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Britten's Noye's Fludde, Golden Vanity

Guest Author - Gillian Buchanan

This audio CD includes two works by the composer Benjamin Britten, the opera Noye's Fludde and the work for boy's choir The Golden Vanity.

The CD itself is in a jewel case and comes with an excellent, informative booklet with full librettos of both Noye's Fludde and The Golden Vanity. This is particularly useful in the case of the opera which is in medaeival English (spellings and all - hence the unusual spelling of the title) and uses the original script from the Chester miracle play. Playing time totals 65.5 minutes.

The recording of Noye's Fludde has been remastered from the original 1961 LP record. It includes the following cast:-

  1. Trevor Anthony - the voice of God
  2. Owen Brannigan - Noye
  3. Sheila Rex - Mrs Noye
  4. David Pinto - Sem
  5. Darien Angadi - Ham
  6. Stephen Alexander - Jaffett
  7. Caroline Clack - Mrs Sem
  8. Marie-Therese Pinto - Mrs Ham
  9. Eileen O'Donovan - Mrs Jaffett

It should be noted here that in modern editions of the bible Sem, Ham and Jaffet would be Shem, Ham and Japhet.

Mrs Noye's Gossips are Patricia Garrod, Margaret Hawees, Kathleen Patch and Gillian Saunders.

Further support is offered by members of the English Opera Group Orchestra, a chorus of animals (usually performed by children), an East Suffolk children's orchestra and Norman Del Mar as the Conductor. This performance is from Orford Church in Orford, Suffolk. The whole opera is a musical setting of the Chester Miracle Play Noye's Fludde.

This is a really terrific performance of the Fludde. The singing is top notch and Sheila Rex gives a fine performance as Mrs Noye. The acoustics of the church are ideal for the Voice of God recitals (which are spoken and not sung). I think the most exciting moments in the opera are the two processions, the first of the animals going into the ark and the second one of the animals coming out of it. The three hymns within the opera are intended to be sung by both the full cast of the opera and the congregation - at this time Britten wrote several works which included audience participation of which the Fludde is one. I'd recommend this disc alone for this performance of Noye's Fludde which is tremendously exciting and, with its use of tuned teacups (slung mugs) for special effect, it is a fairly early example of concrete music. Noye's Fludde was written in 1957 and first performed in 1958, so this recording is fairly close to the original performance, also in Orford Church.

The Golden Vanity was written in 1966 for the Wiener Sangerknaben (Vienna Boys Choir) who specifically requested Britten not to include any female roles for them to sing! It's a rather macabre story about the murder of the cabin boy who saves his ship from pirates by sinking the pirates' ship. This performance is sung by the Wandworth School Boys' Choir with Benjamin Britten at the piano and Russell Burgess as the choir director. It's set using the lyrics of an early English ballad by Colin Graham, and the boys in the choir give an excellent rendition of the work.

It is performed by the choir divided into two groups (one for the pirates, one for the Golden Vanity crew) and there are several solo roles:-

  1. Mark Emney - Captain of the Golden Vanity
  2. John Wojciechowski - Bosun of the Golden Vanity
  3. Barnaby Jago - Cabin-boy of the Golden Vanity
  4. Adrian Thompson - Captain of the Turkish Galilee
  5. Terry Lovell - Bosun of the Turkish Galilee

This is an enchanting disc which I can recommend knowing it will give you many hours of listening pleasure. I listened to the LP of Noye's Fludde many times as a child, my main reason for purchasing this CD when I found it was available! Noye's Fludde/The Golden Vanity is available at Amazon.com using the link should you wish to purchase it.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Gillian Buchanan. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Gillian Buchanan. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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