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Romantic opera in 3 acts, 9 scenes: based on the novel by Sir Walter Scott: Music - Sir Arthur Sullivan; libretto - Julian Sturgis.

Royal English Opera House - 31 January, 1891 (155 perfs),


Act I

As Cedric's men prepare supper, he laments the King's many journeys abroad, the scurrilous behaviour of the Norman knights, and the absence of his estranged son, Ivanhoe. Isaac of York, a Jew, enters and asks for shelter. Although Cedric considers Isaac's race accursed, he will not refuse Saxon hospitality. A squire announces Sir Brian de Bois Guilbert, of the Knights Templar, and Maurice de Bracy, a knight and advisor to Prince John, who are on their way to a Royal tournament at Ashby-de-la-Zouche. They are Normans, and Cedric, a Saxon, loathes them. However, they too are granted hospitality. Ivanhoe is with them, in disguise. De Bracy asks after Cedric's fair ward, Rowena. Cedric replies that his ward will only marry a Saxon. Ivanhoe tells of a tournament he witnessed in the Holy Land where the English knights soundly defeated the Templars. Sir Brian was beaten by Ivanhoe, whom he wishes to challenge again. Rowena and the disguised Ivanhoe, whom no one recognises, assure Sir Brian that Ivanhoe will meet his challenge. After Rowena exits, Sir Brian and de Bracy agree that they will abduct her after the tournament at Ashby.

Rowena laments the absence of her lover, Ivanhoe. He enters, still disguised as a holy palmer. She tells him that she hopes to be with Ivanhoe again. Ivanhoe tells Isaac that he has overheard Sir Brian planning to seize him the next day. Isaac promises to equip Ivanhoe (whom he recognises as a knight) with a horse and armour, and Ivanhoe in turn promises that, if they fly Cedric's hall directly, Isaac will be safe with him. They leave for the tournament at Ashby.

At the tournament, King Richard, disguised as the Black Knight, has made a great impression with his victories. Prince John enters with Rowena, who has been named Queen of Beauty for the tournament. The Prince shrugs off a message that his brother, the King, has escaped from France. The Prince asks for challengers to the Norman knights. Ivanhoe, now in disguise as the Disinherited Knight, challenges Sir Brian. In a fierce clash, Ivanhoe again defeats Sir Brian, but is himself wounded. Ignoring Ivanhoe's protest, a Herald removes his helmet at Prince John's command so that he may be crowned victor of the tournament, and he is recognised by Cedric and Rowena.

Act II

King Richard, who is in hiding after his escape, shares a feast with Friar Tuck and challenges him to a song contest. The King sings "I ask nor wealth nor courtier's praise", while the Friar sings "Ho, jolly Jenkin". Locksley (Robin Hood) enters with the urgent message that Cedric and Rowena have been captured by de Bracy and Sir Brian, and the wounded Ivanhoe, travelling with Isaac and his beautiful daughter Rebecca, have also been captured. All are imprisoned at Torquilstone. The King, Locksley, Friar Tuck and all the outlaws rush off to rescue them.

Cedric and Rowena are prisoners, and De Bracy plans to marry her, by force if necessary. De Bracy tells them that Ivanhoe, Isaac and Rebecca, are also prisoners. He promises that Ivanhoe will be safe if Rowena and Cedric comply with his wishes. Cedric is prepared to sacrifice Ivanhoe, but Rowena begs him to be merciful to them, as well as to Ivanhoe. She appeals to his honour, as a Knight and, begging him to save Ivanhoe, she promises to pray for de Bracy. After they have left, Sir Brian enters, and declares passionately his intention to woo, and win, Rebecca.

Ulrica warns Rebecca that she faces an evil and dark fate, and that death is the only path to safety. The despondent Rebecca prays for God's protection. Sir Brian enters, intent on winning Rebecca. He asks her to submit to him, promising to raise her to the throne of kings and to cover her with jewels. She utterly rejects him and leaps on the parapet, threatening to jump. A bugle sounds, heralding the arrival of King Richard and his forces. Sir Brian rushes off to defend the castle.


Ivanhoe, pale and weak from his wounds, thinks of his love for Rowena, and falls asleep. Rebecca, who is in love with Ivanhoe, enters to tend him. When they hear distant trumpets, Rebecca goes to a window and describes the unfolding battle to the frustrated Ivanhoe, who complains that he is unable to participate. Ulrica sets the castle on fire. Sir Brian enters and carries off Rebecca. Ivanhoe is unable to protect her. At the last minute, King Richard enters the chamber and rescues Ivanhoe from the conflagration.

King Richard and Ivanhoe rest in a forest. De Bracy has been captured. The King sends him to Prince John with an ultimatum to surrender. Cedric and Rowena appear. At the King's urging, Cedric is reconciled with Ivanhoe and agrees to Ivanhoe's marriage with Rowena. Isaac enters in haste. The Templars have accused Rebecca of witchcraft for supposedly bewitching the Christian Knight to betray his Order and his vows, and making him fall in love with an accursed Jewess. They have sentenced her to burn at the stake. Ivanhoe rushes out to rescue her.

