Synopsis / The Yeomen of the Guard
In the early sixteenth century, Colonel Fairfax, framed on a charge of sorcery, is imprisoned in the Tower of London, set to be executed; his friend, Sergeant Meryll and Meryll's amorous daughter Phœbe hatch a plot to loose Fairfax and let him assume the place of Meryll's son, due to join the Yeomen of the Guard. Meanwhile, the strolling players Jack Point and Elsie Maynard take service with the Lieutenant of the Tower; the Lieutenant, who has been asked by Fairfax to find him a woman to marry (in order to keep his property from going to the cousin who framed him), convinces Elsie (and Point, who loves her) to let a blindfolded Elsie be Fairfax's bride, since the groom will be executed immediately thereafter.) The marriage accomplished, Meryll springs his plot; Elsie and Point are horrified to find that her husband is still alive. When Fairfax learns that it is the winsome Elsie whom he has married, he resolves to woo her in the character of Leonard Meryll, and succeeds in gaining her affections, though she refuses to marry him until assured that she is free of Fairfax. Meanwhile, Point and the oafish gaoler Wilfred Shadbolt plot to declare that Shadbolt has shot the escaped Fairfax, but that the body unfortunately sank in the river. Elsie, to the grief and shock of Point and Phœbe, agrees to marry Leonard/Fairfax; but is shocked in her turn when she learns that Fairfax has been pardoned and come to claim her; her tears turn to joy when she learns that Fairfax is Leonard — but the opera ends on a melancholy note, as Point, seeing that Elsie is lost to him forever, "falls insensible" at her feet.