OP2004. THE GEISHA (Sidney Jones), recorded 1998, w.Corp Cond. New London Light Opera Ensemble; Lillian Watson, Christopher Maltman, Sarah Walker, Richard Suart, etc. (England) Helios 55245, w.19pp Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 034571152455
“Through the years, a whole series of stage plays, operas and Hollywood films have given us a somewhat clichéd view of Japan and its culture - the films include: SAYONARA and THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON to name buttwo. THE GEISHA was one of the earliest such models. It dates from 1896 and is very much in the mould of Gilbert and Sullivan's THE MIKADO. It was written by Sidney Jones a now very much forgotten composer whose musical style has long since been eclipsed; yet, in the period between the early 1890s and the First World War, his stage productions enjoyed considerable success. THE GEISHA - A STORY OF THE TEAHOUSE was his greatest success; it ran at Daly's Theatre, London for an unprecedented 760 performances and in its initial production it starred Marie Tempest as Mimosa and Letty Lind as Molly.
THE GEISHA, described as a Japanese musical play, is bright and breezy. Its musical style of Victorian/turn-of- the-century lyricism, would be swept into redundancy by the music of 1920s Broadway. From this period, only the music of Gilbert and Sullivan has survived with much success. Yet once attuned to its style, listeners will find much to amuse and beguile them.
The opening chorus, ‘Happy Japan’ is sunny and jolly and reminds one of the style of the Elgar part songs as well as of Gilbert and Sullivan. Clearly many of THE GEISHA's lyrics would be considered politically incorrect today such as those in the early patter song, ‘The dear little Jappy-Jap-Jappy’ but they are conveyed with such innocent and irresistible charm that such considerations can be dismissed. Both Lillian Watson as Mimosa and, particularly, Sarah Watson as Molly are excellent they enter into the spirit of the work with enthusiastic commitment and without any trace of condescension.
The ensemble pieces are very clever and amusing too. Take the concerted piece, ‘We're going to call on the Marquis’, when the company plan to have their revenge on the overbearing Police Chief It has all the hallmarks of the best of G&S and German. Ronald Corp can add this sparkling album to the growing number of first class light music albums he has recorded for Hyperion."
- Ian Lace, MusicWebInternational
“The well-written booklet essay elaborates on Jones’ career and times, but never ventures a word regarding the material, other than to explain that Jones’ hit followed on the success of THE MIKADO. The score couldn’t hope for a better performance; Ronald Corp leads the New London Orchestra and a fine cast of singers, including Christopher Maltman and Sarah Walker.
Basically this is a series of songs, mostly relentlessly upbeat, in the ‘toe-tapping’ mode, but with a weepy ballad or two thrown in. Most all the tunes start on the tonic and return there as often as possible.”
- Chris Mullins, Los Angeles Unified School District