Notes & Reviews:
Dublin-born Victor Herbert (1859 - 1924) came to America in 1886. Although he went on to become a renowned composer, conductor, and recording artist, his greatest success came as a composer of music for the voice. He composed music for two operas, and over fifty operettas, musical comedies, revues, and plays. While his song output runs the gamut of styles classical and popular at the turn of the twentieth century, from parlor and concert song to anthem and popular song, his music for the stage reflected his European opera and light-opera background. His most well-known stage works, after The Fortune Teller (1898), include Babes in Toyland (1903), Mlle. Modiste (1905), The Red Mill (1906), The Rose of Algeria (1909), Naughty Marietta (1910), Sweethearts (1913), Princess Pat (1915), and Eileen (1917). For many, Eileen was considered Herbert's finest composition for the stage. Even Herbert was inclined to view this work as his best effort. It was the goal of this project to recreate the sound of the music played opening night on Broadway and to capture the music that was originally written for Hearts of Erin but discarded during tryouts. Thus, this is the first recording of all existing music that Victor Herbert composed for Hearts of Erin and Eileen. As Hearts of Erin became Eileen, four numbers were replaced with new material. For whatever reasons the changes were made, the replacement numbers are much better choices for both the characters and the situations. Herbert's score for Hearts of Erin was a strong one, but Herbert's score for Eileen is glorious: nostalgic, heroic, cinematic, humorous, and in character. It captures the romantic soul of Herbert and epitomizes the romantic American operetta in its transition from Victor Herbert to Jerome Kern.
Victor Herbert used to be possibly America's most popular composer. Bookended by Gilbert and Sullivan on the one hand, and the rise of the Broadway musical on the other, his posthumous reputation never really stood a chance. He's long past due for a reappraisal, a job complicated by the horrendous amount of sheer work required to restore his scores to their original form. This last respect is just one way in which this new release is exemplary. You get the full score, plus an appendix of additional numbers, plus the orchestral fantasy on tunes from the opera arranged by Herbert's assistant Harold Sanford. In other words, this is the complete Eileen, and then some. The performance is wonderful. As the two lovers, soprano Mary O'Sullivan and tenor Eamon Mulhall lead an exceptionally strong cast. Lynda Lee has an audibly great time as Lady Estabrooke, as does Joe Corbett as Sir Reginald, who gets the big comic number, "If Eve Had Left the Apple on the Bough".
It serves as an excellent framework for some delicious music, splendidly recorded. This is an important and, even better, irresistible release.
American Record Guide, March / April 2013
The songs in Eileen (1917) are mostly variations of Herbert's Irish songs. Some of them are well known and wonderful. The song 'Thine Alone' is very popular and is sung well here. An outstanding booklet describing the history and this reconstruction of Eileen accompanies the set. Has real Irish people in the cast, giving it a more authentic sound. If you accept this as Herbert's ode to Ireland, you will enjoy it very much. He considered this work his best effort.
Recording information: National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland (08/22/2011-08/24/2011).
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Works DetailsHerbert, Victor : Hearts of Erin (Eileen), operetta in 3 acts
- Conductor: David Brophy
- Ensemble: Orchestra of Ireland
- Notes: National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland (08/22/2011-08/24/2011)
- Running Time: 4 min. 9 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Opera/Operetta
- Written: 1917