The Contrabandista

(Sullivan and F.C. Burnand, 1867)

Background | Recordings


Sullivan was educated as a serious musician. His first comic opera, Cox and Box, was composed as a diversion and probably never intended as a permanent career direction. However, that one-act opera's surprising success prompted the impressario German Reed immediately to commission a full-length opera from the same team of authors, Sullivan and F. C. Burnand.

The Contrabandista, or The Law of the Ladrones, Sullivan's first full-length stage work, did not repeat the success of Cox and Box. Burnand did not have enough dramatic inspiration to sustain a long piece, nor could Sullivan — now, or ever — rescue an opera through his score alone. Many years later, Sullivan and Burnand would rewrite and retitle the opera as The Chieftain, in which form it was even less successful.


NR 1970s Fulham Light Operatic Society Cass
** 1986 Prince Consort Cass CD
**** 2004 Hyperion CD

In addition, one song from this opera, "Only the night wind sighs alone", is on the album Lesley Garrett: Soprano in Red (Silva Classics; cd SILKD 6008; cassette SILKC 6008; 1995).

I normally don't list single tracks, but it seemed appropriate for an opera so seldom recorded.