Harrogate Fallen Fairies (2014)


Ethais - Chris Cotter

Phyllon - Geoff Lee

Selene - Fiona Main

Darine - Gillian Robertson

Zayda - Susanne Horsburg

Locrine - Liz Landsman

Lutin - Ian Lawson

Chorus: Katharine Barbour, Maggie Cormack, Wendy Crawford, Lorraine McBain

Music Director (and presumed accompanist): David Lyle

Director and Producer: Alan Borthwick


At the 2014 Gilbert and Sullivan Festival at Harrogate (UK), Alan Borthwick and Friends presented an abridged version of the Gilbert-German opera. The libretto contains a number of lines for bit parts, and this production eliminated all the bit parts, and reassigned them to be spoken between only the fairies Darine, Zayda, and Locrine. The musical passages for these bit parts were similarly reassigned, thus keeping the story easy to follow and improving some rather thankless roles. The performance quality is rather high, and the video is of greater quality than any of the other recordings that feature Fallen Fairies.

Shortening the opera also means a few songs are missing, and some of the cuts are brutal. Both of Selene's songs, "Poor purblind wayward youths" and "O Love That Rulest in Our Land", are missing, as are two of Lutin's songs, "The warrior girt in shining might", and "When husband supposes". In addition, the overture and entr'acte are absent, as well as the playouts to some of the songs. So one may say it is far from complete. The dialogue has also been compressed, and several lines that should not raise a laugh sometimes do so.

The upshot of all this is that it is watchable and enjoyable to listen to. For the first time, we can get a reasonable picture of what the opera should look like and sound like. The costuming is smart, the staging creative, the set charming, and the singing is first-rate. Also, both of the songs for Ethais and Selene are included, and so is Lutin's act two song, "Suppose you take". Despite all the cuts, this is the best available recording of the opera, and will likely remain so until we get a complete performance on CD with orchestra. DVDs of this production may be purchased from the Harrogate Festival online store.