Retrospect Opera

Great British Operas On Record

Christmas Gambols and The Musical Tour of Mr Dibdin by Charles Dibdin
    This is the first album devoted to the songs of Charles Dibdin. Having written and composed the most successful English operas of the 1770s, and achieved fame as an actor and singer, Dibdin developed his own one-man show, allowing him to display all his talents. He called these shows, in which he stood or sat at a piano, ‘Table Entertainments’. His songs were written to be presented dramatically in these shows, and Retrospect Opera have recorded the songs as they were originally meant to be heard, in the first ever recreation of the Table Entertainments. The Musical Tour of Mr Dibdin is a shortened version of Dibdin's first Table Entertainment, from 1787, while the main piece, Christmas Gambols, is a complete Christmas show from 1795. Christmas Gambols, a celebration of traditional Christmas games and festivity, offers the fullest picture of an eighteenth-century English Christmas available anywhere.

  • Tracks 1-9: from The Musical Tour of Mr Dibdin (29.54)
  • Tracks 10-17: Christmas Gambols (44.36)
  • Simon Butteriss (baritone)
  • Stephen Higins (fortepiano)

  • The 36-page booklet includes the full libretto, and essays by Simon Butteriss, David Chandler and Jeremy Barlow.
Pickwick by Burnand & Solomon and Cups and Saucers by George Grossmith
    The one-act operetta Pickwick, the first successful musical adaptation of one of Charles Dickens's stories, has a delightful, fun-filled (and pun-filled) libretto by Sir Francis Burnand, the versatile writer who had teamed up with Sullivan before the latter established his more enduring partnership with W. S. Gilbert. The most famous incident in Pickwick Papers, the hilarious 'misunderstanding' between Mr Pickwick and Mrs Bardell, is brought to life in a series of sparkling songs and duets. The companion work, Cups and Saucers of 1876, was written, composed and performed by George Grossmith (1847-1912), best known for his origination of many of the Gilbert and Sullivan patter roles, but a talented composer and writer in his own right. It is a delicious little satire on the British obsession with Oriental china and may have helped inspire The Mikado.

  • Tracks 1-20: Pickwick (55.00)
  • The cast is:
Pickwick - Simon Butteriss
Mrs Bardell - Gaynor Keeble
The Baker - Toby Stafford-Allen
Tommy - Alessandro MacKinnon
  • Tracks 21-28: Cups and Saucers (18.18)
  • The cast is: 
General Deelah - Simon Butteriss
Mrs Worcester - Gaynor Keeble
  • The pianist for both is Stephen Higgins
  • The 36-page booklet includes the full libretto, and essays by David Chandler, Kurt Gänzl and Simon Butteriss.
The Boatswain’s Mate by Ethel Smyth

    Somewhere in the English countryside we find the self-regarding ex-boatswain Harry Benn, determined to win the hand of the widowed landlady, Mrs Waters, at all costs. But is he wise to involve the younger, handsome Ned Travers in his scheming? And is the sturdily independent Mrs Waters ready to lay aside her shotgun and embrace romance? She is no stereotyped operatic heroine and generates comic twists and turns aplenty!

  • CD1 - tracks 1-16 - Part 1 (47.12)
  • CD2 - tracks 1-8 - Part 2 
  • CD2 - tracks 9-17 - extracts from The Boatswain’s Mate (recorded in 1916), conducted by Ethel Smyth, with Rosina Buckman, Frederick Ranalow, and Courtice Pounds
  • CD2 - track 18, overture to The Wreckers (recorded in 1930), conducted by Ethel Smyth
  • CD2 total 73.44
  • The cast is: 
Mrs Waters - Nadine Benjamin
Harry Benn - Edward Lee
Ned Travers - Jeremy Huw Williams
Policeman - Simon Wilding
Mary Ann - Rebecca Louise Dale
The Man - Ted Schmitz
Chorus - Mark Nathan
The Lontano Ensemble, conducted by Odaline de la Martinez.
  • The 32-page booklet includes the full libretto, and essays by Odaline de la Martinez, Christopher Wiley, and David Chandler.