OP3130. THE SORCERER (Gilbert & Sullivan), recorded 1966, w.Godfrey Cond. D'Oyly Carte Ensemble; Donald Adams, David Palmer, Christine Palmer, Valerie Masterson, etc.; THE ZOO (Rowe & Sullivan), recorded 1977, w.Royston Nash Cond. D'Oyly Carte Ensemble; Meston Reid, Kenneth Sandford, John Ayldon, Julia Goss, Jane Metcalfe, etc. (Germany) 2-Decca 473 659. Long out-of-print, final excellent, ever-so-slightly used copy! - 028947365921
“Having shown what could be done with TRIAL BY JURY, Carte found financial backers and organized the Comedy Opera Company to pursue his dream of English musical theater. He then contracted with Gilbert and Sullivan to write their first full-length comic opera: THE SORCERER, which opened at London’s Opera Comique on17 November, 1877. The opera was at least moderately successful and ran for 178 performances.
THE SORCERER is historically significant in that it set the pattern and style that made the succeeding operas so successful. Gilbert’s control over the acting company and his firm insistence on disciplined teamwork were innovations that were then badly needed in British theater. He also brought into the company such stalwart performers as George Grossmith, Rutland Barrington, and Richard Temple. These performers (and soon others) stayed with the company for many years, and Gilbert and Sullivan obligingly wrote many roles specifically to suit their talents.
THE SORCERER’S plot involves an engaged couple who want everyone to be as happy as they, and so the groom-to-be brings in a ‘family sorcerer’ to administer a love potion to the entire village. As you might expect, the love potion works, but everyone falls in love with the wrong partner. All is made right in the end, however, as the sorcerer breaks the spell by the expedient of giving himself up to the powers of evil –– in an appropriate puff of smoke. (You will soon learn that the Gilbert and Sullivan operas do not hinge on strongly convincing conclusions.)
THE ZOO is a one-act comic opera, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by B. C. Stephenson, writing under the pen name of Bolton Rowe. It premiered on 5 June 1875 at the St. James' Theatre in London (as an afterpiece to W. S. Gilbert's Tom Cobb), concluding its run five weeks later, on 9 July 1875, at the Haymarket Theatre. There were brief revivals in late 1875, and again in 1879, before the opera was shelved.
The farcical story concerns two pairs of lovers. First, a nobleman, who goes to the zoo to woo the girl who sells snacks there. He tries to impress her by buying and eating all of the food. The other couple is a young chemist who believes that he has poisoned his beloved by mixing up her father's prescription with peppermint that he had meant for her.
The score was not published in Sullivan's lifetime, and it lay dormant until Terence Rees purchased the composer's autograph at auction in 1966 and arranged for publication. The opera is in one act without spoken dialogue, running about 40 minutes. LIKE TRIAL BY JURY and COX AND BOX, it has been staged as a curtain-raiser to the shorter Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Triple-bills of Sullivan's three one-act operas have also proved successful.”
- Benford's Gilbert and Sullivan Lexicon