Composed in 1916, Eileen remains highly esteemed by connoisseurs of operetta, and for good reason: It’s a delightful work. Victor Herbert used to be possibly America’s most popular composer. Bookended by Gilbert and Sullivan on the one hand, and the rise of the Broadway musical on the other, his posthumous reputation never really stood a chance. He’s long past due for a reappraisal, a job complicated by the horrendous amount of sheer work required to restore his scores to their original form. This last respect is just one way in which this new release is exemplary. You get the full score, plus an appendix of additional numbers, plus the orchestral fantasy on tunes from the opera arranged byRead more Herbert’s assistant Harold Sanford. In other words, this is the complete Eileen, and then some.
The performance is wonderful. As the two lovers, soprano Mary O’Sullivan and tenor Eamon Mulhall lead an exceptionally strong cast. Lynda Lee has an audibly great time as Lady Estabrooke, as does Joe Corbett as Sir Reginald, who gets the big comic number, “If Eve Had Left the Apple on the Bough”. David Brouphy conducts the Orchestra of Ireland in a genuinely vital, colorful reading of this luscious score. Herbert’s aesthetic runs closer to the sentimental Viennese style of Léhar than to the British school of Sullivan, and his scoring reflects that: plentiful harp, colorful percussion, and even a bass clarinet. An Irishman himself, he peppers the score with lightly folk-ish melody in spots, but never to the point of caricature.
Oh yes, and then there’s the plot. Basically, it concerns the love of an Irish rebel (Barry O’Day) for Eileen, niece of Lady Eastabrooke, who holds lands once belonging to the O’Day family. The love interest is set against the backdrop of one of the several late-18th-century Irish rebellions against the British. The bad guy is tax collector Humpy Grogan (the admirably nasty Karl Harpur in an acting role), and there are the occupying forces out to capture Barry and his fellow rebels, who are busy working as smugglers supported by sympathetic villagers. The usual complications and cases of mistaken identity ensue, arriving at a happy ending.
Look, no one listens to this stuff for the thrilling plot; it serves as an excellent framework for some delicious music, splendidly recorded. This is an important and, even better, irresistible release.
Eileenby Victor Herbert Performer:
Karl Harpur (Voice),
Dean Power (Tenor),
Andrew Ashwin (Bass),
Philip O'Reilly (Baritone),
Mary O'Sullivan (Soprano),
Eamonn Mulhall (Tenor),
Lynda Lee (Mezzo Soprano),
Rachel Kelly (Mezzo Soprano),
Joe Corbett (Baritone)
Orchestra Of Ireland
Period: Romantic Written: 1917; USA
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A Definitive EileenNovember 17, 2012By Keith R. (Brighton, CO)See All My Reviews"Eileen has one of Victor Herbert's finest operetta scores, but until the past 15 years or so it has been known only by one number: "Thine Alone." Overshadowed by other Herbert scores such as Naughty Marietta and The Red Mill, Eileen has been left to gather dust. Part of its obscurity was probably due to its plot, involving Irish patriots--which had immediate relevance to Herbert's Irish-American compatriots when the operetta was premiered in 1917, just a year after the tragic Easter Uprising. But 20th centrury history left that event, anfd Herbert's operetta, behind. In the 1990s, the Ohio Light Opera company released a live performance of Eileen, but that suffered from an inaccurate score and inferior performances by some of the principals. Fortunately, New World has now taken the show in hand and released a fine performance of the restored score--at least as far as that can be retrieved. The Irish performers deliver as authentic a version as we are likely to get. True to the score's demands, the voices are operatic, and the dialogue has the tension and true Irishness the book requires. This New World version of Eileen completely supersedes the Ohio Light Opera version and presents a glowing operetta with authenticity and panache. Don't hesitate to buy it, especially if you currently have the earlier OLO version--you will gladly send that one to Good Will or your local used CD shop."Report Abuse