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Cover to highlights of Tom JonesTOM JONES

A comic opera in 3 actsMusic by Edward German; Lyrics by Chas. H. Taylor. Libretto by Alex. M. Thompson and Robert Courtneidge, based on the novel by Henry Fielding

Apollo Theatre, London - 17 April, 1907
Astor Theatre, Broadway - 11 November, 1907 (55 perfs)


(Early 18th century England)

While Tom Jones, an orphan of unknown birth, is convalescing at the home of Squire Western, he falls in love with Sophia. The Squire, however, insists that his daughter must marry the odious Blifil, the rich nephew of Mr Allworthy, in whose family Tom has been brought up. Sophia detests Blifil and is in tears. When Blifil discovers Tom comforting her, he insults Tom, who knocks him down. Tom and Sophia run away, separately. Sophia and her maid, Honour, are pursued by Squire Western and Blifil By chance, they all put up at the same inn at which Tom Jones is spending the night, unaware they are under the same roof. Sophia's worldly friend, Lady Bellaston, is also staying at the inn; after being attacked by a highwayman she has been rescued by Tom. She is greatly attracted to Tom and lets the inn servants think that he is her husband.

When the village barber, Benjamin Partridge, is called to the inn to alleviate Squire Western's gout, he hears the name 'Tom Jones'. Apparently, he knows the true story of Tom's birth. Before he can reveal all, however, Western bursts in upon Tom and Lady Bellaston. Sophia jumping to the conclusion that Tom is fickle, wants nothing more to do with him and leaves for London. Tom accepts Lady Bellaston's offer of a lift to London in her coach. The Squire also rushes off to London to consent to the marriage between Sophia and Tom; by now, he has heard that Tom is not a penniless orphan but Blifil's elder brother. Sophia has great social success in London under Lady Bellaston's patronage. One day, Tom catches sight of her and summons up courage to explain everything to Sophia's satisfaction and the young lovers are reunited.



In the garden of Squire Western's house in Somersetshire the local gentry are gathered for the hunt, and gossip is galloping as fast as the horses. One of the favourite subjects of the lady gossipers is lusty young Tom Jones, the adopted son of Mr Allworthy, who isn't present for the occasion, and another is the squire's daughter, Sophia who, oddly enough, isn't present either. The Squire himself, a jolly back­slapping fellow, regales the company with an oft-told story and sends his servant Gregory to find everybody's favourite lad as the neighbouring Squire Allworthy and his nephew Blifil arrive to sign the papers betrothing Sophia to the unprepos­sessing younger Allworthy.

Torn enters apace, chased from a coppice where little Rosie Lucas swears she heard the rustle of a skirt> and the sounds of kissing, and he is soon giving a bright baritone song about a 'West Country Lad'. Western leads the Allworthys inside to get quickly done with the day's business and Honour, Sophia's maid is sent to find her mistress. Sophia (for it was, of course, she in the coppice with Tom) comes out as soon as the coast is clear and gets lost in a little day dream until Honour brings Tom to her and the two declare their love all over again. They will, however, as wisdom dictates, `Festina Lente' under the disapproving eyes of their elders.

Lost happily in their wooing, the lovers dally almost too long and the squire's middle-aged sister, making a sudden incursion on the scene, dis­covers Tom with the helpful Honour who is opportunely covering her mis­tress's hurried retreat. With maidenly promptness, Miss Western jumps avidly to the wrong conclusion, a conclusion which doesn't please the comical yokel Gregory to whom Honour is promised. That little situation is quickly sorted out, for Honour wears the trousers in their relationship, and they join in a lively ensemble singing of their future married life as host and hostess of a little roadside inn.

As it happens, the misunderstanding comes to the lovers' aid, for Sophia has dropped her muff in the kissing coppice and it has been found by the beastly Blifil. Honour blithely claims it as her own, a gift from her mistress, and Miss Western backs up the story with her circumstantial evidence. Since Squire Western thinks everyone's daughters (his own, of course, excepted) are fair game for a lusty lad, this means there is no harm done. Not yet, indeed, but the business of the day has still to be completed.

