Carnival of the Animals (12) Camille Saint-Saens
An unusually dark and brooding work from the masters of Victorian operetta.
The Yeomen of the Guard was the 11th of 14 collaborations between composer Arthur Sullivan and librettist W.S. Gilbert. It premiered at the Savoy Theatre on 3 October 1888, and ran for 423 performances.
Set in the Tower of London during the 16th Century, the opera is one of the darkest stories that the pair ever produced, ending with a broken-hearted main character and two very reluctant engagements, rather than the usual numerous marriages.
The libretto does contain bursts of the duo's trademark humour, however, including a lot of pun-laden one-liners.
Critics considered the score to be Sullivan's finest, including its innovative overture. And it was the first Savoy Opera to use a larger orchestra - one which Sullivan continued to deploy from then on.