Marcia Schneiderman | Lansing, MI USA | 07/05/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you want tuneful "pleasant listening" here's your cup of tea. But a take-off on Melodrama should sound MELODRAMATIC. I would hope the sound engineering has not removed the menacing nuances of the overture, but the french horn player definitely does not snarl his part in the "ghost scene". And please, more orchestral sound in general.The ladies' chorus sounds quite lovely but do they convey a perky daffiness? No. Is Mad Margaret "mad" enough? No. And listening to Hannah's story of "The Witch's Curse" (the rest of the title) hardly conveys the content of what she is "saying" as she sings.Only if you'd seen a production or better yet, ah bliss, been in the pit orchestra would you know the musical mood swings in the Finale of Act I. The Madrigal was lovely but let's have more contrast in tempo and orchestral volume as events on stage shift quickly.The "ghost scene" should make the listener agree with the subtitle that declares this to be an "Entirely Original Supernatural Opera." (More attention by the conductor to the orchestra would have helped here.) The voice of the gentleman who sings "When the Nightwind Howls" should chill your marrow. It doesn't. Donald Adams did.The pick-up in tempo is long awaited in the patter trio and Hannah and Sir Robert's "there grew a little flower" duet is sweet. The "Melodrama" that is inserted between the two parts just mentioned, and "when a man has been a naughty Baronet" in the Finale, are additions not heard before, or so the CD booklet says. Interesting. This booklet also tells you of changes made after opening night. Well, maybe the "Ancestors" didn't get revived a second time in London, but I've seen "em dancing in the Finale. Hah! Hah!"
Paul A. Gerard | Australia | 12/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ruddigore in its original form was considered in rather poor taste (in Victorian London) although after a few cuts in act 2, and a discreet change of name, it went on to a very respectable first run. Gilbert is supposed to have said "We could do with a few more failures like this!". Theatre goers at the time quite enjoyed it when they got over the initial disappointment that it wasn't another "Mikado". The sequences where the ancestors descend from their frames have always been difficult to stage successfully, and by all accounts the original production did the switch very unconvincingly. And the whole idea of a spoof on melodrama is, of course, dated and rather corny - in fact even at the time it fell a bit flat.
None of this should have anything to do with purchasing the CD - because this is very simply Sullivan's most glorious score - in my view only Iolanthe and Yeomen come close. Possible weaknesses in the play (I must admit I have never had a chance to see it staged) are simply irrelevant - the music is so absolutely spine tinglingly GOOD.
In my view the performances are excellent - and the recording quality superb. Beats my old vinyl hands down (and this is far from true of all G&S CDs I have known).
The "spookiness" of the ghost scenes, that another reviewer here complains of, is perhaps a little under done - but then you have to remember it is after all supposed to be a spoof!! Too heavy a hand here can kill the humor stone dead. In fact one of the complaints against the very first production was just that - and apparently some "overly-serious" music was cut from these scenes in order to lighten them up a bit.
My only real disapointment is that the original overture (by Hamilton Clarke) is substituted for the later one by Geoffrey Toye. In theory it's good to get back to an opera's first form I suppose - the snag is that the Toye overture is a much better integrated piece of music. A shame Sullivan didn't write his own - but of course he usually didn't. Fortunately I have a recording of the Toye overture so I can listen to that first instead if I like."
erikmh | Cabot, VT USA | 05/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have not yet heard this recording yet. However, I thought it would be useful for potential purchasers to know the following:This record is the chosen recommended version of Ruddigore by both The Penquin Best Classical CD Guide and The Gramophone Good Classical CD Guide.It was also rated five stars (top rating) at the Gilbert and Sullivan Discography web site, with the comment "It is rare that one recording of an opera so towers over the others that there can be no dispute over its superiority.... In my view, this is the one Ruddigore recording to have.""
One of G&S' best! (but aren't they all?)
Pitti-Sing | Titipu, Japan | 03/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"According to the booklet, after Ruddigore's first, reletively unsuccesful performance, Sullivan made some musical changes to the score including "the replacement of an Act Two patter song ["For Thirty-Five Years," as heard on the CD] with another of the same genre ["Henceforth All The Crimes"]. It was probably during this period of post-premiere pruning, too, that the Ghost Scene lost a good deal of more solemn music and strophic second verses to a couple of other settings were cut." The potential customer should be aware of this so that he will not feel a little cheated (as I did) at being given the original, unadulterated version, as opposed to the usual one.
That aside, let me tell you how grand this CD is. It has a different feel to it than the D'Oyly Carte productions, but perhaps I'm just paranoid. The singers are VERY good. Rose is Rose is Rose is Rose - snobbish and cute, slim and trim and prim. Dame Hanna is WONDERFUL, and it would be a crime if she weren't. Her voice is creamy and smooth, a slightly humorous but mellow contralto, perfect for "There Grew A Little Flower." Anne Collins couldn't have done better (and that's high praise from me!). Robin & Richard are both fine, though Richard, peculiarly enough, puts on an American accent for "I shipp'd, d'ya see." Some reviewers have hinted that Mad Margaret was not mad enough; I defy this. She's plenty mad and her "To A Garden Full Of Posies" will have the listener in tears. Also, I wouldn't have minded piling on the creepiness of "When The Night Wind Howls" and I WOULD like to hear Donald Adams sing it, but this guy gets it pretty good.
If your G&S is limited to "Pinafore," "Mikado," and "Penzance," try this as a change. Then try "Yeomen" - a little less melodrama and more real feeling. Both are pearls too little worn."
Brett Farrell | Cape May, NJ USA | 10/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I cannot say that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing this opera prior to buying this CD, but I loved it. I find the only shame behind this opera is that it wasn't more popular. I found all of the singers to be superb and the entire CD to be highly enjoyable."