Retrospect Opera

Great British Operas On Record

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Grasp the Nettle tells the story of Ethel Smyth, composer, writer and suffragette, in her own words and compositions, in a flowing fusion of drama and music. It’s performed by Lucy Stevens (contralto) and Elizabeth Marcus (piano) and has already been heard to great acclaim at the English Music Festival. The website for more details is here, and the forthcoming performance dates are below. This ties in very well with our recordings and releases of Dame Ethel's operas, and we do hope that some of you in the UK might manage to catch one of the performances.

Ely: Thursday 21 June 7.30pm King’s Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4DB  Tickets

London School of Economics: Wednesday 4 July 6.30pm LSE Shaw Library, Old Building, Houghton St (off Aldwych entrance) Holborn LSE Ticket Shop

Hitchin Festival: Saturday 7 July Woodside Hall, Hitchin

Cambridge: Monday 16 July Cambridge Federation of Women’s Institutes

The St Marylebone Festival: Thursday 26 July 7.30pm St Marylebone Church, 17 Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5LT  St Marylebone Festival Tickets

London: Wednesday 3 October 7.30pm Milton Court Concert Hall, Silk Street Barbican Box Office


Dorchester Arts: Friday 15 February Corn Exchange, High East Street, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1HF

Isle of Wight: Saturday 16 February Quay Arts, 15 Sea Street, Newport Harbour, Isle of Wight PO30 5BD

There’s also a conference at the University of Surrey, on Women’s Suffrage, later this month (29-30 June), in which Ethel Smyth features prominently. More details at That will be very interesting, and is open to all. Chris Wiley is part of the organising team, so you’d have a chance to meet him. The keynote speakers are:
• Irene Cockroft, author of Women in the Arts & Crafts and Suffrage Movements at the Dawn of the 20th Century
• Elizabeth Crawford, author of The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain and Ireland

In Canada, Tom Quick broadcasts a regular programme on women in classical music (performers as well as composers), and he will be including extracts from our re-release of The Wreckers in his programme on 8 July, as well as the Overture from our recording of The Boatswain’s Mate. Tom is a great supporter of Retrospect Opera. The programme is on from 10pm till midnight local time, on, and you can listen to it live. Tom has pre-recorded his show already and included several ‘plugs’ for Retrospect Opera.

The enterprising group Arcadian Opera are mounting a full production of The Wreckers on 27th and 28th October, at the Roxburgh Theatre, Stowe, Bucks, UK. Full details are here. The website says that ‘the theatre will be adapted to the requirements of this extraordinary opera’ which is very intriguing! Tickets will be on sale soon. This is great news: there was a very memorable production by Duchy Opera in Truro in 2006, and it will be wonderful to see another; not before time. One of the producers is Justin Lavender, who sang Mark in the 1994 recording of the Prom.

Do take a look at this interview, about Dame Ethel Smyth, broadcast through Pyrford TV ARTS, the Spring Edition. It’s between Tim Matthews and our own Chris Wiley. In the background, you’ll hear parts of the Overture to The Boatswain’s Mate, from Retrospect's recording. It’s really interesting, very well done, and lasts about eight and a quarter minutes. Thank you Chris, Tim, and Pyrford TV Arts! It’s also available through this Youtube link - our bit starts at about 9:04.

We’ve re-released the 1994 recording of Smyth’s The Wreckers, conducted by Odaline de la Martinez. We've retained the original artwork but re-packaged it, and also added an invaluable Foreword by Dr Christopher Wiley, which brings Smyth’s reception history up to date. Please click on the CD Sales tab, above. We sell worldwide and take a variety of payment methods!

We've teamed up with the distributor Discovery - we’re looking forward to developing the collaboration, which is enabling our CDs to be even more widely available.

We released Christmas Gambols and The Musical Tour of Mr Dibdin, by Charles Dibdin last November. Please click on the CD Sales tab above, for more details. 

Dibdin was an extremely important figure in the history of English comic opera, and of song, and we’re delighted with the response we’ve had to the CD. We’re recording  another CD of music by Dibdin later this year, called Dibdin’s Shakespeare.

We’re close to sending Loder’s glorious Gothic opera Raymond and Agnes off to press. We recorded this last October, with Richard Bonynge conducting the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Richard is extremely impressed with the opera and very happy with how the recording went.

Our soloists were amazing: Majella Cullagh (Agnes), Mark Milhofer (Raymond), Andrew Greenan (the Baron), Carolyn Dobbin (Madelina), Quentin Hayes (Antoni), Alessandro Fisher (Theodore), Alexander Robin Baker (Francesco), Timothy Langston (Landlord), Philip Wilcox (Roberto) and David Horton (Martini).

We have a strong team involved, but are always glad of further financial support! Please click on the Listening Rooms link above to hear extracts from the 2015 concert in Bath, with the Bath Philharmonia. The 2-CD set will include all the dialogue, and the booklet will include the libretto.

And do click on the link in the left hand panel for more details.

Don’t forget - we sell worldwide! 

We’re fundraising for another of Ethel Smyth’s operas, Fête Galante. The left hand panel is the place to click on to find out more!

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for the latest Retrospect News.

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