After a jolly madrigal the Squire orders Sophia and Blifil to be left alone together so that Blifil may put his marriage proposal to her. To young Allworthy's horror, what should be a formality turns to an embarrassment when Sophia refuses the offer indignantly. Western angrily tells his daughter that a decision such as this is his privilege; she shall have no say in the matter of whom she shall marry, and Tom finds his lady love in tears as they open the finale with a protestation of undying love. When Blifil breaks in on them, Tom knocks him down and, as everyone gathers round, Tom and Sophia plead for their love. Father and guardian, outraged, will hear none of such a match and cast the young people off as the finale ends in a sad farewell.


Toni has run off, broken-hearted, to take the king's shilling as a soldier and Sophia, following behind with Honour, has fled from her home in search of ',while Squire Western and all his entourage have, in their turn, set off on the road in search of Sophia. So, this particular week, the roads between Somerset and London are fairly full of Somerset folk who, driven by the need to condense a lot of Fielding's novel into one act, all end up on the same evening in the same inn at Upton.

As soon as the opening chorus is out of the way we find that Squire Western is already installed at the inn, laid up in his room with a fiery fit of gout. The hostess proposes a doctor for what ails him, for such a gentleman just happens to be on hand, one Benjamin Partridge who des­cribes himself in comic song as 'A Person of Parts'. Partridge is a Somerset man himself and knows Western and Tom from twenty years back, but he is less than adept as a doctor and succeeds in rousing Western to howling pitch by dropping his leeches everywhere and treading on the Squire's gouty toe.

Today is a busy day for the itinerant doctor. He soon has a second (and perhaps more suitable) call to tend to a lady's horse and the lady is none other than Sophia whose equine accident has obliged her to stop at Upton. Honour catches the Somerset references in the doctor's conversation and she is wary, but Sophia thinks of nothing but her anxiety to be on her way. She is heading for London and the house of her relative, Lady Bellaston, where she may, hopefully, escape the hated Blifil for, rather than wed him, she would marry the first man who came along like 'Dream o' Day Jill'.

Gregory, who has, come on the journey as part of the Squire's train, fills in his time with a song before the stage is filled with consternation: a coach has been attacked by highwaymen and Lady Bellaston, who was a passenger, has been saved from the scoundrels by a dashing young man who succeeded in putting the highwaymen to flight. Sure enough, it, is Tom Jones who enters bearing the delightedly fainting Lady in his arms. My Lady Bellaston has but one thought in mind and that is to bed the handsome youth as quickly and efficiently as possible, but thoughts of Sophia linger faithfully in Tom's heart and only the course of events contrives that he ends up innocently in an inn room alone with Lady Bellaston.

All these people, under the same roof, manage not to bump into each other, but Partridge meets them all in turn and he gradually if inefficiently starts to put the situation together in his mind as the main protagonists of the action are stage-managed in and out of rooms and doors. Honour sees that the barber needs to be kept quiet if her mistress is to get safely away but she is quietly confident that, in a pinch, she can deal with any man who looks at her in the way this one does.

Honour goes nimbly to work. With a little forceful explanation, she gets it through Gregory's thick head that a quick and sure escape is needed for Sophia, and she promises him her hand and heart as a reward for his help. Tom, who has bolstered himself against the charms of Lady Bellaston with a glass or two of wine, is still determined to forget his sorrow as a soldier, but the wine catches him unawares and he exchanges some loosely amorous words with a cloaked lady before being summoned back to the side of Lady Bellaston: Alas, the dark lady is Sophia and she is broken-hearted as she believes the rampant Tom is lost to her forever.

Unfortunately, in the heat of the action, Honour runs into Blifil and the events of act begin to wind to a climax. The meddling barber points Blifil to the room where Tom and his lady are to be found and Western, thinking to find the lad indecently closeted with Sophia, bursts in on Lady Bellaston in a fine imbroglio. As a finale of accusations and assertions rages, Tom's glance alights on Sophia's muff, left once more behind. With withering horror he realises the identity of the cloaked lady to whom he spoke so carelessly and understands what he has done. At once he prepares to go after his beloved and Lady Bellaston, determined not to let him go from her sight, offers her coach to take him to London.


