I am the very model of a modern major general

By December 24, 2016 Blog, Opera

I realise that if I’m going to get the playlist finished by the end of the year, and if it’s going to be representative of opera through the ages, then I might need to start adding more than one track a day, so we have two British offerings on this fine Christmas Eve.

There has been a distinct lack of female composers on the play list, probably because there is a distinct lack of female composers. Dame Ethel Smyth fails to make it to the master list of influential opera composers, although apparently two of the jurors wanted to see her included. I don’t actually have any of her operas in my collection, but have found bits and pieces on the www. Her most famous one is called The Wreckers and can be found here.   It has been said that you can hear the influence of Wagner on her work – go to minute 8.24 for confirmation of this.

But it’s nearly Christmas and so we need something a bit more uplifting I feel. Wreckers, Cornwall, smugglers and …it has to be The Pirates of Penzance from the great operatic duo – Gilbert and Sullivan. Opera or operetta? All those happy endings and hummable tunes make it operetta, IMHO, but they are on the list of opera greats, so obviously those in the know know more than me.

But which track to choose? This is a tough one as I like all of the songs (except the sloppy bit in the middle from Mabel). The choruses bring back fond memories of my debut on the operatic stage … although as it was also my last appearance, I’m not sure that debut is the right word.   To get us in the singalong mood, I’ve plumped for the Modern Major General and this recording from the ENO. The G&S in my own collection is, of course, D’Oyly Carte.

While searching for a decent YT video, I came across a number of spoofs, and this one from Dirty Little Showtunes is my absolute favourite.