Retrospect Opera announces Ethel Smyth's The Boatswain's Mate


Retrospect Opera announces Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate

Retrospect Opera is pleased to announce the release of its debut recording, the first complete recording of Dame Ethel Smyth’s most popular opera, The Boatswain’s Mate, conducted by Smyth specialist Odaline de la Martinez.

The Boatswain’s Mate proved the most popular of all the early twentieth-century British operas, making use of folk music to depict something of realistic rural life. Smyth’s suffragette anthem, The March of the Women, is significantly incorporated into the overture, and nursery rhymes and folk tunes are utilised in the main body of the work.

Smyth prepared two versions of her score, one for full and one for reduced orchestra, itself with two versions, small and smaller. We are using the smaller reduced version as The Boatswain’s Mate is a small-scale work, ideally suited for smaller companies and venues. Smyth clearly wanted it to be a popular work and regarded the reduced orchestral versions as essential for its wider cultural diffusion.

One of the liveliest and most enterprising musical personalities on the International music scene, Cuban American Odaline de la Martinez pursues a demanding and successful career. Brought up and educated in the USA, she settled in London and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1984, Martinez became the first woman to conduct a BBC Promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Since then she has been invited to the Proms regularly, including a special performance in 1994 of Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Wreckers.

A review of the CD can be found here.