Majella Cullagh, Lucy Vallis, Stephanie Maitland, Matt Mears; Victorian Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Richard Bonynge
Naxos 8.660447 70:52 mins
Originating at London’s Gaiety Theatre in September 1886, after a slow start Alfred Cellier’s ‘pastoral comedy opera’ became a theatrical hit of the era, its run of 931 performances easily exceeding that of The Mikado: the Lyric Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue – where it ran during its final stages – was built on the proceeds. Cellier was one of Sullivan’s able musical assistants: not long ago his collaboration with WS Gilbert The Mountebanks (1891) was recorded for the first time. Although the orchestral materials for Dorothy were destroyed in a fire at the music publishers Chappell & Co in 1964, the location of a set of parts made for a reduced Australian touring production has allowed Richard Bonynge to create his own performing edition, which makes a few cuts, presumably to bring the piece within the span of one disc (no dialogue is included).
Cellier’s score is amiably put together if lacking the inventiveness of Sullivan or Edward German: George Bernard Shaw had no patience with it and left before the final act. I’d be surprised if the recording led to any major revivals, but it’s good to have such a capable performance available. Majella Cullagh leads in the title role and the other parts are also taken with skill and a sense of style, while Bonynge conducts with vivacity.