British Opera Overtures / Bonynge, Victorian Opera Orchestra

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BRITISH OPERA OVERTURES: English Opera in the Nineteenth Century Richard Bonynge, cond; Victorian Opera O SOMM 0123 (74:36)


BENEDICT The Lily of Killarny. BARNETT The Mountain Sylph. BALFE The Siege of Rochelle. Le Puits d’amour. LODER The Night Dancers. WALLACE Lurline. The Amber Witch. Love’s Triumph Prelude. MACFARREN She Stoops to Conquer. THOMAS The Golden Web


For the most part, these are pleasant, skillfully wrought pieces, though some may deride them as a mere parade of pleasant tunes. I imagine the annotator makes a valid point in blaming the librettos of the operas they precede for the music’s demise in popularity. If you’re really curious, a few of them have made their way to recordings. John Barnett’s opera The Mountain Sylph is based on the same story that resulted in the venerable ballet La Sylphide (1836), composed by Herman Løvenskiold with choreography by August Bournonville. Like Rossini, Duparc, and Sibelius, Barnett severely curtailed or stopped his composing, in his case, from 1841 until his death in 1890. During his long life, he met Beethoven and studied with Weber. On the other hand, Edward Loder’s The Night Dancers uses some of the same plot as another venerable ballet, Giselle (1841), and Puccini’s opera Le villi, but no unfaithful bridegrooms have to dance to their deaths—it all turns out to have been a bad dream. Unlike Barnett, Loder attempts a few spooky effects in his Overture. Probably the most successful of these Victorian composers was Michael William Balfe, who is represented by two overtures, those to The Siege of Rochelle and Le Puits d’amour (“The Well of Love”—it’s also a French pastry with a hollow center). The latter work, with a libretto by Scribe, was first presented in Paris. His first London success was The Siege of Rochelle , his fourth opera. He went on to compose 24 more, of which the most successful was The Bohemian Girl . Unlike most of these operas, William Wallace’s Lurline , based on the Lorelei legend, has actually been recorded. Both the Overture and that to his The Amber Witch seem more engaged by the story than some of the overtures I have mentioned. George Macfarren’s She Stoops to Conquer is, as expected, based on Oliver Goldsmith’s 1773 play. Some composers have continued to create even after they became deaf, or nearly so; Macfarren wrote She Stoops to Conquer after he had gone blind. It has not been recorded but there is a recording of another of his operas, Robin Hood . I am grateful to Richard Bonynge for his interest in obscure vocal and dance music which has resulted in some delightful recordings—in fact, I’m interested in almost anything he chooses to record. One can enrich the catalog without adding another Beethoven symphony cycle to it.


FANFARE: James Miller


Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: SOMMCD 0123


  • UPC: 748871012325


  • Label: SOMM Recordings


  • Composer: Arthur Goring Thomas, Edward James Loder, George Macfarren, John Barnett, Julius Benedict, Michael Balfe, William Vincent Wallace


  • Conductor: Richard Bonynge



Works:


  1. The Lily of Killarney: Overture

    Composer: Julius Benedict

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  2. The Siege of Rochelle: Overture

    Composer: Michael Balfe

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  3. Le Puits d'Amour: Overture

    Composer: Michael Balfe

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  4. The Night Dancers: Overture

    Composer: Edward James Loder

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  5. Lurline: Overture

    Composer: William Vincent Wallace

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  6. The Amber Witch: Overture

    Composer: William Vincent Wallace

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  7. Love's Triumph: Prelude

    Composer: William Vincent Wallace

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  8. She Stoops to Conquer: Overture

    Composer: George Macfarren

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  9. The Golden Web: Overture

    Composer: Arthur Goring Thomas

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge


  10. The Mountain Sylph: Overture

    Composer: John Barnett

    Conductor: Richard Bonynge