Set in India, the narrative begins when Chunder (the temple-keeper), who has pawned the golden image of the god Shiva, attempts to propitiate the rajah by offering him his beautiful daughter Aimee as wife. However, she is an unwilling proposition, having been smitten by the handsome pilgrim Jengis, who won her affection while impersonating Shiva. The rajah exposes Jengis and orders him to be beheaded, but is foiled by a beggar, who is none other than a disguised emperor. The emperor degrades the rajah and gives the young couple his blessing.
The libretto was written by Souter around 1907, with the rajah as the central comic character. Souter was apparently influenced by The Cingalee at the time, and originally planned to have the rajah close the shrine, pawn off the god, and travel to Paris on the proceeds, instead of going on a pilgrimage. However, the 'White Australia' cry at the time caused J .C. Williamson to reject the idea and never stage the opera.
Some years later, Victor Prince suggested to Souter that the white element be eliminated and that the plot be remodelled on romantic lines. Alfred Hill (who had previously worked with Souter on Tapu, after J. C. Williamson had asked that that the libretto be reworked) was then brought in to compose the music.
The Brisbane Courier's 'Music and Drama' column reported, prior to the Sydney premiere, that the 'comedy is not extraneous, but arises out of the story and is neat and clever (24 November 1917, p.12).
Much of the music is founded on Indian airs and melodies. Some song titles include 'Love, it is a Song', 'The Coughdrop', 'Maid of the Dear Eyes', 'Sad is the Heart', and 'Sword of Mine.'
Very likely a spoof on the 1917 Alfred Hill comic opera, The Rajah of Shivapore (which had been staged in Brisbane in 1918), the production is described in the Brisbane Courier as a picturesque Eastern comic opera (18 August 1919, p.8). It was likely to have been staged, however, in the style of a one-act musical comedy . The storyline involved Elton Black as a sergeant of marines, with Alice Bennetto as the graceful daughter of a rajah, Lou Vernon as an Indian potentate, and Reg Hewett as the royal executioner.
Songs known to have been presented within the production are 'Invitation' (sung by Olga Muir), 'Up from Somerset' (Percy Mackay), and 'I'm the Rajah of Dampoor' and 'Achoo' (both sung by Lou Vernon). One of the highlights of the November 1919 revival, according to the same Brisbane Courier review, was Elton Black's 'feelingly' descriptive idea of being 'In Love.'
Alice Bennetto (who played Aimee, the temple keeper's daughter, in the premiere production) later took part in The Rajah of Dampoor, a burlesque version of the opera. This production was staged at the Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane, in 1919 by the Town Topics.
1917: Playhouse Theatre, Sydney, 15 December 1917 - ca. January 1918.
1918: His Majesty's Theatre, Brisbane, 12-19 January.
1918: Princess Theatre, Melbourne, 9 February. - 2 March.