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THE CONTRABANDISTA

or, The Law of the Ladrones

 

 

ST DAVID’S PLAYERS RESOURCE CENTRE

 

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ST DAVID’S PLAYERS

Gilbert and Sullivan Society · Exeter · Devon

Written by F C Burnand

Composed by Arthur Sullivan

A Comic Opera in Two Acts

First produced at the St George’s Hall, London on 18th December 1867

  • REPORTED PRODUCTIONS

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    1972  —  Comic Opera Guild

    1972  —  Fulham Light Opera

    1990  —  University of London Opera Group Concert production

    2012  —  Glitter & Twisted Theatre Company (Cheltenham Playhouse)

    2012  —  Glitter & Twisted Theatre Company (Buxton)

    2013  —  Los Ladrones, UK

    2014  —  Los Ladrones, UK

  • RECORD REVIEWS

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    Reviews currently included here have been posted by contributor, Ian Bond, and are his personal views, and these may not necessarily represent the views of St David’s Players

    There have only ever been two commercially recorded performances of this, Sullivan’s first two act comic opera.

    This recording was made by Pavillion Records in 1986 but never released as the engineers were unhappy with the results at that time. However, members of the Prince Consort felt that the recording should be heard and approached Chris Webster at Sounds on CD who released the recording coupled with the 1894 reworking of the opera, The Chieftain.

     The recorded sound is very good as one would expect from this label. However, the performance does leave something to be desired. It is a typical Prince Consort production in that it is poorly paced at times, although the casting is better in this work than in some of their other recordings with Richard Bourjo, usually badly miscast in the ‘patter’ roles, occupying the bass part of Jose. Norma Kinnear is not really strong enough for the part of Inez, but she does the best she can.

     David Craig is delightful as Mr Grigg sounding really in character as the ‘little man’ who gets in way out of his depth. The one quibble I have is that the intro to his first number ‘From Rock to Rock’ (the most famous number in the show) has been cut, both here and in The Chieftain.

     The two operas are presented on 2 CD’s - VGS 204. Sounds on CD products can be obtained from Christopher Browne in the UK and from 78s2cd in the States, see the links page.

      Hear part of the Act One Finale

     The two operas are presented on 2 CD’s - VGS 204. Sounds on CD products can be obtained from Christopher Browne in the UK and from 78s2cd in the States

    The record company Hyperion have been very active in recent years recording Sullivan’s lesser-known works. Firstly it was The Golden Legend, then The Prodigal Son and Boer War Te Deum. Late in 2004 Chandos jumped on the band wagon and recorded Trial By Jury and Cox And Box and this was issued in the spring of 2005 and then a recording of Ivanhoe was made in 2009.

    Not too much of a surprise then that they should record The Contrabandista. It has to be stated that it is a pity that as much care has not been taken over this recording as was taken over the previous two - Certainly with my copy there is an annoying skip in the first two tracks which reappears at about track 9 - however this only occurs on one of my CD players so I guess the disc is just a little sensitive. The other gripe is that the principals are placed very forward in the Finale Act 1 making Donald Maxwell (Jose) over-prominent in the choral sections.

    All this aside it has to be said that this is a magnificent recording and one which hopefully will persuade amateur companies to include the work in their repertoires. The disc filler, The Foresters, is a revelatory bonus.

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      The Vocal Score of The Contrabandista as published by
    Boosey in 1871