This website is devoted to English opera, i.e. opera with an original English libretto, written during the Victorian Era
and which aspired to rival continental opera of the day.
The era can be divided into two. The first part covers 1834-1866, whose chief protagonist was Michael
William Balfe but in which other composers, such as John Barnett, Julius
Benedict, Edward Loder, George Alexander Macfarren and William Vincent
Wallace, also played a significant part. Many of their operas enjoyed
initial success but few managed to hold the stage until
century and even they had largely disappeared within
the first few decades. For them, Italian
opera was the main competitor. The second part, which
stretched from 1876 until 1901,
was a rather more disparate effort, often under the
aegis of the Carl Rosa Company, with, once again, some initial
success but ultimately failure to gain a hold in the repertoire.
Here the competition was more general with German opera,
primarily Wagner, becoming an increasingly important
focus is on composition and performance of Victorian
English opera in Britain and primarily in London, the
key centre of activity. However, pointers
to its history elsewhere are given on the Other
An article of the changing ways that female singers are were titled in the 19th century can be found here.
Matthew Spring, Bath Spa University, and Andrew Clarke, Independent Researcher, are organising a Loder Celebration in Bath, UK
on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October, 2015 hosted by the Bath Spa
University Department of Music in partnership with the Holburne Museum of Art. The Celebration will compliment the publication of a
book by Nicholas Temperley and a recording of the Edward Loder’s opera Raymond & Agnes,
the sesquicentennial of whose death is being marked during 2015. A flyer with background on the Loder project can be found here. There is also an article by Andrew Lamb on Loder at MusicWeb International.
Retrospect Opera are planning recordings of Loder's Raymond and Agnes and Smyth's The Boatswain's Mate while Victorian Opera Northwest are planning to record Balfe's Satanella
The libretto for Barnett's The Mountain Sylph has been added here. Librettos for Thomson's Hermann ( here) and Loder's Raymond and Agnes ( here) have also been made available. An essay that relates the Raymond and Agnes libretto to Lewis's novel The Monk and to some of its dramatisations can be found here.
An article on the bass singer Theodore Victor Giubilei together with short sketches of his wife Augustine Clara Proche and half-brother Augustus can be found here.
Paul Rodmell has recently published a book that
covers in detail the last third of the Victorian
era in his Opera in the British
Isles, 1875-1918. (Farnham, UK:
Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2013)
collection of recordings and scores of some
early 19th century theatre, art and
popular songs is available at http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/douglass/music/index.html
Walker has written a short note on the recent
study day on Travelling Opera in the late
19th century. See http://seenandheard-international.com/2013/10/taking-opera-people/
SOMM have released
a CD (SOMMCD
0131) of Wallace Songs sung by Sally
Silver with Richard Bonynge at the piano.
An excerpt from "Through the
pathless forest drear"
can be heard here
and from "Bird of the Wild
The Beauty Stone
This Chandos recording (CHAN 10794 (2))
with the BBC National Orchestra of
Wales under Rory Macdonald
is the first fully professional recording of the opera and features Elin
Manahan Thomas, Toby Spence, Rebecca Evans, Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Alan Opie.
for more details.
Music Trust are offering a
number of recordings of English Opera, both
Victorian (see here
for list) and 20th century, as well as opera
in English. They have just added the 1968
recording of Benedict's The Lily of Killarney.
William Balfe wrote a number of original
operas for continental houses as well as
translations and adaptations of some of his
more popular English operas. Basil Walsh
has opened a new site dedicated to these.
orchestra of Victorian
Opera Northwest under Richard
Bonynge have recorded a number
of Victorian English opera
overtures and they are now available
CD 0123 : British Opera Overtures.
More detail on the content
can be found here.