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The Night Winds: Lurline (Wallace) (1860)
Placida Notte: Il Talismano (Balfe) (1870)
'Tis the Harp: Maritana (Wallace) (1845)
'Twas in that Garden: The Siege of Rochelle (Balfe) (1835)
Nella Dolce Trepidanza: Il Talismano (Balfe) (1870)
Lord of our Chosen Race: Ivanhoe (Sullivan) (1891)
'Neath My Lattice: The Rose of Persia (Sullivan) (1898)
Scenes that are Brightest: Maritana (Wallace) (1845)
Little Princess: Amassis (Faraday)
The Convent Cell: The Rose of Castille (Balfe) (1848)
There's a Power: Satanella (Balfe) (1858)
The Rapture Dwelling: The Maid of Antois (Balfe) (1836)
Yon Moon o'er the Mountain: The Maid of Antois (Balfe) (1836)
Oh! Could I but his Heart enslave: Satanella (Balfe) (1858)
Bliss For Ever Past: The Puritan's Daughter: (Balfe) (1861)
The Naiad's Spell: Lurline (Wallace) (1860)
These Withered Flowers: Love's Triumph (Wallace) (1862)
My Long Hair is Braided: The Amber Witch (Wallace) (1861)
Deborah Riedel (soprano), Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra/Bonynge
Rec. St Scholastica Chapel, Sidney in August 1999
MELBA 301082 [69.49]
Only available in Australia and New Zealand .
Contact for details

This disc is quite a rarity and without the personal interest of Richard Bonynge in these forgotten composers their arias would never have been mastered. About two years ago Bonynge paid a visit to Liverpool to see the collection of full scores and band parts owned by the Carl Rosa Trust. To many, the works on this disc will be unknown, even the composers, apart from Sullivan, are not well known. But don't let this put you off reading further.

There was a time when the ballad operas of Balfe, Wallace and Sullivan played to packed theatres in London, a time when critics spoke of the 'English Ring'. For too long these composers have been neglected. That doesn't mean to say that they wrote great works, but in them are real operatic gems of catchy melodies - as good as those of the continental masters. In their heyday, between 1835 and 1892, most of the operas were presented at Drury Lane, Covent Garden (then known as the Royal Italian Opera), or the English Opera House (now the Palace Theatre). We may remember that in 1951 Balfe's 'Rose of Castille' was chosen as the opera to open the very first Wexford Festival.

The pieces on this disc are well chosen and provide the listener with music of very different styles. Balfe uses melodies in the style of Mozart, Auber, Verdi and Tchaikovsky, with orchestrations which may not be particularly sophisticated (a weakness not evident in these arias). Wallace and Sullivan, as more accomplished musicians, provide arias of sound structure and excellent orchestration which sometimes carry echoes of Mendelssohn, Wagner and Weber where all sections of the orchestra elegantly complement the vocal line.

Australian born Deborah Reidel studied at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music where she won a number of singing awards. She has a wide repertoire in opera and on this disc sings with ease and much feeling. Her voice has a pleasantly pure timbre and wide compass. She is a good choice for the widely differing styles needed for the musical numbers.

The disc comes with a comprehensive book of notes, archive pictures and lyrics for all songs.

CD producers need to be aware of an increasing national interest in this kind of forgotten British music which Bonynge unearthed: currently only professional recordings of Balfe's 'Bohemian Girl'(ARGO), Wallace's 'Maritana' (Marco Polo) and semi-professional recording of Sullivan's 'Ivanhoe' (Pearl) exist. When you have heard this disc you'll ask why.

I shall look forward to this disc being the impetus for increasing an interest in these lost works and maybe Wexford will again select a Balfe or Wallace opera to perform and which on of the record companies will record.

Raymond Walker

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