Sunday, 21 February 2010

Arthur Sullivan: Ivanhoe - a romantic opera.

Over at MusicWeb International Raymond J Walker has given an encouraging review of the exciting new Chandos edition of the ‘grand’ opera Ivanhoe by Sir Arthur Sullivan. For anyone who imagines that Sullivan did not exist as an operatic composer apart from his collaborator W.S. Gilbert, this will come as a pleasant surprise. Ivanhoe is a large, romantic opera in three long acts which push towards three hours. The libretto, by Julian Sturgis, is based on the well-known novel by Sir Walter Scott. The first night was at the English Opera House (now the Palace Theatre) on 31 January 1891. It was immensely successful and ran for 155 consecutive performances. It is on my list of CDs to purchase!

Raymond J. Walker begins his review by lamenting the fact that “it is amazing that we have had to wait so long for the first professional recording of Sullivan’s only grand opera.”
He is impressed with the “the singers [who] provide a polished performance, sing superbly and support each other admirably…The chorus is fine and adds considerable weight to the opera.”
Finally he concludes that “For too long the establishment has turned its back on the rich scores of 19th century British composers. Ivanhoe should have been a central work to the 2000 Proms when Sullivan’s centenary took place. We owe it to musicians like Sir Charles Mackerras, Ronald Corp and David Lloyd-Jones to remind us of our previous loss in this genre.”
This new recording from Chandos has been substantially supported by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society’s.
Please read the full review at MusicWeb International.
A short sound extract of this opera can be heard on the Chandos website.

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