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Context Theatre / TheGrandDuke

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1%%²%%²%% Note to editors: In the libretto, the term "Statutory Duel" is a formal title, not a generic description, so it is always in proper case.²%%²%%²²The last collaboration of Creator/GilbertAndSullivan, and one of the least known, ''The Grand Duke; [[EitherOrTitle or, The Statutory Duel]]'' pokes fun at [[ImpoverishedPatrician impoverished rulers]] and German words, among other things. After its initial run of only 123 performances, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company did not revive it for almost 90 years.²²The story is set in the year 1750, in pre-unification Germany. A theatre troupe is plotting to overthrow the titular Grand Duke of [[{{Ruritania}} Pfennig Halbpfennig]] [[note]]"Penny Half-penny"[[/note]], a miserly man who is in chronically poor health from years of living as cheaply as possible. ²²Among the curious and plot-relevant laws of this tiny Grand Duchy are:²#a sunset provision under which laws expire after 100 years unless renewed; and²#the Statutory Duel, a nonlethal successor to old-fashioned sword/pistol duels in which the antagonists duel with playing cards. (No, this [[Anime/YuGiOh isn't an anime]].) The loser is physically unharmed, of course, but is [[LegallyDead considered dead for all legal purposes]].²²Naturally, HilarityEnsues.²----²!!Tropes appearing in The Grand Duke include:²²* ArrangedMarriage:²** The winner of a Statutory Duel assumes not only [[KlingonPromotion the loser's position in society]], but also [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt all of the loser's obligations]]--including, as it turns out, marriage commitments.²** Grand Duke Rudolph is party to an unwanted marriage arrangement with the Princess of Monte Carlo, but that arrangement has a sunset provision he hopes to exploit.²* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: The winner of a Statutory Duel assumes the loser's obligations as well as his place in society, so it behooves a prospective duelist to know what those potential obligations are.²* EitherOrTitle: As with most of the Creator/GilbertAndSullivan operettas, the secondary title ("The Statutory Duel") is more descriptive than the primary.²* ExpositionCut: When Rudolph and Ludwig announce their intention to have a Statutory Duel in the Act I finale, the Notary says "[[GratuitousLatin verbum sat]]"[[labelnote:meaning]]short form for a Latin phrase translating to "A word to the wise is sufficient" and meaning "wise men don't require lengthy explanations"[[/labelnote]] to skip over repetitive explanation, because the audience has already had the concept of a Statutory Duel explained to them in "About a Century Since".²* GoldDigger:²** Julia agrees to marry Ernest even though she hates him, because she wants to be Grand Duchess. When Ludwig becomes Grand Duke instead she insists on marrying ''him''.²** Rudolph and Caroline are an unusual example - they're ''mutual'' gold-diggers. Each is a rich miser who wants to marry the other in order to become even richer. They are quite frank with each other about this, and while they actually are affectionate to each other, it's clear that this is only because of the money.²* KlingonPromotion: Ludwig supplants his boss Ernest as head of the theatre company by defeating him in a Statutory Duel, because the winner of such a duel takes the loser's place--with [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt all its obligations]]. Both men expect the Statutory Duel law to expire the next day, and neither considers the possibility of an unexpected renewal...²* LegallyDead: The Statutory Duel is meant to be a duel to the death without the bloodshed, so the loser is considered dead for all legal purposes.²* PainfulRhyme: One of the more oft-criticised aspects of Gilbert's libretto is its perceived reliance on these, but Gilbert was aware of the problems inherent in painful rhymes, so "About a century since" in Act I features an in-universe acknowledgement:²-->'''Notary:''' By this ingenious law, if any two shall quarrel\²They may not fight with falchions bright which seemed to him immoral\²But each a card shall draw, and he who draws the lowest\²Shall (so 'twas said) be henceforth dead, in fact a legal ghoest!\²(When exigence of rhyme compels\²Orthography forgoes her spells\²And "ghost" is written "ghoest".)\²'''Ludwig, Lisa, Ernest, Julia:''' With what an emphasis he dwells\²Upon orthography and spells\²That kind of fun's the lowest!²* QuarrelingSong: A staged "devil of a quarrel", sung in duet with chorus, kicks off the finale to Act I. This sets up an equally staged Statutory Duel that in turn sets the stage for the events of Act II.²* {{Ruritania}}: The fictional Grand Duchy of Pfennig Halbpfennig is one of the dozens of tiny nation-states that were united with Prussia in 1871 to form what is now Germany.²* TranslationConvention: Although the story is set in a German-speaking nation-state, the characters all speak perfect English. Gilbert {{lampshaded}} this by having the only English character, Julia Jellicoe, speak in a comically bad German accent, at one point even complaining that German is a difficult language to master.[[note]]The part was written for a Hungarian actress.[[/note]]²* TyingUpRomanticLooseEnds: When it comes to light that [[spoiler:a misreading of the Statutory Duel law renders the results invalid]], Ludwig's UnwantedHarem evaporates and everyone is free to marry the person they'd rather marry - mostly. Ludwig is free to marry Lisa and only Lisa, and Ernest is free to marry Julia, but Rudolph ends up having to go through with his marriage to the Princess of Monte Carlo (which, now that she's rich, is fine by him), while her father, the Prince, ends up marrying Caroline von Krakenfeldt.[[note]] Some directors re-work the final scene to have Rudolph marrying the Baroness after all, while the Prince and Princess of Monte Carlo are left fuming.[[/note]]²* UnwantedHarem: Ludwig [[KlingonPromotion ascends to power]] by [[YouKillItYouBoughtIt winning multiple Statutory Duels]], but [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor finds himself an unwitting party]] to multiple [[ArrangedMarriage marriage commitments]] as a result.²* YouKillItYouBoughtIt: The winner of a Statutory Duel takes the loser’s place in society, with all attached obligations.²* YouLookLikeYouveSeenAGhost: When Ernest reappears in act two, Lisa enters, sees him and flees in horror. Ernest says, "One would think she saw a ghost!" Since Ernest is at this time LegallyDead, technically she did.²----


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