This album brings together, for the first time, music by two of Britain’s leading female composers of the early twentieth century: Ethel Smyth and Liza Lehmann. Smyth described her beautiful one-act opera of 1923, Fête Galante, as ‘A Dance-Dream’. It is a romantic evocation of the traditional commedia dell’arte – the world of Harlequin, Pierrot and Columbine. In an idyllic Watteau-esque garden, we find love, jealousy, deception and danger as life mysteriously mimics art. Will Pierrot identify the Queen’s lover, or must he pay the ultimate price for silence?
Liza Lehmann’s dramatic ‘recitation’, or melodrama, of 1908, The Happy Prince, is a musical retelling of Oscar Wilde’s celebrated story of self-sacrifice and redemption. Composed for reciter and pianist, this recording of Lehmann’s charming musical melodrama is an excellent insight into the rarely explored world of a form once extremely popular.
Special feature: Historic recordings of excerpts from Fête Galante, The Boatswain’s Mate, and Entente Cordiale performed by The Light Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.
Ethel Smyth (1858–1944): Fête Galante (First Recording) – A Dance-Dream in One Act, Poetic version by Edward Shanks, after Maurice Baring’s story, Charmian Bedford (soprano), Carolyn Dobbin (mezzo-soprano), Felix Kemp (baritone), Simon Wallfisch (baritone), Mark Milhofer (tenor), Alessandro Fisher (tenor); Lontano Ensemble, Odaline de la Martinez/ Liza Lehmann (1862–1918): The Happy Prince (First Recording) – After the story by Oscar Wilde, Dame Felicity Lott (reciter), Valerie Langfield (piano)
Retrospect Opera retrospectopera.org.uk / email@example.com, 82 Queens Road, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, SK8 5HH, UK