Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Nathan Granner, Marnie Breckenridge, Kevin Short, Lester Lynch; Young People’s Chorus of New York City; Barbary Coast Orchestra/Nicole Paiement
Pentatone PTC 5187 026 (EP) 24:19 mins
James Hilton’s 1934 novella about teacher Mr Chipping and his life at an all-boys British boarding school now finds new life as an opera. Goodbye, Mr. Chips was premiered as a filmed production in 2021 due to Covid restrictions and this EP offers highlights from the soundtrack. Tenor Nathan Granner charms as the title character, reflecting on loss in ‘Long Remembered’, where the Young People’s Chorus of New York City represent the students of Brookfield, his much-loved school. The story is told through flashbacks, including dalliances with one headmaster (‘Ralston’s Redemption’), sung by bass-baritone Kevin Short, through whom we discover some of Mr Chips’s less wholesome pupils. There are also recollections of Kathie, Chipping’s wife who died during childbirth. Soprano Marnie Breckenridge sweetly foreshadows the tragedy in ‘Chips darling it’s started’, a lyrical aria with colourful orchestration including harp and piano. This style is echoed in a later interlude, with melodic writing for strings, piano and tuned percussion. The reasons for releasing just six tracks are unclear – nonetheless the selection whets one’s appetite for the full-scale score.