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The Sunday Opera: Two Victorian Women - "Patience" and "Dorothy"

We’ll be hearing from two Victorian women with two happy endings on this week’s Sunday Opera (3/29 3:00 p.m.) in the form of “Patience” and “Dorothy.”  “Patience” is the better known of the two and comes from the pens of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.   Patience has never loved, and she looks at all of the lovesick maidens pining after others with scorn.  They all love an aesthetic poet named Reginald Bunthorne, but he loves Patience who rejects him causing him to decide to auction himself off to one of the other ladies with the proceeds going to charity as he really doesn’t like poetry.  Patience actually had a childhood love who appears as another aesthetic poet named Archibald Grosvenor who is known far and wide as “Archibald the All-Right.”  Patience cannot love him now because he is perfection, and it would be selfish for her to do so.   Of course, everything works out for the best; all those who are available find a match, and we have the necessary happy ending.  

Our cast from 1961 includes Mary Sansom as Patience, John Reed as Bunthorne, and Kenneth Sandford as Archibald.  Other members of the company include Yvonne Newman, Gillian Knight, Beti Lloyd-Jones, Jennifer Toye, Donald Adams, John Cartier, and Philip Potter.  Isidore Godfrey conducts the New Symphony Orchestra of London and The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company Soloists and Chorus.  

We have another happy ending for our second opera (and we really need some happy endings) from 1886 and the long forgotten “Dorothy” by Alfred Cellier and B.C. Stephenson.  This opera played for an initial run of 931 performances after a rocky start, a record it would keep for nearly two decades.  This is another love story where two wealthy young ladies, Dorothy and her cousin Lydia, who think that women are far better off not being married, disguise themselves as country maids only to meet the two men they would eventually marry, who are also in disguise, and who don’t realize the deception until the end of the opera.  We’ll hear mostly music and very little dialogue of “Dorothy,” but it’s a chance to hear a piece that was incredibly popular in its day.  The cast for this includes Majella Cullagh, Lucy Vallis, Stephanie Maitland, Matt Mears, John Ieuan Jones, and Edward Robinson.  Richard Bonynge conducts.  After the operas we’ll have more music of Sullivan with two of his overtures that were arranged by Cellier, his “Overture di ballo,” and a short march from one of his forgotten works, “The Rose of Persia.”

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.