QUEEN OF A CERTAIN AGE
She is the symbol of law; she is by law, and setting apart
the metaphysics, and the abnormal incidents of revolution,
the source of power.
—W. E. Gladstone
As Queen Victoria's monarchy entered its fourth decade, the playwright William Schwenck Gilbert and the musician Arthur Sullivan were writing comic operas featuring an adaptation of a stock character, the dame figure, who possesses unpredictable yet strong emotions. Their Savoy Operas allow a disturbing power to those women of a certain age. Born less than a year before the slender eighteen-year-old Victoria ascended the throne, Gilbert (1836–1911) grew up in a world according to Victoria, while Sullivan (1842–1900) lived and died within the years of her reign. The year after Gilbert and Sullivan's first success, Trial by Jury (1875), eclipsed the featured production at the Royalty Theatre, the queen acquired the title, "Empress of India." Twenty years later, in 1896, The Grand Duke, last of the Savoy Operas, opened before an audience that would the following year celebrate the queen's Diamond Jubilee. During the decades of the creation of the Savoy Operas, the sovereign began to emerge from seclusion, entertain potentates, and participate in ceremonial events. Although suffering from rheumatism in her legs, she nonetheless occasionally danced in Scotland at the gillies' ball, sometimes with her children, eventually with her grandchildren. The dame, an overbearing woman of a certain