The plot for this all hinges on the drinking of a potion that puts people to sleep, and on awakening 'falling in love with the first person they see' with the expected complications. The cure for this is for the protagonist (John Wellington Wells) to kill himself, and all returns to normal. Gilbert's 'magic lozenge' plot for the first time. The opera opens with the villagers (the chorus) celebrating the fact that 'squire' Sir Marmaduke's son, Alexis, an officer in the Grenadier Guards is to be officially betrothed to Aline, Lady Sangazure's daughter. Lady Sangazure is the first in a long line of middle-aged to elderly contraltos that Gilbert was so fond of. Meanwhile, Mrs Partlet (she is would you believe, the pew opener...) and her daughter Constance appear. Constance confesses that she is in love with Dr Daly, the vicar who promptly enters although not seeing her. Dr Daly (for it is he) then contemplates the passing of the years after which Mrs Partlet puts out a few feelers on Constance's part. However the vicar tells her that his amorous days are over, and that he is resigned to bachelorhood. Next come on Sir Marmaduke and Alexis. Sir M. confesses that 50 (!) years ago he was in love with Lady Sangazure, and she with him. The girls chorus enter with Aline to be immediately welcomed by Lady S., and rapturously by Alexis who retires upstage with her. Alexis and Aline are so happy with each other that Alexis insists that everybody should share his happiness, and to that end he has obtained a 'love-philtre' from J.W.Wells & Co., family Sorcerers. Guess who is nearby to come on and sing a patter song. At Alexis' bidding, Aline fetches a large teapot into which Mr Wells puts the philtre. All the villagers drink this and fall asleep. End of Act One.

Act Two opens with villagers waking up and falling in love with the first person (of the opposite sex of course) that they see. Constance with the elderly notary who officiated at the betrothal ceremony of Alexis and Aline, Sir M. with Mrs Partlet, and Lady S with J.W.Wells. Now JWW is getting worried about the wholesale effects his drug has had. Meanwhile Alexis has suggested to Aline that they drink the drug, and she initially refuses, but on changing her mind, the first person she sees is Dr Daly. Dr Daly realises that she is spoken for, so he offers to leave the country at once, since he does not wish to be a rival. This is not required of him, since JWW appears and says that the spell can only be broken if either he or Alexis yield up their life. No competition and JWW descends through a trapdoor in a burst of red fire. Everything is back to normal now, and the opera ends on a happy note.

Set in a sort of village fete in Mummerset - striped tents, the local squire and the vicar with the teapot. During the original production run, the ending of Act one and the start of Act two were rewritten. The current version is better. Only one set can be an advantage. No costume changes for the chorus. The 1977 show was the one when the BBC came and filmed for a local series on 'Make mine music', for 'Look North'. We staged this with a conventional set and costume.A tape of it still exists somewhere.