Cellier, François: Captain Billy. Rental
Two full scores (conductor and producer), one vocal score
(producer), and instrumental material
Duration: c.43 minutes
For soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone and bass soloists with two flutes (one doubling piccolo), oboe, two clarinets in A and B flat, two bassoons, two horns, two cornets in A and B flat, two trombones, timpani/percussion (one player) and strings
The publication of François Cellier’s Captain Billy and Ernest Ford’s Mr Jericho sheds light on a little-known aspect of late-Victorian theatre. These one-act operettas were produced at the Savoy Theatre and written to precede as curtain-raisers the main, full-length work of the evening.
Richard D’Oyly Carte did much to cultivate the genre, initiated by Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury in 1875. Though all but forgotten today, the composers François Cellier (1849–1914) and Ernest Ford (1858–1919) had strong connections with Sullivan. Captain Billy (1891) is the swashbuckling tale of a pirate who is reunited with his nephew, a young foundling he lost in ‘the great desert of Sahara’ as a baby, and ultimately finds redemption in a new life as a travelling soap-salesman. Contains hornpipes!