Retrospect Opera: Recording of ‘Jack Sheppard’

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Romanticists interested in the popular theatre of the 1820s and 30s will be happy to hear that Retrospect Opera has released a recording of the melodrama Jack Sheppard from 1839. Melodrama first arrived in Britain in 1802, and steadily grew in popularity through the later Romantic period. Jack Sheppard, with a text by John Baldwin Buckstone, adapted from William Harrison Ainsworth’s sensationally popular novel of the same name, and music by G. Herbert Rodwell, was one of the most successful examples of the genre. It contains some of the biggest musical hits of the early Victorian period.

No melodramas from this period survive complete, musically speaking, so we have filled the gaps in the Jack Sheppard score with music from Rodwell’s earlier melodrama, The Flying Dutchman, or The Phantom Ship (1826), another extremely popular melodrama that was played on both sides of the Atlantic for decades, and represents the most successful theatrical version of the story later treated by Richard Wagner.

We believe that nothing like this has been done before, and that the album represents a unique chance to experience the music from two seminal melodramas. Full of fun, excitement, sentiment, and great tunes, it would be a delightful stocking-filler! It should also teach well.

For more information, and to order a copy, see: Sales direct from Retrospect maximize our profit and will hopefully allow us to record more period melodramas in the future!

David Chandler
Retrospect Opera