Monday 6 March 2017

Edmund, Agnes and a Fete Galante: Retrospect Opera's future plans

Edmund Loder
Edmund Loder
Retrospect Opera has garnered plaudits for its release of the first complete recording of Ethel Smyth's opera, The Boatswain's Mate, and the company is looking to keep up the good work. Future plans include Edward Loder's Raymond and Agnes, and Ethel Smyth's Fete Galante. But such plans are expensive, and the company is hoping that people will help support the company's work.

Edward Loder's Raymond and Agnes was premiered at the Theatre Royal, Manchester in 1855. The work is based on Lewis's Gothic novel The Monk, so expect a family curse, a sleepwalking scene and much more besides. Richard Bonynge will be conducting the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and a strong cast in a recording to be made in October 2017. Edward Loder (1809-1865) was born into a musical family and went to Frankfurt in 1826 to study with Ferdinand Ries. On his return to Britain in 1828, Loder pursued a successful career as an opera conductor. English operatic music from this period has a bad reputation, but when Raymond and Agnes was last revived, in Cambridge in 1966, the critic Nicholas Temperley concluded: "Loder’s musical and dramatic gifts were far more impressive than those of Balfe and Wallace. The music … maintains a high level of inspiration, variety, and continuity almost throughout. Loder reveals quite unexpected resources of harmony, while his orchestration is masterly; and he provides memorable tunes, both plain and ornate, when appropriate" (Musical Times, April 1966).

Ethel Smyth's Fete Galante was premiered in 1923, one of a group of smaller-scale theatrical works which Smyth wrote after World War One. Described as a 'dance dream', the piece uses old dance forms and there is even a madrigal setting. Retrospect Opera is planning the first complete recording of the score, to be conducted by Odaline de la Martinez. (see my interview with her, when we discuss the problems of trying to record rare Smyth works). The piece is based on a short story by Smyth's close friend, the writer Maurice Baring.

Visit Retrospect Opera's website for further information on their plans, and do visit their Donate page to help support their work.

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