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Gilbert & Sullivan: Ruddigore / Borowitz, Ohio Light Opera

Release Date: 12/08/2009 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1164   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John ThorneJohn HutchinsonCharles QuarlesJames Nares,   ... 
Performer:  Cory ClinesDennis JesseFrederick ReederTed Christopher,   ... 
Conductor:  Michael Borowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ohio Light Opera
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SULLIVAN Ruddigore Michael Borowitz, cond; Ted Christopher ( Robin ); Cecily Ellis ( Rose ); Frederick Reeder ( Despard ); Anthony Buck ( Richard ); Dennis Jesse ( Roderic ); Sahara Glasener-Boles ( Margaret ); Jessie Wright Martin ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Hannah ); Cory Clines ( Adam ); Ohio Light Opera O & Ch ALBANY TROY 1164/65 (2 CDs: 130:06 ) Live: Wooster 12/2009

Poor Ruddigore had the misfortune to follow the extraordinarily successful The Mikado . First-night reception was cool, but after some tinkering Ruddigore achieved a successful run of 288 performances. Gilbert quipped that he wouldn’t mind having more such failures. Ruddigore is often regarded as second-tier G&S. If the book isn’t the equal of most of the others, the music and lyrics are. The patter trio “My Eyes Are Fully Opened” and Roderic’s song “When the Night Wind Howls” are perennial G&S favorites. The act I madrigal is one of Sullivan’s best, the act II duet “I Once Was a Very Abandoned Person” with the blameless dances is a comic gem.

After the initial run in 1887, Ruddigore was not revived by the D’Oyly Carte until the 1921–22 season after road-testing the opera on tour to assess its acceptance. Further cuts were made, mostly in the second act, and a new overture was written. Ruddigore was enthusiastically received, and remained in the D’Oyly Carte repertoire until its demise in 1982. Some of the cuts were restored when Royston Nash took over from Isidor Godfrey, although a Nash-led Ruddigore was never recorded.

D’Oyly Carte recordings (1924, 1931, 1950, 1962) vary in the material they include, but none are complete. Neither is the Sargent/EMI from 1963. Closer to the mark is a 1987 recording (the first DDD) with the Sadler’s Wells Opera billed as the “first complete recording of the original version.” Sadler’s Wells uses the Hamilton Clarke overture (which was included as a bonus in the 1962 Decca/D’Oyly Carte recording, located between the acts), and several of the verses deleted by the D’Oyly Carte and Sargent recordings are restored. At long last Robin’s act II recitative “Away Remorse,” followed by a song that begins with “For 35 years I’ve been sober and wary,” is recorded. Sadler’s Wells also included the ghostly march and some verses for Roderic and men’s chorus that precede “When the Night Wind Howls.” They recorded the melodrama, although without the dialogue that accompanies it, and the first four verses of the act II finale.

Now we have, thanks to the Ohio Light Opera, the “complete music and dialogue.” The most significant difference between this recording and its predecessors is the inclusion of the spoken parts. It’s all there, except for two lines between Robin and Rose, whose omission I suspect was an unintentional memory lapse rather than a deliberate cut. The OLO has restored all the musical cuts made by D’Oyly Carte and Sargent. The melodrama has now been recorded with the dialogue, and the second patter song G&S wrote for Robin in act II 11 days after the opera’s premiere is used. It opens with the same recitative “Away Remorse,” but the three-verse song begins with “Henceforth all the crimes that I find in the times.” Both of these songs for Robin break the mood of the scene, located as they are between “When the Night Wind Howls” and “I Once Was a Very Abandoned Person,” but it’s always nice to be treated to a G&S song.

The folks who gather at the College of Wooster in Ohio each summer are a mixture of students and professionals, assembled to present a festival of operetta, both familiar fare and rarities. Their recordings—especially of lesser-known works—are valuable additions to recorded libraries. Over the years the festival’s reputation has drawn some very talented people to the stage. Casting seems to be based not only on singing, but acting as well. The musical portions of this Ruddigore are very competently handled by people who not only sing well, but understand that the lyrics are integral to the story and need to be sung with dramatic as well as musical expression.

As the inclusion of the dialogue is likely to be the factor of most interest to Savoyards, I’m happy to report that the spoken parts are deftly handled and, except for an occasional lapse in pacing or a line or two fragmented into too many phrases, it’s a welcome treat to hear a complete Ruddigore . Several of the musical numbers make more sense when placed in the context of the plot, and some benefit by being isolated from other songs. With this recording we now have the whole G&S canon recorded with dialogue.

Some of the singers rival those singing the same roles in the Decca/EMI/Jay recordings. Even among the music-only recordings there is variability, and listeners have clear preferences and are not necessarily in agreement with each other. I liked this OLO Ruddigore and was not bothered by some less-than-perfect components. Throughout the cast I found the acting was in character. Cecily Ellis as Rose, with her wide-eyed avarice, and Anthony Buck as Richard, tossing off his lines with hokey nautical-speak (everything but “aaaarg”), were among my favorites, but I enjoyed everyone in the cast.

If you want only one Ruddigore , I would recommend either this OLO with dialogue or the Sadler’s Wells (music only) as first choices because of their musical completeness. If you dearly love G&S, add the 1962 D’Oyly Carte and the 1963 Sargent/EMI to the list. There is a video that is part of the Walker TV series. It is marred by way too many cuts, too much business that attempts to be clever but often isn’t, and Vincent Price, who should have stayed in Hollywood.

FANFARE: David L. Kirk
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Works on This Recording

Ruddigore by Arthur Sullivan
Performer:  Cory Clines (Voice), Dennis Jesse (Baritone), Frederick Reeder (Baritone),
Ted Christopher (Baritone), Cecily Ellis (Voice), Anthony Buck (Baritone),
Sahara Glasener-Boles (Alto)
Conductor:  Michael Borowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ohio Light Opera
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; England 

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