Retrospect Opera

Great British Operas On Record

About Retrospect Opera
We bring a variety of experience to Retrospect Opera - we combine expertise in performing, teaching and editing music, with research, and have all published on British music in our chosen period. Some of us have business experience too, which comes in handy.

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.

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.

Our first opera, Smyth's The Boatswain’s Mate, was released in August 2016, and our second, Burnand and Solomon’s Pickwick, together with George Grossmith’s Cups and Saucers, was released in February 2017. Extracts from Loder’s Raymond and Agnes, were performed in Bath in October 2015, and the complete opera was recorded in October 2017, with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Richard Bonynge. We recorded Smyth’s Fête Galante in November 2018 - Odaline de la Martinez conducted members of the Lontano Ensemble.

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.

Click here to e-mail David Chandler

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, 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 also edited the manuscripts of Smyth’s Fête Galante  and Loder’s Raymond and Agnes for Retrospect Opera. She is a Trustee of the Carl Rosa Archive Trust.

Valerie is a noted authority on the life and music of the English song-composer Roger Quilter, and is a contributor to the New Grove DictionaryMGG and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

She 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 has 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.

Click here to e-mail Valerie Langfield.

Following studies at Chetham's School of Music, Andy H. King completed Bachelor's and Master’s degrees in Music, specialising in vocal studies, conducting and musicology. Following a brief period as Assistant Orchestral Librarian with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, Andy embarked on a PhD exploring the life and songs of Sir Granville Bantock at The University of Birmingham where he is supervised by Dr Paul Rodmell. Pausing his academic obligations for two years Andy joined the Promotion Department of Boosey & Hawkes in London, before being appointed Chorus Manager with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

Departing the CBSO to return to academia in 2017, Andy supports his studies by working part-time as an Assistant Artist Manager (for Robert Gilder & Co.) in tandem with various freelance activities including writing on music and working as copyist/typesetter and editor. Andy has also acted as Interim Marketing Officer at Oldham Coliseum Theatre. Additionally, he is an experienced concert organiser, having assisted in the development, running and administration of the Manchester Pride Chamber Music and Song Recitals.

As a writer on music, Andy has written CD liner notes for pianist David Quigley, and concert programme notes for BBC Radio 3, the BBC Proms, the Bach Choir, The Sunday Boys and other independent concert promoters. For Oxford Music Online (Grove), he recently updated the article on Granville Bantock.

As well as being a Co-Founder of Retrospect Opera, Andy is a Trustee of The Sir George Dyson Trust and a volunteer mentor for the Albert Kennedy Trust.

Click here to e-mail Andy H. King. 

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.

Click here  to e-mail Christopher Wiley.

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).  

Click here to e-mail Ben Hamilton.