Our vision is very simple
To allow people to hear great British operas that they may only have read about, by recording them, to the highest standards possible.
How we do it…
We research the history of opera and related works in Britain’s richly varied musical theatre tradition.
We make studio recordings with professional musicians, following original scores and texts as much as possible, and taking into account what we know of the composer’s intentions.
We release our acclaimed recordings on CD and in streaming formats, accompanied by full texts and informative essays.
Our Team of Trustees
Andy H. King
These are not just high standards of performance, but also high standards of preparation of the performing materials.
We obtain copies of the original materials, usually a manuscript score, and typeset it, straightening out inconsistencies and mistakes in the original, and sorting out anything that isn’t clear, and if a decision has had to be made, marking it in the score, so that the performers know exactly what the composer wrote, and what’s had to be adjusted.
The consequence is that you, the audience, can trust that what you hear is what the composer really intended.
Record and Release
We make professional studio recordings with first-class singers and musicians. These are released on CD, and are also available as downloads and on streaming services. The CDs are accompanied by informative booklets that contain introductory essays on the works and their background, as well as a full text of what was recorded. Our recordings have been widely reviewed and several of them have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Valerie Langfield is a freelance musician, composer, teacher and author, based in south Manchester, UK. She has substantial experience of editing British operas for performance and recording: for Opera Ireland, and the Eduard von Winterstein Theatre in Annaberg-Buchholz, Balfe’s Falstaff; for Opera South, the Royal Dublin Society, and the Victorian Lyric Opera Company (Maryland), Balfe’s Bohemian Girl; for the European Opera Centre, arias from Wallace’s Amber Witch; for Victorian Opera North-west, The Maid of Artois (Balfe), Robin Hood (Macfarren), and a collection of Victorian opera overtures; for Lucerne Opera and Retrospect Opera, Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate; and arias for several other companies. She edited the manuscripts of Smyth’s Fête Galante, Loder’s Raymond and Agnes, and Stanford’s Shamus O’Brien for Retrospect Opera. She is a Trustee of the Carl Rosa Archive Trust and a member of the Editorial Committee of Musica Britannica.
She is a noted authority on the life and music of the English song-composer Roger Quilter, and is a contributor to the New Grove Dictionary, MGG, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and the Cambridge Berlioz Encyclopedia.
Valerie edited Dora Bright’s Piano Concerto and Variations for Piano and Orchestra, and Ruth Gipps’ Piano Concerto in G minor, all released on the SOMM label in 2019, and contributed a chapter on the songs of Cyril Scott for the Companion to Scott’s life and music, published by the Boydell Press. She is at present editing the diaries of the Cambridge musicologist Edward Dent, and a collection of letters from Dent to Jack Gordon, staff producer at Sadler’s Wells in the 1930s.
She is also active as an accompanist and orchestral pianist.
David Chandler is a professor of English at Doshisha University in Kyoto. His background is in English Romanticism (M. Phil and D. Phil, Oxon), but he has wide-ranging research interests in English and Italian opera. He has edited books on the Italian composers Alfredo Catalani and Italo Montemezzi and published many articles and reviews on British musical theatre, including pioneering accounts of Edward Cympson (1838-1905), Alan Doggett (1936-78) and nineteenth-century musical adaptations of Charles Dickens’s novels. David now spends much of his time writing about Retrospect Opera’s releases, and has essays forthcoming on Cups and Saucers, The Boatswain’s Mate, and Charles Dibdin.
Both Valerie Langfield and David Chandler are contributors to the volume of essays on Musicians of Bath and Beyond: Edward Loder and his Family, edited by Professor Nicholas Temperley, and published by Boydell and Brewer.
Andy H. King is a freelance arts administrator, researcher, writer, and music copyist. He is currently Music Advisor to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, and an Assistant Artist Manager at Robert Gilder & Co.
Following studies at Chetham’s School of Music, Andy read Music at the University of Huddersfield and the University of Birmingham, where he completed his PhD, ‘Sir Granville Bantock (1868–1946): Aspects of His life and Songs’. He has since worked for BBC Radio 3 (Assistant Producer), the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Chorus Manager), Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd (Promotion Assistant), the BBC Philharmonic (Assistant Orchestral Librarian), and Oldham Coliseum Theatre (Interim Marketing Officer).
As well as being a co-founder and trustee of Retrospect Opera, Andy is a trustee of the Sir George Dyson Trust, and a volunteer mentor for the Albert Kennedy Trust – a nationwide charity that supports LGBTQ+ homeless youth.
Christopher Wiley is a senior lecturer in Music at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK. His research interests encompass classical music, musical theatre, popular music, film and television music, and music and gender. He is an acknowledged expert on Ethel Smyth, with outputs including a major journal article for The Musical Quarterly on Smyth and opera. Other journals in which he has published include Music& Letters and Comparative Criticism, and he has written book chapters on subjects as diverse as Haydn, Michael Jackson, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Chris’s PhD dissertation (University of London, 2008) critically examines musical biography through comparative studies of texts on several Great Composers, with a focus on those published in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain. He is currently preparing a monograph on the earliest volumes of the ‘Master Musicians’ series (1899–1906). He has worked as a pre-event speaker for Glyndebourne Opera, and he has published many reviews of performances of musical theatre and opera for Musical Theatre Review.
Benjamin Hamilton is a conductor, translator, Artistic Director of Warwickshire Choristers, and sits on the Board of Warwickshire Music Education Hub as well as Retrospect Opera.
A strategic arts leader with a PhD from the University of Warwick, Benjamin’s artistic aim is to bring high-quality musical experiences to all, as audience members and performers, with an emphasis on sharing classical music with communities that might not otherwise engage with it.
As a conductor, Benjamin trained with Paul McGrath, Toby Purser, and is currently mentored by Mark Heron. A special relationship with opera in particular has seen him conduct 22 productions in repertoire spanning from Monteverdi to the present day. Benjamin is a regular guest conductor of various ensembles (including the EU Chamber Orchestra) and also with his own opera company, HighTime, at the Belgrade Theatre where he is currently resident as a Springboard Artist.
Benjamin’s work in opera has also nurtured his enthusiasm for immediately accessible translations: most recently a grime Die Fledermaus (Bat Out of Hackney) for Hackney Empire; an “Oxford Don” Don Giovanni for Hampstead Garden Opera; and a more traditional Carmen for Warwick Arts Centre.
Benjamin is musical director for a number of choirs, spanning the spectrum of genres and previous experiences: from the Cheshire Fire Choir (a 16-strong modern music choir from Gareth Malone’s Sing Whilst You Work) to Ex Urbe (20-part chamber choir with recordings for Radio 3) and from the Warwickshire Choristers (the largest unauditionned boys choir in the UK) to Hampton Singers (a traditional 60-strong choral society).
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