Cover to 1976 D'Oyly Carte Recording - with The Grand DukeThe Zoo

A musical folly in 1 Act by 'Bolton Rowe' (B.C. Stephenson). Music by Arthur Sullivan.

St James' Theatre, London 5 June, 1875. Transferred to Haymarket Theatre 28 June, 1875


When the curtain rises we see Aesculapius Carboy, crossed in love, miserably trying to put an end to his existence. He is madly in love with Laetitia but her father has sternly forbidden them to meet. Now, noose in hand, the Apothecary stands on a chair determined to hang himself from the Refreshment Stall. He tells his tale of woe to the passing crowd but is overheard by Eliza who, emerging from the Stall, confiscates the rope.

One of the onlookers is Thomas Brown, who loves Eliza and daily consumes vast quantities of food and drink at the Stall so that he can be near her. But this time he overdoes it and faints from a surfeit of pies, ginger beer and very much more. Luckily the Apothecary is at hand to write a prescription which Eliza takes to be dispensed. After she has gone, Thomas recovers and is found by all to be a member of the aristocracy in disguise (he goes about wearing the Order of the Garter beneath his overcoat). Before leaving, he declares his intention of making an honest woman of her. Suddenly Grinder arrives in a great rage, seeking his daughter. He is too late however, for Laetitia is elsewhere in the Zoo with her beloved Carboy.

When Eliza returns with the medicine she is mystified to find Thomas already gone, while the great British Public, who always enjoy a mystery, give evasive answers to her questions. In a quiet moment she explains to anyone who cares to listen that she is a simple little child, though it soon becomes clear that she is anything but this and has an army of admirers. Meanwhile Grinder has found Laetitia with Carboy and an angry scene follows in which the Apothecary once again determines to end his life. He calls for a rope, which is quickly found, and lowers himself into the Bear-Pit.

Now, to everyone's surprise, Thomas Brown reappears wearing a ducal coronet and the robes of the Order of the Garter. He reveals to all that he is none other than the Duke of Islington. He has bought the Zoo as a wedding present for Eliza, to whom he now proposes. After a careful show of reluctance she accepts him.

Cries of despair bring their attention back to Carboy who climbs out of the Bear-Pit having once again failed to kill himself. In consequence of some repairs the bears have been removed to the Lions' Den, and the unhappy man declares his intention of seeking them out. But the Duke of Islington has heard the tale of Carboy and Letitia from Eliza, and discovers that Grinder is only too ready to relent at the sight of money. So the opera comes to a happy end. Eliza becomes the Duchess of Islington and Laetitia marries her Aescalapius after all.

Terence Rees

Cast of Characters

Aesculapius Carboy
Thomas Brown
Mr. Grinder
Eliza Smith

Musical Numbers

  1. The British Public
  2. I Loved Her Fondly
  3. And Now Let's Go Back
  4. Ah, Maiden Fair
  5. Where Is He?
  6. Once More the Face
  7. Help! Ah, Help!
  8. Ho Guards! Minions!
  9. Ladies and Gentlemen
  10. We Gather From What YOu Have Said
  11. Where Is My Daughter?
  12. I'm a Simple Little Child
  13. My Father!
  14. Finale: What Do I See in This Disguise?