OP0497. THE BOHEMIAN GIRL (Balfe), recorded 1991, w. Bonynge Cond. Irish National Opera Ensemble; Nova Thomas, Patrick Power, Jonathan Summers, Bernadette Cullen, John del Carlo & Timothy German. 2-Argo 433 324, Slipcase Edition w. Elaborate 190pp. Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 028943332422
Beecham conducted only two operas at Covent Garden after the War - DIE MEISTERSINGER and THE BOHEMIAN GIRL, of which a tantalising snippet has apparently circulated amongst collectors. If the juxtaposition seems absurd the works were, at least, mid-century and near contemporaneous, Wagners dating from 1868 and Balfes from 1843. In its day, of course, THE BOHEMIAN GIRL was the most widely known and successful of all British operas of the nineteenth century and contains much still to admire
.These discs derive from a Dublin concert performance. Performers are personable enough, sometimes more, and the men superior to the women but Bonynges direction doesnt manage to wring the charm from Balfes score or limit the damage of some undistinguished writing. Too often the score seems a rehash of Donizetti-Weber, energy generated is dissipated, operatic momentum wasted. I enjoyed Patrick Powers Thaddeus; something in his tone hearkens back to the glory days of Nash, Walter Widdop and Tudor Davies though he lacks their instinctive repose and charisma. Jonathan Summers is reasonable as the Count; Timothy German does a finely characterised drunk scene as Florestein; John del Carlo is Devilshoof - unsubtle name, good singer. There are some spoken passages by members of the Radio Telefis Eireann theatre company.
- Jonathan Woolf, musicweb-international.com