Wallace: Maritana

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Wallace
LABELS: Marco Polo
WORKS: Maritana
PERFORMER: Majella Cullagh, Lynda Lee, Paul Charles Clarke, Ian Caddy, Damien Smith; RTE Philharmonic Choir & Concert Orchestra/Proinnsías Ó Duinn
CATALOGUE NO: 8.223406/7
William Wallace’s landmark English opera triumphed at Drury Lane in 1845 and remained a hit for almost a century. If you ever need songs from the shows in a hurry, voilà! – ‘Those sparkling eyes’, ‘Pretty Gitana’, ‘Alas, those chimes’, ‘Sainted Mother’, ‘Scenes that are brightest’.

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Forget the asinine plot and revel in the fun, abandon and unashamed sentiment of Maritana. The overture confirms Wallace’s pre-Verdian mettle; the RTE Concert Orchestra (one brass fluff aside) is this set’s true hero; and Majella Cullagh’s soaring coloratura gypsy girl triumphs. Her soldier beau, Don Caesar (Clarke), easily passes muster. Quentin Hayes (King of Spain) trips off a charming aria, and might have brought a blacker firmness to the villain (Caddy). The chorus flourishes, especially in the hubbub that abounds. The climaxes pack punch. This recitative-free RTE version may ultimately be bettered, but it’ll do nicely for now. Roderic Dunnett