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The Boatswain's Mate

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, 2016
£17.95
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Retrospect Opera
  • ASIN: B01HIJX83Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,600 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product description

Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), Britain's greatest female composer, wrote six operas. The Boatswain's Mate, composed in Egypt in 1913-14, and first performed in 1916, was far and away the most popular of them, and between the wars, was often performed. It is a wonderfully tuneful and funny work, the most successful of all the British operas of the period, using folk music to evoke English rural life. Smyth was a close friend of Emmeline Pankhurst. She had been strongly involved with the suffragette movement immediately before she composed The Boatswain's Mate, and it's generally considered her most feminist opera (the overture quotes 'The March of the Women', her famous suffragette song). Smyth wrote her own libretto, adapting a story and play by W. W. Jacobs. Somewhere in the English countryside we find the self-regarding ex-boatswain Harry Benn, determined to win the hand of the widowed landlady, Mrs Waters, at all costs. But is he wise to involve the younger, handsome Ned Travers in his scheming? And is the sturdily independent Mrs Waters ready to lay aside her shotgun and embrace romance? She is no stereotyped operatic heroine and generates comic twists and turns aplenty to the point where it is doubtful whether there has ever been a more hilarious British opera! Retrospect Opera has made the first complete recording of The Boatswain's Mate using Smyth's own 'reduced orchestration'. It's conducted by Odaline de la Martinez, the leading champion of Smyth's music, and features Nadine Benjamin as Mrs Waters, Edward Lee as Harry Benn, and Jeremy Huw Williams as Ned Travers. All the dialogue is included, and the sleeve booklet contains the full libretto, as well as essays by Odaline de la Martinez, Christopher Wiley and David Chandler setting the opera in its context. The CD includes two remasterings of historic recordings: Smyth conducting extracts from The Boatswain's Mate, from 1916, and also the overture to her previous opera, The Wreckers, made in 1930.


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6 August 2016
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