"A PRINCESS OF KENSINGTON" — THE 1933 B.B.C.
Brian Rees, "A Musical Peacemaker; The Life and Work of Sir Edward German" [The Kensal Press; Buckinghamshire: 1986]; pgs. 263 - 264:
"Early in 1933, 18th February, A Princess of Kensington was performed under Joseph Lewis in an old converted wine warehouse down by the side of Waterloo Bridge. When the BBC moved to Broadcasting House, this gloomy setting had survived as a concert hall and a possible venue for experiments to turn opera into ordinary radio fare. It was reached by a long flight of steps from the Surrey side of the bridge and a grimy land arch. 'Great lorries rumbled over the pavements, street children are playing outside mean houses,' said the Radio Times. 'A light sign BBC No. 10 Studio stands out in striking modernity against its dirty background.' Inside, many experiments were made for the broadcast with the placing of the forty instrumentalists occupying two sides of a right-angled triangle with the microphone at its apex. The first violins were placed in front for better definition and then, after the rest of the strings, the woodwind with the brass and percussion spilling over the originally marked area... Merrie England and Tom Jones had already been given radio performances singly, but A Princess of Kensington was intended to be the first of a series which would present condensed versions of light operas by Dibdin, Cellier, Offenbach and others. The plot which had required twenty-two characters in 1903 now only needed seven. Two narrators, both of them microphone artists rather than singers, played the parts of Puck and Mustard Seed linking the musical numbers together. On the whole, the effect went some way towards meeting the suggestion made many years earlier by [German's sister] Rachel that the whole work would benefit from a prologue preparing the plot. The new version was given subsequently on a number of occasions."
The London newspaper The Times listed the following programme details in the edition published on Saturday, February 18th, 1933; page 3 : -
BROADCASTING — Programmes for the Weekend...
LONDON REGIONAL (843 kc.) (356m.)
9 [PM]:— Comic Opera programme: scenes from A Princess of Kensington; music by Edward German; lyrics by Basil Hood; produced by Gordon McConnel, with Bobbie Comber, Noel Eadie, Arthur Cox, Marjorie Parry, Kenneth Ellis, Appleton Moore, Valentine Dunn, the Wireless Chorus (section C), chorus master, Cyril Dalmaine; the B.B.C. Orchestra (section C) (led by Marie Wilson), conducted by Joseph Lewis.
[Interestingly, amongst the broadcasting highlights listed on the same day, The Times noted that: - "The foreign programmes this evening include a performance of "The Mikado" from Munich at 7 o'clock...." No other details about the broadcast were given. Munich radio transmitted on 535.7 metres at 4kw.]
Contributed by Robert Morrison
Other recordings of A Princess of Kensington