Between the acts, Sophia has reached London, carried thence in Squire Western's coach driven by the useful Gregory, and in next to no time she has been hailed in society as a fashionable beauty. Back in Somerset even more momentous things have been happening. Mr Allworthy has discovered from the barber Partridge that Tom Jones is actually his own sister's illegitimate son and therefore Blifil's elder brother. He has communicated his shattering news to Western who is now in London looking for Sophia, albeit with little success, since he has been< doing his looking mainly in the bottoms of glasses in ale houses.

As the act opens he is scouring much more likely territory at Ranelagh Gardens. Gregory and Honour have chosen the same pleasure spot to spend their dalliance and, to the yokel's chagrin, his bright little lady is the subject of a certain amount of attention from the gallants of the town whom she answers with a cautionary tale of country one-up-womanship.

Tom himself is next on the scene with a song as the principals of the story gather in the one venue but continue to manage to keep missing each other amongst the festivities of the gardens. Honour and Partridge meet up long enough for him to give her the idea that Tom is to wed Lady Bellaston, before Sophia appears on the scene with a circle of admirers and the famous waltz song.

When Tom, Sophia, Lady Bellaston, Honour and Partridge all finally come together in one place, the complications start to get a little unravelled, but the malice of Lady Bellaston seems likely to part the lovers in misunderstanding. Partridge has an attempt at getting a little misunder­standing going between Honour and Gregory, to his own advantage, but the only result is a trio.

Honour now knows from Gregory that the Squire is of a new mind regarding a match between Tom and Sophia, but Sophia still thinks she has been betrayed and she will not allow herself to hope until she overhears Lady Bellaston attempting unsuccessfully to bribe Tom back to her bed. Tom's protestations prove him, in spite of everything, to be true to his Sophia and all can happily end with a finale full of wedding bells.  


Scenes & Settings

Act 1 - The Lawn at Squire Western's
Act 2 - The Inn at Upton
Act 3 - Raleigh Gardens

Musical Numbers

  1. Don't You Find the Weather Charming? - Chorus
  2. On A January Morning - Squire Western, Chorus
  3. West Country Lad - Tom, Chorus
  4. Today My Spinet - Sophia
  5. Wisdom Says "Festina Lente" - Sophia, Honour and Tom
  6. The Barley Mow - Ensemble (Honour & Gregory, with Betty, Peggy, Dobbin and Grizzle)
  7. Here's A Paradox For Lovers - Madrigal - Sophia, Honour, Tom, Allworthy
  8. Benjamin Partridge, a person of parts - Partridge
  9. Dream 0' Day Jill - Sophia
  10. By Night and Day - Sophia
  11. Gurt Uncle Jan Tappit - Gregory
  12. As All the Maids and I - Honour
  13. The Beggarman - Concerted Number - Honour, Hostess, Gregory & Partridge and Chorus
  14. Laughing Trio - You Have a Pretty Wit - Honour, Partridge and Gregory
  15. A Soldier's Scarlet Coat - Tom, Chorus
  16. Love Maketh The Heart a Garden Fair - Sophia
  17. All For A Green Ribbon - Honour and Male Chorus
  18. If Love's Content - Tom
  19. Beguile, Beguile With Music Sweet - Sophia
  20. Waltz Song: 'For Tonight, For Tonight' (Sophia)
  21. Trio - Says A Well Worn Saw - Honour, Partridge and Gregory


(Total number of books = 16)

2 Violins I, 1 Violin II, 1 Viola, 1 Cello, 1 Double Bass, 1 Oboe, 1 Clarinet, 1 Bassoon, 1 Horns I/II, 1 Cornets I/II, 1 Drums, 1 Harp, 1 Conductor Score - annotated vocal score