The funeral pyre has been built. Rebecca will be burned at the stake unless a champion is willing to fight for her. Sir Brian urges them to relent, but the Templars take his irrational passion as further evidence of her witchcraft. Sir Brian offers to save her if she will agree to be his, but Rebecca refuses. Rebecca is bound to the stake. The exhausted Ivanhoe arrives with his sword drawn, offering to fight for her. Rebecca tries to dissuade him, fearing that the wounded knight cannot prevail. Sir Brian attacks Ivanhoe, who appears to be beaten. But as Sir Brian is about to strike the fatal blow, he falls dead, unable to survive the evil passions warring in his soul. The Templars regard this as proof of God's judgement and Rebecca's innocence, and she is freed. She gazes wistfully at Ivanhoe as he is reunited with Rowena, who has entered with Cedric and King Richard. The King banishes the Templars from English soil.

Musical Numbers

Act I

  1. Introduction —
  2. Cedric: 'Each day this realm of England faints and fails' —with Men
  3. Ulrica: 'Good Thane, most noble Thane, I pray...' — with Men, Cedric, Squire
  4. Cedric: 'Welcome, Sir Knights!' — with de Bracy, Brian, Isaac, Women, Men, Rowena
  5. Cedric: 'Drink, drink ye all...' — with Men, de Bracy, Brian, Rowena, Ivanhoe
  6. Men: 'The Palmer! The holy Palmer!'-. with Ivanhoe, Cedric, Brian, Rowena, de Bracy
  7. De Bracy: 'Is she not fair? And she is rich withal'  - with Brian, Men
  8. Rowena: 'O moon, art thou clad in silver mail...'
  9. Rowena: 'Good Palmer, thou didst speak of one I knew..? — with Ivanhoe
  10. Ivanhoe: 'Like mountain lark my spirit upward springs' - with Isaac
  11. Sopranos: Will there be no more fighting?' — with Chorus, Friar, King
  12. Chorus: 'Plantagenesta!'
  13. Prince John: 'Isaac, my Jew, my purse of Gold' — with Cedric, de Bracy, Rebecca
  14. Prince John: "Tis from our Royal brother, Louis of France' — with Heralds, Crowd
  15. Sopranos: 'What means his motto?' — with Crowd, Friar, Locksley, Prince John, Rowena, Cedric

Act II

  1. King: 'Strange lodging this for England's King' — with Friar
  2. King: 'There is a custom in the East' — with Friar
  3. King: 'I ask nor wealth nor courtier's praise'
  4. Friar: 'Not bad, say I, nor badly sung!' — with King
  5. Friar: 'The wind blows cold across the moor' — with Outlaws
  6. Friar: And now for combat! Where's this friend of mine?' — with King, Locksley, Chorus
  7. Cedric: 'Will not our captor dare to show his face?' — with de Bracy, Rowena
  8. De Bracy: 'Welcome, Sir Templar! But I may not stay' — with Brian
  9. Brian: 'Her southern splendour, like the Syrian Moon'
  10. Ulrica: 'Whet the keen axes' — with Rebecca
  11. Rebecca: 'O awful depth below the castle wall!'
  12. Rebecca: 'Lord of our chosen race'
  13. Rebecca: 'Take thou these jewels; here is wealth enow...' — with Brian
  14. Rebecca: 'What sound is that?' — with Brian


  1. Ivanhoe: `Happy with winged feet
  2. Ulrica: 'Tend thou the Knight thou lovest' — with Rebecca
  3. Rebecca: would that thou and I might lead our sheep...' — with Ivanhoe
  4. Ivanhoe: `But hark! what sound is in mine ear?' — with Rebecca
  5. Rebecca: `I see them now; the dark wood moves with bows' — with Tenors, Basses, Ivanhoe
  6. Ivanhoe: 'How canst thou know what pain it is to lie...' with Rebecca, Soldiers, Brian, Outlaws, Ulrica, All
  7. Outlaws: `Light foot upon the dancing green' — with King, Ivanhoe
  8. King: `Maurice de Bracy, faithless knight' — with de Bracy
  9. King: `Look, where thy moody father walks apart' — with Ivanhoe, Cedric, Rowena
  10. Ivanhoe: `How oft beneath the far-off Syrian Skies...' — with Rowena
  11. Isaac: 'Knight, Knight of Ivanhoe, I come for thee!' — with Ivanhoe, Rowena
  12. Templars: Fremuere principes'
  13. Grand Master: `Thou Jewish girl, who art condemned to — with Rebecca
  14. Brian: `It shall not be' — with Grand Master, Rebecca
  15. Voices: `A champion! A champion! A champion!' — with Ivanhoe, Chorus, Rebecca, Brian
  16. Chorus: 'A judgment! A judgment!' — with King, Grand Master, Templars
  17. King: `See where the banner of England floats afar.:  — with Templars, Rebecca, Rowena, Ivanhoe, Cedric, All


Scenes and Settings

Act 1

Act 2

Act 3