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Bennett: The Mines Of Sulphur / Robertson, Irmiter, Et Al


Release Date: 07/26/2005 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5036   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Rodney Bennett
Performer:  Beth ClaytonDorothy BryneBrandon JovanovichJames Maddalena,   ... 
Conductor:  Stewart Robertson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 47 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s Gothic opera The Mines of Sulphur is reminiscent of suspense thrillers from Edgar Allan Poe to Alfred Hitchcock. Love, longing, and dark as well as light comedy abound in this macabre tale of greed and retribution set in a haunted manor house in the West of England. The title of the tale, taken from Shakespeare’s Othello, refers to the theme of gradual corruption. The production from which this recording was taken was a smash hit at Glimmerglass Opera last summer (2004).

This is the work’s premiere recording.

The Mines of Sulphur will be performed by New York City Opera in autumn 2005,
Read more on the 40th anniversary of its first staging.

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett is one of Britain’s most prolific composers, whose best-known works include the film scores for Four Weddings and a Funeral and Murder on the Orient Express. The gypsy Rosalind has tried to escape from the abusive landowner, Braxton, but is driven back to the isolated house by the winter weather. Her companions – Boconnion, an army deserter, and the tramp Tovey – stealthily enter the house intent on stealing Braxton’s jewels and other valuable possessions. Boconnion murders Braxton and while the three try on their newly acquired finery, there is the sound of a distant horn followed by a knock on the door. Sherrin, the leader of a troupe of travelling actors, enters seeking shelter for the group. Boconnion agrees to this request in exchange for the performance of a play. Sherrin chooses The Mines of Sulphur, a comedy about a wealthy antiquarian who selects a young wife as ‘the loveliest thing in [his] collection’. In the play, the young Haidee and the valet, Hugo, have an illicit affair, and upon discovery are about to kill the older husband. At this point the similarities between the play and reality are too much for Rosalind and Tovey and they stop the performance. One of the actors indicates that he knows Boconnion’s real identity and what has happened in the house. Bocconion draws a bayonet and moves threateningly towards the actors, intending to imprison them in the house and burn it down, in order to destroy all evidence of his crime. However, the actors escape leaving behind Jenny. Boconnion taunts Rosalind by kissing Jenny, who then explains that she has the plague. Rosalind, Boconnion and Tovey are left with the realisation that in fact they are the ones for whom there is no escape, and they pray in vain for mercy.

Libretto included.

R E V I E W S

"Though just 28 when he composed this work, Sir Richard showed a sure grasp of dramatic pacing and an intuitive feeling for character. He confidently adapted the 12-tone idiom to his distinctive musical and dramatic aims, reining in a wayward Bergian language with ravishing moments of tonal mooring. The vocal writing shifts naturally between sputtered outbursts and ruminative lyricism.
The excellent cast is headed by Brandon Jovanovich (Boconnion), Kristopher Irmiter (Braxton), Beth Clayton (Rosalind) and James Maddalena (Tovey). Mr. Robertson conducts a vividly colored and inexorable performance."
- Anthony Tommasini, NEW YORK TIMES

"The atmosphere is threatening and dark, and the score effectively conveys that sense of oppression, just leavening its essentially serial language (Bennett had studied with Boulez in Paris in the 1950s) with material much closer to Britten and Henze. That makes the vocal lines smoothly singable, while the orchestral writing has the vividness and sleek assurance so familiar from Bennett's later music; it is a well-made opera with a clear dramatic shape...Certainly, The Mines doesn't deserve the neglect it has suffered for more than a quarter of a century: this performance shows it can work on stage, and pack a real dramatic punch." - Guardian Unlimited
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Works on This Recording

1. The Mines of Sulphur by Richard Rodney Bennett
Performer:  Beth Clayton (Mezzo Soprano), Dorothy Bryne (Mezzo Soprano), Brandon Jovanovich (Tenor),
James Maddalena (Baritone), Kristopher Irmiter (Bass Baritone), Brian Anderson (Tenor),
Michael Todd Simpson (Baritone), Caroline Worra (Soprano), Andrew Gorell (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Stewart Robertson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 08/2004 
Venue:  Live  Alice Busch Opera Theater, Cooperstown, 

Sound Samples

The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: Introduction
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: Slut! You slut! (Braxton, Rosalind)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: Easy and quietly (Boconnion, Tovey, Rosalind, Braxton)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: The key! (Boconnion, Tovey, Rosalind)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: You see! What did I tell you? (Rosalind, Boconnion, Tovey)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: Old goat! (Boconnion, Rosalind)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: The cup it is white and the ale it is brown... (Tovey, Boconnion)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: Am I beautiful? (Rosalind, Boconnion, Tovey)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: A horn! (Boconnion, Rosalind, Tovey, Sherrin)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: Good evening, sir (Sherrin, Boconnion, Rosalind, Tovey, Leda, Fenney, Tooley)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: I once played Romeo, in Chester (Fenney, Sherrin, Tooley, Leda)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act I: It looks very well on you (Jenny, Rosalind)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Overture
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Good morning, your Excellency! (Tooley)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Recitative: Item: A fountain in the Palladian style (Sherrin / The Count)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Duet: Good morning, your Excellency (Fenny / Hugo, Sherrin / the Count)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Duet: This morning I was passing the square (Fenny / Hugo, Sherrin / the Count) - Aria: O when will I a lover know (Jenny / Haidee)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Well? (Fenny / Hugo, Sherrin / the Count, Leda / Mrs Traxel)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Haidee! (Leda / Mrs Traxel) - Interlude
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Your eyes are shining, Rosalind (Boconnion, Rosalind, Tovey)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Entr'acte
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Nocturne I
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Good morning, my doves (Leda / Mrs Traxel, Jenny / Haidee, Fenny / Hugo)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Hugo! (Jenny / Haidee, Fenny / Hugo)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Nocturne II
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: I said to the cook: who does he think he is? (Tooley, Sherrin / the Count)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Nocturne III - In the moonlight they are beautiful (Sherrin / The Count)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Get up! and quickly, do you hear me (Sherrin / The Count, Jenny / Haidee, Fenny / Hugo)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Stop! Make them stop! (Tovey, Boconnion, Rosalind, Sherrin, Leda)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: We must get away from here (Rosalind, Boconnion)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: I am very sorry, Colonel Boconnion (Sherrin, Rosalind, Boconnion, Leda, Tooley)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: Well now, Colonel (Tooley, Boconnion, Leda)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act II: You would do better to save your new coat (Tooley, Boconnion)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: Back! Back against the wall where I can watch you (Boconnion, Sherrin, Tooley, Leda, Rosalind)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: This house is made of wood (Boconnion) - What will you gain by killing us (Sherrin, Tooley, Boconnion)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: All correct, Colonel (Tovey, Boconnion, Rosalind) - I want to leave this house (Rosalind) - We must wait till morning (Boconnion, Leda, Fenney)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: Ah! The poor little mute (Boconnion) - Entr'acte - This mute! (Boconnion)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: I lived as a boy in a village by the sea (Boconnion)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: Tovey! Bring down the girl (Boconnion, Tovey, Leda) - I want to leave this house (Rosalind, Jenny, Boconnion)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: Tovey! Into the cellar with them (Boconnion, Rosalind) - All correct, Colonel (Tovey)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: What was your question, in the play? (Boconnion, Jenny, Rosalind)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: Once, once long ago some actors came riding (Jenny)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: The horn! Their horn! (Tovey, Boconnion, Rosalind, Jenny)
The Mines of Sulphur: Act III: Then look! Soldier, look! (Jenny, Tovey, Rosalind, Boconnion)

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