OP3127. THE CONTRABANDISTA; THE FORESTERS (both Arthur Sullivan), recorded 2004, w.Ronald Corp Cond.The London Chorus & New London Orch.; Claire Rutter, Frances McCafferty, Ashley Catling, Donald Maxwell, Richard Stuart, etc. (England) Hyperion CDA 67486, w.23pp Libretto-Brochure. - 034571174860
“THE CONTRABANDISTA - a ‘comic opera in two acts’ dating from 1867 - tells the story of the hapless Adolphus Cimabue Grigg, an English traveller who is co-opted into becoming leader of the Ladrones, a notorious band of thieves. Amid shenanigans of more than a passing resemblance to Bizet’s THE PEARL FISHERS, Sullivan successfully imbues the spice of the Spanish countryside into his score. His second opera to reach the stage, this early work - to a libretto by Francis Burnand - already shows much of the musical mastery that was to characterize so many of Sullivan’s later collaborations with W S Gilbert.
First performed - simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic - in 1892, THE FORESTERS sets verses by Lord Tennyson on the theme of Robin Hood. Warmly received in the States, the work met with a distinctly hostile reception in London, where critics were less than impressed by the (American) lead soprano and gave Tennyson’s libretto a roasting. Sullivan’s score, by contrast, was universally recognized as being the saving grace; this new recording gives a new century the opportunity to draw its own conclusion.”