The Prince Consort Emerald Isle (1982)

The Earl of Newtown, K.P.Roland York
Dr. Fiddle, D.D.Maxwell Smart
Terence O'BrienAlan Borthwick
Professor BunnRichard Bourjo
Pat MurphyWinton Thomson
Black DanAlan Borthwick
Sergeant PincherRichard Bourjo
The Countess of NewtownJinty Smart
Lady Rosie PippinMary Timmons
Molly O'GradyMargaret Leask
SusanNorma Kemp
NoraJane Borthwick
KathleenJane Borthwick

Chorus of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Edinburgh
The Consort Orchestra
Conductor: David Lyle

Pearl SHE-574/5
Pearl SHE-574/5
Sounds on CD VGS207
Sounds on CD VGS207

This CD is a recording of a live concert performance. There was originally a running narration (shared by Alan Borthwick and David Lyle), which the Sounds on CD re-issue includes, but the Pearl re-issue, just like their LP, does not. The narration makes the complicated and preposterous plot comprehensible, but it can be tedious, especially on re-hearing.

As it is, The Emerald Isle comes across as decidedly dull, consisting of one pleasant yet unengaging number after another. There are some highlights, particularly the Act I finale, but not enough to sustain a complete opera. It is remarkable that, after Sullivan complained so often, and so bitterly, about Gilbertian plots that lacked human interest and believable situations, he accepted this utterly unbelievable libretto from Basil Hood. Sullivan died with the score only half finished. His junior colleague, Edward German, finished it.

Pearl GEMS 0189
Pearl GEMS 0189

Both Sullivan and German contributed their share of jaunty Irish melodies to the cause, while Sullivan's "Come away, to the caves of Carrig-Cleena" is the score's best number overall. It fails to hang together, however. The Emerald Isle must remain a curiosity.

Arthur Robinson was a bit more generous:

The Emerald Isle, like Utopia, Limited, is (IMO) not quite Sullivan at his best, but still highly enjoyable; a few songs (especially a couple of German's) are under par, but that's one of the advantages of having a CD player — you can program to hear what you want. Most of German's songs are so good that I would have accepted them as Sullivan's (albeit unusual Sullivan) if I hadn't known otherwise — and compliment more truly knightly I cannot think of offhand. Basil Hood's lyrics are probably the best non-Gilbert lyrics Sullivan set, other than Hood's Rose of Persia.

Issue History
1982PearlStereo LPSHE-574/5  
1999 Sounds on CD CD VGS 207
2003 Pearl CD GEMS 0189 Also includes The Rose of Persia