Benford's G&S Lexicon Entries for The Grand Duke

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Enter part of a term; e.g., "gill" for Gillow's.

Act II

Rook the pigeon and the gull

Delude the suckers. Walters (301), an ornithologist of note, calls attention to the three birds involved in the expression.

Allons, encore, (etc.) [(French stanzas in the roulette song)]

Translated into English:

Let’s go again,
Boys and girls ––
Your gold Louis,
Your cartwheels
Ola! Ola!

Place your bets,
Come on, class,
Time passes,
Break the bank ––
The play is stopped!
Black seventeen is odd and manque!
Ola! Ola!

Long live the bank!
Let’s go again,
Boys and girls ––
Your gold Louis,
Your cartwheels,
Ola! Ola!

Make your plays,
Come on, everyone,
It’s spinning, it’s spinning,
Time flies ––
The play is stopped!
Red thirty-five is odd and passe!
All right, students of the class ––
Let’s go again,
Boys and girls ––
Your gold Louis,
Your cartwheels,
Ola! Ola!

Make your plays,
Who lost before
Wins today- -
The play is stopped!
Tra, la, la! The double zero!
You lose all, my noble heroes

Notes:

1. The term “manque” refers to the numbers below 19; “passe” refers to 19 and above (103).

2. The “Louis” referred to is presumably the gold coin issued in France during the reign of Louis XIII and subsequently to the time of Louis XVI.

3. A “cartwheel” is a more or less generic term for a large coin. It was commonly applied to the British crown, a coin worth five shillings, or a quarter of a pound sterling.

4. The translation is by Betty Benford, who cautions that she has not attempted to keep the meter –– so please don’t try to sing her version.

5. Since almost every living person speaks French better than I, I shall not try to tell you how to pronounce the original words in the song.

Merovingian [of the early Merovingian period]

Pronunciation: mer-eh-VIN-jee-en

“Of or pertaining to the Frankish dynasty established by Clovis, which reigned in Gaul from about a.d. 500 to 751” (250). This term and the next two are from lines (spoken by the Prince of Monte Carlo) that are omitted from some versions of the libretto.

Quarterns [Two half-quarterns and a make-weight]

“Quartern” is an obsolete term for a quarter of anything (228). In the context, the prince seems to be alluding to coins but is in reality speaking of the baroness, Julia, and Lisa as though they were two big loaves of bread and a bun thrown in for good measure (147, 251, 273). Rees (251) and Stedman (273) note that one can still buy quartern loaves (four-pounders!) in England.

Make-weight

“A person or thing of insignificant value thrown in to make up a deficiency or gap” (228). Prestige (245) interprets the statement as insulting to Julia and the baroness for being over-size and to Lisa for being insignificant.

Cardiac affection

Heart disease.

Banns [The Law forbids the banns]

The banns are formal public notices of an intended marriage. The meaning here, of course, is that the wedding is to be called off. But don’t be discouraged; this is a G&S opera and we know very well it will have a happy ending.

Flibberty gibberty [This flibberty gibberty kind of a liberty]

Flibbertigibbet is an ancient name for a fiend, dating back at least as far as 1603. Shakespeare used it in King Lear. It has also been used as a synonym for Puck (54). The OED (229) defines flibberty gibbet as flighty, frivolous, or senseless. This is getting close to what Gilbert must have had in mind. The term, we might add, is from a song that is left out of many editions. See Allen (3).

And so we come to the final curtain of the Savoy operas. To appease your prolonged applause and shouts of "Encore!" we obligingly append the two final chapters immediately following. Enjoy!

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