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The Mandarin

A Celestial Comic Opera

Book and Lyrics by Fred Edmonds : Music by C.T. West

First performed Dome Entertainment Brighton Christmas 1892



SOMEWHERE in China arrangements have been made for a trial in the open air. Chinese jurymen, attendants, and Chang and Chung, respectively counsel for prosecution and defence, appear in turn. Finally, the Mandarin judge enters and is heartily hailed. There are spectators present, mostly ladies. The Mandarin introduces himself in song, and calls for the prisoner to be produced. Here, the Usher interrupts by saying that the judge's admirable daughter is approaching. Grand entrance of Yung-Shi with her attendant friends, So-Fah and Doh-ray-me. Yung-Shi sings that she attends Criminal Courts, and reverses her papa's decrees out of pure kindness of heart. Her father declares that he is supreme, and again calls for the prisoner.

Chinese soldiers bring on Lieutenant John Smith in a wooden cage. He is charged with being a foreigner, which his Counsel denies. The ladies show strong interest in him and he is let out. After an absurd trial, he is sentenced to be beheaded. Yung-Shi protests, and is backed up by all the ladies, so her father commutes the sentence to three years in the cangue without food or drink. Smith is left alone in the cangue, and a solo is followed by the entrance of Yung-Shi with a cup of tea for the foreigner. She explains that she is in love with him because he is a distinct novelty, and says that she will risk being cut in pieces to set him at liberty. While she is absent in search of the required key, So-Fah enters with a tin of biscuits. She also is in love, and would set the barbarian free, but receives a slap from the returning Yung-Shi for talking to her 'future husband.' A quarrelling duet ensues.

The ladies are pacified by Smith, whom they release. The three sing of the loveliness of Peace. Doh-ray-me and the maidens enter and startle Yung-Shi and So-Fah, who cling to Smith. The newcomers wish to comfort the prisoner, but consider themselves too late in the field, and inquire to which one he is engaged. On hearing that Yung-Shi is the favoured individual, congratulations follow. Meanwhile, the Mandarin, jury, etc., have entered from the rear, and look on in astonishment. The Mandarin strides forward and sings ferociously of the tortures he will apply. Tableau of horror-stricken girls, etc.


Discloses Yung-Shi sitting alone. She is wretched sad sings of her misery, because her father will conscientiously torture herself and Smith. Chang and Chung enter and offer their services. They are both in love with her themselves, and see no harm in having the foreigner executed. Yung-Shi rushes off, saying that they must save him or she will never speak to them again. Finding they each intend to marry her, they quarrel, and box absurdly. The reporter appears, and takes a snapshot for his paper. It turns out that he, also, loves Yung-Shi, trusting to the power of the Press for success in his suit. At last, all agree to ask her for her heart and hand simultaneously, with the same words and the same gestures, so as to be entirely fair. She returns, and they kneel to carry out their plan.

Enter the Mandarin, who inquires what they are doing. When they plead that it is "a little game", he orders them off, and tells his daughter he has found a legal way of saving her from torture. He will even spare the life of the foreigner, as, according to an ancient code, any penalty may be commuted for one of marriage to a certified shrew, and accomplices may be pardoned. So-Fah has procured a medical certificate as a shrew, and volunteered to marry Smith. Yung-Shi demonstrates that she is a far greater shrew herself, shrieks, and rushes off.

A bridal procession enters with Smith and So-Fah, who is thickly veiled. When So-Fah unveils, Smith declares her to be the 'wrong one.' Yung-Shi rushes in and says she is the only right one. To complete the Mandarin's perplexity, Chang, Chung, and Sing-Song enter and sing of their blighted affections. The lawyers have found out that Yung-Shi has subjected herself to a similar penalty to the foreigner, and each claims to be the biggest blackguard in the Celestial Empire so as to win her.

The bewildered Mandarin is giving his decisions when a noise is heard. British troops are advancing. Chinese soldiers enter and build a rampart of tea-chests. A battle ends in the rout of the Chinese, the rescue of Smith who explains his position, and the capture of the Mandarin who is brought on in the cage.

Matters are now reversed, and Captain Bluff sentences him to two years as an advertisement in a London tea shop. The Mandarin collapses, but Bluff tells him that all shall be forgiven if he grants his daughter in marriage to Smith. He consents, and the rest of the opera is a joyful celebration of peace restored.

Musical Numbers

  1. Chorus - Slow & Stately
  2. Recit. & Chorus - Behold, Behold Your Mandarin
  3. Recit (Mandarin) - & Chorus - Such As You See Me
  4. Song (Mandarin) & Chorus - In Peking I Was Born
  5. Recit. (Usher) - Excuse Me, M'lud
  6. Nodding Chorus - Wang A Lang Chang
  7. Solo (Mandarin) & Chorus - What Is the Verdict?
  8. Recit. (Mandarin) & Chorus - You Have Received .
  9. Valse Song (Yung-Shi) & Chorus - O Bliss & Happiness
  10. Solo (Smith) & Chorus - Now This Is A Predicament
  11. Song (Smith) - I Have Been In Unpleasant Positions Before
  12. Duet (Yung-Shi & Smith) - Goodbye, My Own
  13. Duet (Yung-Shi & So-Fah) - Your Future Husband
  14. Solo (Smith) - Dear! Dear! Dear!
  15. Trio (Yung-Shi, So-Fah, & Smith) - Yes, Peace Is Passing Lovely
  16. Recit (Smith) - This Lowly But Becoming Attitude
  17. Solo (Doh-Ray-Me) & Chorus - Now This Is Strange .
  18. Valse Song & Chorus - Bright Is The Dawning
  19. Solo (Mandarin) & Chorus - Why This Conduct? .
  20. Solo (Yung-Shi) - The Sky Is Black Above .
  21. Duet (Chang & Chung) - You, Sir, Are An Impertinent Monkey
  22. Quartet (Yung-Shi, Sing-Song, Chang, Chung) - Lady, Hear Our Humble Vow
  23. Bridal Chorus - Rum-A-Tum-Tum
  24. Trio (Sing-Song, Chang & Chung) - M'lud, May It Please Your Lordship
  25. Song (Sing-Song) - The Demented Cow
  26. Double Chorus - Steady Boys
  27. Song (Col Coldsteel) & Chorus - When The Sky Is All Serene
  28. Solo (Yung-Shi) & Chorus of Ladies - My Poor Papa
  29. Sing-Song - A China Love Song
  30. Finale - All Is Fair


YUNG-SHI (The Mandarin's Daughter).
SO-FAH - (Chinese young lady)
DO-RAY-ME (Chinese young lady)
CHANG (Public Prosecutor)
CHUNG (Counsel for defence)
SING-SONG (Chinese Reporter)
CAPTAIN BLUFF (of the Royal Navy)
Choruses of Chinese Ladies, Soldiers, Jurymen, Attendants, Lantern and Standard Bearers, etc., also of British Soldiers and Sailors.