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Update – April 7, 2020


Plot Summary for Patience

ACT I

The opening scene is laid at “Castle Bunthorne,” where Bunthorne, aesthetic poet, is explaining to twenty love-sick maidens the mysteries of love, which, he asserts, can be cured by proper medical treatment. They listen to him with adoration, but he remains insensible to their passion. He loves Patience, they declare. Patience, a simple dairy-maid, has never loved anyone except an aunt, and learns that true love must be “utter unselfishness.” The previous year the officers of a regiment of Dragoon Guards, whose colonel now introduces himself and them in a rollicking, boastful song, has been much beloved by the twenty maidens, but now they are accorded a different welcome. Bunthorne has “idealised them” and “their eyes are opened.” When alone, he admits being a sham — only feigning aestheticism to gain admiration. Patience remembers a boy who was her child-companion, and when Archibald Grosvenor appears she discovers it is he. They love each other, but Patience, in the belief that true love is “utter unselfishness,” thinks she cannot marry one so perfect. Bunthorne, returning, has decided to put himself up to be raffled for, and just as the lot is to be drawn, Patience in her “utter unselfishness” says that she will marry him because “she detests him so.” The disappointed maidens then return to the Dragoons, but when they see Archibald Grosvenor, immediately transfer their affections to him because “he is aesthetic!” Bunthorne is jealous, and the Dragoons disgusted.

ACT II

A “Rural Glade.” The unattractive Jane bewails the lot of maidens who have been in that state too long. Grosvenor is now adored by all the maidens. He is somewhat annoyed by their attentions for they have followed him since Monday. He pleads for “the usual half holiday on Saturday.” Patience, meanwhile, muses upon love. Bunthorne, deserted and consumed by jealousy, has still one faithful admirer — the portly Lady Jane, whose charms decrease as her size increases. She implores him not to wait too long, but Bunthorne is determined to beat Grosvenor on his own ground. At last the rival poets meet. Bunthorne threatens to “curse” Archibald unless he consents to cut his hair and become quite commonplace. Grosvenor outwardly appalled, but secretly relieved, consents to become an “every day young man”. Now that Bunthorne is happy, Patience, in her “utter unselfishness,” breaks her engagement. Upon Archibald Grosvenor’s return, in a tweed suit, she realizes that since he is now a commonplace young man, she can marry him. Bunthorne finds that the twenty love-sick maidens have returned to their soldier-lovers. He then decides to console himself with the portly Lady Jane. But the Duke of Dunstable, desirous of marrying a plain woman, has already claimed Lady Jane, so Bunthorne is left without a bride!

[Plot summary from the book The Victor Book of the Opera, RCA Manufacturing Co., Camden, NJ, 1936.]