The New D'Oyly Carte Patience (1994)

Colonel CalverleyDonald Maxwell
Major MurgatroydGareth Jones
Duke of DunstableDavid Fieldsend
Reginald BunthorneSimon Butteriss
Archibald GrosvenorHenry Wickham
Lady AngelaFrances McCafferty
Lady SaphirNerys Jones
Lady EllaYvonne Patrick
Lady JaneJill Pert
PatienceMary Hegarty

Chorus and Orchestra of the D'Oyly Carte Opera
Conductor: John Owen Edwards


This recording continues the New D'Oyly Carte's recent tradition of restoring all the available "lost" material to the opera at hand. In the case of Patience, this includes David Russell Hulme's reconstruction of the Duke's Song, which Sullivan composed three days before the premiere, but which was never sung in public. Although the orchestration is bound in to Sullivan's autograph score, there is no surviving vocal line. There have been various attempts at inventing one over the years, but the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society Journal finds this one the most successful. (I personally have no basis of comparison.) There is also a version of the Act II finale that includes a reprise of the Duke's song, which Dr. Hulme has reconstructed in a similar manner.

To my ears, this is one of the least appealing of the New D'Oyly Carte series, largely because of the fatally-misjudged performance of Simon Butteriss as Bunthorne. He imbues the part with Andrew Lloyd Webber-style histrionics, and he quickly leaves one yearning for—Phantom of the Opera. Mary Hegarty (Patience) is not at all equipped for the brief coloratura turn in her opening solo, but "Love is a plaintive song" is rather nice.

No one seems to have told Donald Maxwell that the Colonel is a patter role, and he is completely overmatched by his opening number. Henry Wickham (Grosvenor), David Fieldsend (Duke) and Jill Pert (Jane) are somewhat more successful but cannot overcome the other drawbacks, especially the Bunthorne. The recording's best number is "It's clear that medieval art," which is taken at a brisk clip.

When you consider that the old D'Oyly Carte recording on London/Decca includes complete dialogue, and the CD re-issue of the Sargent recording includes Sullivan's Symphony in E as a bonus, this set has little to recommend it, unless you're a collector who "must have everything," or the setting of the Duke's song appeals to you. The set is also extremely expensive.

Jamie Moffat had a more favorable opinion, so for balance I offer his review:

I basically wanted this recording for the sake of completion; the sole feedback I had had about it was on the G&S Discography site. The review there is mostly negative, and I was prepared for an indifferent performance. But how pleasantly surprised I was! I can see where the reviewer in question is coming from, but personal tastes often vary. Whilst I recognise a number of shortcomings, it does strike me as a highly competitive and desirable set. I cannot agree that Mary Hegarty's Patience lacks for anything. I find it a vocally secure and thoroughly charming performance, similar in interpretation (though assuredly not voice) to Winifred Lawson. John Owen Edwards gives, to my mind, the best account of this score by far to be found on CD. It canters along merrily, and refuses to get bogged down. Publish it not in the halls of EMI but I think he leaves Sargent for dead.

The main weakness is the Bunthorne of Simon Butteriss. It is, if anything, too vivid an interpretation, and I felt a little intimidated by it. No other word for it. I imagine he would be impressive on stage but he doesn't quite click in the recording. The chorus, as always, is first rate.

On the whole I would put it marginally behind the Decca CD set, but only because it lacks both the dialogue and Kenneth Sandford. Having said that I place it far ahead of the Glyndebourne effort, and ahead of Sargent's 1930 DOC recording. Anyone who has not heard it would do well to make the investment.

Derrick McClure wrote:

Does anybody agree that this recording must have the worst pair of poets since recordings began? Henry Wickham as Grosvenor is so utterly colourless and characterless that I can't summon up his voice in my head (though I played the record two days ago) — as I can with Alan Styler, John Cameron or Ken Sandford, though I haven't heard them for years. And though Simon Butteriss as Bunthorne certainly puts more life into the part, his bright, bubbly, bursting-with-enthusiasm rendering is completely inappropriate for a scheming, posturing fraud like Bunthorne: he hasn't even tried, or realised that he should try, to think of the character that Gilbert and Sullivan created. And while we're on the subject — splendid singer as Frances McCafferty is, what kind of daft idea was it to cast a plum-pudding-voiced contralto as the etherealised and exalted Lady Angela?

Jamie Moffat rejoined:

Personally I think the 1994 D'Oyly Carte Patience is splendid. It is invigorating, nuaunced and beautifully sung. Frances McCafferty is a wonderfully ethereal Angela, and I don't think anyone, not even Godfrey, can touch John Owen Edwards' conducting of this piece.

I know that the D'Oyly Carte put themselves on the line every time they issue a new recording. Every artist does. But this recording has had too much of a bad rap.

As a tribute to its power, when I missed out on a wonderful production recently due to a family illness, my extreme disappointment was eased not by Sargent, not by the '61 DC (though it was tempting) but by the 1994 TER D'Oyly Carte effort.

Bruce I. Miller wrote:

As with all the "new" D'Oyly Carte recordings, the musical values are consistently high. What bothers some of us is the lack of a company style that the old company had in spades. There have been too many changes in personnel over a short period of time, not to mention that the company doesn't operate the year round anymore, to allow the development of that subtle quality we can only define as "tradition" in its best sense.

In the case of this Patience, I understand that the new D'Oyly Carte never had done a fully staged production of the opera since its inception. They did put on a concert performance prior to making the recording, but that was all. It is not, therefore, surprising that some of the players were not altogether at home in their parts, although surely at least some of them had opportunities to play the roles elsewhere.

The two-CD set also includes the overtures to The Sorcerer, Utopia Limited, Cox & Box and Ruddigore—none of them among Sullivan's masterpieces, but all omitted on many of the overture collections issued in recent years. To my knowledge, there is not a cassette issue.

Issue History
1994 TER CD CDTER-1213  
Koch International CD 340 304 Highlights