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The Lyric Stage: June 4 - A historic performance of Cavalaria Rusticana

This week on the Lyric Stage we have a recording in English of Cavaleria Rusticana from 1927, in a superior performance and with excellent restored sound. The recording is by the soloists, chorus and orchestra of the British National Opera Company, a company active from 1920 until 1929, which had a strong commitment to opera in English just as its spiritual successor the, English National Opera, does today.

It is not quite a complete version because it does have some unusual cuts that we would never hear today. What is usually a seventy to seventy-five minute running time is reduced to fifty-one minutes. This was to accommodate the nineteen or so fragile twelve inch 78 rpm discs needed to hold what was an effort to give as complete a performance of the opera as possible, while keeping the poundage within reason. We really do have it easy today.

Heddle Nash (1894-1961) heads the cast as Turriddu. He was England's most celebrated tenor from the 1920's through the 1940's, singing in the major houses in England in a range of roles from Count Almaviva in Rossini's Barber of Seville to Walter in Die Meistersinger. He also had a career as an orotorio and recital artist, and in later life as a teacher.