Thomas and Sally

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Thomas and Sally (also known as The Sailor's Return) is a dramatic pastoral opera in two acts by the composer Thomas Arne with an English libretto by Isaac Bickerstaff. The opera was meant to be performed as an "after piece", which is a short musical work to be performed after a spoken play.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

Thomas Arne British composer

Thomas Augustine Arne was an English composer. He is best known for his patriotic song Rule Britannia, a version of God Save the King, which became the British national anthem, and the song A-Hunting We Will Go. Arne was a leading British theatre composer of the 18th century, working at Drury Lane and Covent Garden.


Performance history

The opera was initially scheduled to premiere in October 1760 but was postponed due to the death of King George II. The opera eventually premiered on 28 November 1760 at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and enjoyed a successful run. Thomas and Sally is one of only a few works by Arne that was not destroyed in the disastrous fire at Covent Garden in 1808 and has occasionally been revived during the past century. [1] [2]

George II of Great Britain British monarch

George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) and a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 (O.S.) until his death in 1760.

The opera made its Broadway debut at the Little Theatre on 4 January 1938 by the Intimate Opera Company with Geoffrey Dunn as Thomas, Winifred Radford as Sally, and Frederick Woodhouse as the Squire. [3] Thomas and Sally also has the distinction of being one of the first operas recreated for television. The BBC made a television production of the opera in 1937 with Joan Collier as Sally, Vivienne Chatterton as Dorcas, Henry Wendon as Thomas, and Dennis Noble as the Squire. [4]

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, commonly known as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

The Intimate Opera Company was an English opera company based in London which specialized in performances of chamber operas. Founded in 1930 by British baritone and impresario Frederick Woodhouse, the company was established with the professed aim of reviving forgotten chamber operas of the past. Most of the company's productions were produced on a smaller scale, using only piano accompaniment, costumes, minimal sets, and no props.

Television telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

Musical analysis

Thomas and Sally is about fifty minutes in length and is notable in that it is the first English comic opera to be sung throughout. The orchestration is also unusual for a lighter opera of this period, as Arne included clarinets in the score which were usually only used in tragic pieces. The nautical themes in the libretto led Arne to compose a sturdy score that includes a boisterous hunting song for the Squire. Sally's songs are written in an opera buffo style. [1] [2]

Orchestration study or practice of writing music for an orchestra

Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for an orchestra or of adapting music composed for another medium for an orchestra. Also called "instrumentation", orchestration is the selection of different instruments to play the different parts of a musical work. For example, a work for solo piano could be adapted and orchestrated so that an orchestra could perform the piece, or a concert band piece could be orchestrated for a symphony orchestra.

Clarinet type of woodwind instrument

The clarinet is a musical-instrument family belonging to the group known as the woodwind instruments. It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight, cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore, and a flared bell. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist.


CastVoice typePremiere, 28 November 1760
(Conductor: - Thomas Arne )
Sally, a milkmaid soprano Charlotte Brent
Thomas, a sailor baritone
A Squire, infatuated with Sally tenor William Mattocks
Dorcas, a matron mezzo-soprano Vernon


Act One

Sally is distraught over the impending loss of Thomas who is about to embark on a sea voyage which will separate them for a long time. The lovers tearfully say goodbye to one another. Meanwhile, the squire is infatuated with Sally but has not pursued her because of Thomas. Now that Thomas is gone, the squire decides to try to woo Sally under the encouragement of Dorcas. Sally spurns the squire. Seeing that he has failed, Dorcas tries to help him out by advising Sally to celebrate her youth. Sally, however, remains firm in her devotion to Thomas.

Act Two

The squire and Dorcas continue to plot together in the attempt to woo Sally. Just as it seems like Sally may give in, Thomas returns to rescue Sally and the two declare that they will marry.

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