre Operetta
Setting Fishing village in Cornwall, England

Ruddigore; or, The Witch's Curse is a two-act operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan. It was premiered by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company on 22 January 1887 at the Savoy Theatre in London, England. It ran for 288 performances over 8 months. It is the tenth of the fourteen operettas written by Gilbert and Sullivan.


  • Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (comic baritone), disguised as a young farmer named Robin Oakapple
  • Richard Dauntless (tenor), his foster-brother and a man-o'-war's-man
  • Sir Despard Murgatroyd (bass-baritone or baritone), a wicked baronet
  • Old Adam Goodheart (bass), Robin's faithful servant
  • Rose Maybud (soprano), a village maiden
  • Mad Margaret (mezzo-soprano)
  • Dame Hannah (contralto), Rose's aunt
  • Zorah (soprano), a professional bridesmaid
  • Ruth (speaking/chorus), a professional bridesmaid
  • Sir Roderic Murgatroyd (bass-baritone), a ghost


The baronets of Ruddigore are compelled to commit a crime every day under a witch's curse. Robin Oakapple is a baronet of Ruddigore who has fled the curse. He and his love, Rose Maybud, are about to marry when Robin's identity is exposed.

In Ruddigore Castle, Robin cannot commit himself to a life of crime. The portraits of his ancestors come to life to punish him. He outwits them and frees himself from the curse for all time. He is reunited with Rose.

Musical numbers

  • Overture
Act I
  • 1. "Fair is Rose" (Chorus of Bridesmaids)
  • 2. "Sir Rupert Murgatroyd" (Hannah and Chorus)
  • 3. "If somebody there chanced to be" (Rose)
  • 4. "I know a youth" (Rose and Robin)
  • 5. "From the briny sea" (Chorus of Bridesmaids)
  • 6. "I shipp'd, d'ye see, in a revenue sloop" (Richard and Chorus)
  • 6a. Hornpipe
1881 Savoy Theatre
Savoy Theatre, 1881
  • 7. "My boy, you may take it from me" (Robin and Richard)
  • 8. "The battle's roar is over" (Rose and Richard)
  • 9. "If well his suit has sped" (Chorus of Bridesmaids)
  • 10. "In sailing o'er life's ocean wide" (Rose, Richard, and Robin)
  • 11. "Cheerily carols the lark" (Margaret)
  • 12. "Welcome, gentry" (Double Chorus)
  • 13. "Oh, why am I moody and sad?" (Sir Despard and Chorus)
  • 14. "You understand? I think I do" (Richard and Sir Despard)
  • 15. Finale Act I
    • "Hail the bride of seventeen summers" (Ensemble)
    • Madrigal, "When the buds are blossoming" (Ensemble)
    • "When I'm a bad Bart, I will tell taradiddles!" (Robin and Chorus)
    • "Oh, happy the lily" (Ensemble)
Act II
  • 16. "I once was as meek" (Sir Ruthven and Adam)
  • 17. "Happily coupled are we" (Rose and Richard)
  • 18. "In bygone days" (Rose with Chorus of Bridesmaids)
  • 19. "Painted emblems of a race" (Sir Ruthven, Sir Roderic, and Chorus of Ancestors)
  • 20. "When the night wind howls" (Sir Roderic and Chorus)
  • 21. "He yields, he yields" (Chorus)
  • 21a. (original) "Away, remorse!" ... "For thirty-five years I've been sober and wary" (Robin)
  • 21a. (replaced) "Away, remorse!" ... "Henceforth all the crimes" (Robin) (The original song was replaced about a week into the original run.
  • 22. "I once was a very abandoned person" (Margaret and Despard)
  • 23. "My eyes are fully open" (Margaret, Sir Ruthven, and Despard)
  • 24. "Melodrame"
  • 25. "There grew a little flower" (Hannah with Sir Roderic)
  • 26. Finale Act II (Ensemble)
    • "When a man has been a naughty baronet"
    • "For happy the lily" (reprise) (Ensemble)
  • Brahms, Caryl. 1975. Gilbert and Sullivan: lost chords and discords. Little, Brown. pp. 159-170.

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