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A many years ago - No. 20, Song
from Act II of the English opera H.M.S. Pinafore by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto: W.S. Gilbert

Role: Little Buttercup, a bumboat woman in love with Captain Corcoran
Voice Part: mezzo-soprano|contralto       Fach: contralto
Setting: quarterdeck of the H.M.S. Pinafore at night, anchored off Portsmouth, England, late 1800's
Synopsis: Buttercup explains to Sir Joseph, the crew of the Pinafore, and Sir Joseph's female relatives that she was the wetnurse for both Ralph the seaman and Captain Corcoran. However, she mixed them up and later realized that she had given the wrong baby to each family. So, Ralph should be the high-born Captain and Captain Corcoran should be the poor sailor.
Range: Tessitura:
B3 - E5B3 - B4
Translations/Aria Texts:
Libretto entered by Gilbert and Sullivan Archive (added 2000-07-24)
A many years ago, Buttercup's aria from HMS Pinafore

BUT.	A many years ago,
 	When I was young and charming,
 	As some of you may know,
 	I practised baby-farming.

ALL.	Now this is most alarming!
	When she was young and charming,
	She practised baby-farming,
	A many years ago.

BUT.	Two tender babes I nursed:
	One was of low condition,
	The other, upper crust,
	A regular patrician.

ALL 	Now, this is the position:
	One was of low condition,
	The other a patrician,
	A many years ago.

BUT.	Oh, bitter is my cup!
	However could I do it?
	I mixed those children up,
	And not a creature knew it!

ALL.	However could you do it?
	Some day, no doubt, you'll rue it,
	Although no creature knew it,
	So many years ago.

BUT.	In time each little waif
	Forsook his foster-mother,
	The well born babe was Ralph--
	Your captain was the other!!!

ALL.	They left their foster-mother,
	The one was Ralph, our brother,
	Our captain was the other,
	A many years ago.
Sheet Music/Scores:
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