Notes & Reviews:
George Macfarren was considered by many of his contemporaries as the greatest British dramatic opera composer since Purcell. Described by Edward J Dent as 'very full of good fun and on the way to Sullivan', Robin Hood is Macfarren's masterpiece, one of an impressive roster of now neglected mid-nineteenthcentury British operas, notable for its fine ensemble scenes, witty motifs, and deft, imaginative orchestration. Victorian Opera's recording of Wallace's Lurline (8660293-94) was widely admired: 'the opera and the performance are both a delight.' (American Record Guide)
"Though intensely conservative [Macfarren] was nevertheless more than a mere pedant. His music recalls Mendlessohn and Weber, but with a four-square Englishness very like his younger contemporary Arthur Sullivan...[Robin's] swashbuckling is mostly vocal; Nicky Spence carries it off with cheerful style, if not quite enough heft...Under Ronald Corp, the orchestra reveals a bright, attractive piece." -BBC Music Magazine
"Nicky Spence is splendid as Robin Hood: vigorous in the ballad 'Englishmen by birth', he is eloquent in the beautiful 'My own, my guiding star', his manner recalling Richard Lewis...Ronald Corp clearly loves this music; and if there's a touch of am-dram about the chorus, well, it's all part of the fun." -Gramophone
"Hulbert is a firm-voiced Sheriff of Nottingham, covering the vocal range successfully as a character less wicked than the one usually seen in films or in television productions of the story...This is a case of the whole being better than the parts, with that greatly owing to Macfarren's music...I am glad that I have heard it." -International Record Review
"Macfarren’s Romantic English opera Robin Hood has waited 150 years for a first recording, and though Ronald Corp’s Victorian Opera forces sometimes sound stretched, they capture its genial Merrie England swashbuckle...Connoisseurs of ripe Victoriana will adore it." -The Times
American Record Guide
Music certainly worth hearing for the sheer enjoyment they give to the listeners... one jolly tune after another delights the ear. It is an opera full of charming music... a delightful way to pass an hour or two.
all is well. Nicky Spence is splendid as Robin Hood: vigorous in the ballad 'Englishmen by birth', he is eloquent in the beautiful 'My own, my guiding star'...
This is a CD that all opera fans ought to have. Some people will ignore it simply because it was written by an Englishman during Queen Victoria's reign. They would be utterly misguided to do so. This is a great work; possibly the composer's masterpiece and is a light opera (not operetta) that can hold its best up against anything offered by the Italians and the French and the Germans from the same period.
Thanks to the remarkable enterprise of Victorian Opera, here's another invaluable and hugely enjoyable offering in the neglected field of Victorian Romantic opera, Macfarren's Robin Hood - a work easy on the ear and breathing fresh British air, with Nicky Spence leading full-scale forces under Ronald Corp.
All praises to Ronald Corp's choir and orchestra for their verve and enthusiasm. The Overture promises well; it's atmospheric, exciting and romantic with its horn-calls and woodland imagery. The Act II Entr'acte sporting a brass chorale is equally pleasing. The choral writing, for the most part, impresses: the Act II Part Song 'The wood, the wood' and 'A good fat deer' that immediately follows, both for Robin's men, are lusty, evocative and witty. Just as striking is the Act III, Scene II choral part-song, 'Now the sun has mounted' which anticipates Sullivan and especially his 'The Long Day Closes' published in 1868, some eight years after Robin Hood.
David's CD of the Week is a wonderful recording of George Alexander Macfarren's finest opera, Robin Hood.
Recording information: Urmston Grammer School, Manchester, England (03/06/2010-03/07/2010).
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Works DetailsMcFarren, George A. : Robin Hood, opera
- Conductor: Ronald Corp
- Notes: Urmston Grammer School, Manchester, England (03/06/2010-03/07/2010)
- Running Time: 5 min. 36 sec.
- Period Time: Romantic
- Form: Opera/Operetta