The Rose of Persia

(Sullivan and Basil Hood, 1899)

Background | Recordings


For his last completed stage work, Sullivan finally had something that had eluded him for most of the 1890s: a success. As the composer himself put it after opening night:

I conducted as usual. Hideously nervous as usual — great reception as usual — great house as usual — excellent performance as usual — everything as usual — except that the piece is really a great success, I think, which is unusual lately.

The opera was in the classic Savoy mold, with topsy-turvy quips, a Mikado-like Madrigal, and even an executioner. The score brought out the melodic gifts that had been Sullivan's stock in trade, with one reviewer proclaiming that "The musician is once again absolutely himself." The piece achieved a respectable run of 211 performances. It is probably the best of Sullivan's 1890s operas.

There are three musically-complete recordings. The BBC Music Magazine recording, which appeared in the May 1999 issue, is the only professional recording of the opera. For the foreseeable future, it is not likely to be surpassed. A commercial release had been planned, but now apparently has stalled. For a less enthusiastic view of this recording, see Michael Walters's comparative review of the three Rose of Persia recordings.


NR 1963 St. Albans Amateur Operatic Society Ster LP
NR 1985 Prince Consort Ster LP CD
NR 1999 BBC Music Magazine Ster CD