Chandos CHAN 10794
Sullivan: The Beauty Stone – Elin Manahan Thomas, Toby Spence, Rebecca Evans, Alan Opie, Stephen Gadd, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Madeleine Shaw, David Stout, Richard Suart, BBC National Chorus of Wales, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rory Macdonald
Sir Arthur Sullivan is best known for his famous collaboration with W.S. Gilbert, a supreme partnership the fruits of which have tended to overshadow Sullivan’s other musical endeavours. The Beauty Stone falls into this latter category. A serious operatic work of epic duration, composed when Sullivan was at the height of his career, it was a surprising flop at its premiere in 1898, though it did have a run of fifty performances. The audience was expecting something more in the mould of the composer’s fleet and nimble comic operas, and was unprepared for a work of such size and seriousness. Sullivan and his librettists quickly made substantial cuts to the dialogue and the score, in the process removing some of the work’s most delightful music, but in this new recording all the omitted music has been restored. The strength of the opera is undoubtedly its many fine melodies, superb orchestration, and excellent characterisation, as well as a vivid atmosphere suitably suggestive of the romantically inflected mediaeval setting of the plot. This, the premiere commercial recording of the work, is cast with some of the finest singers on the British stage today and conducted by Rory Macdonald, one of Britain’s most talented, dynamic young conductors. This release follows the highly regarded recording of Sullivan’s Ivanhoe.