Recordings of Ruddigore

Background | Recordings


Ruddigore Poster
Contemporary Drawing of Scenes from Ruddigore

For an opera that supposedly "failed" in its initial run, Ruddigore has fared surprisingly well on the gramophone. The first complete recording, in 1924, included many of the same cast members who participated in the first revival, in 1919. Listen carefully to this recording, and in patches you will hear slightly different versions of some numbers than are published in the modern vocal scores. The many nips and tucks that D'Oyly Carte made in the score must have crept in over a number of years, and not, as has often been supposed, all at once.

The Company recorded the opera again in 1931. This is certainly a very credible performance and technologically superior to its predecessor, although not as historically important. More of the traditional cuts are taken, including "The battle's roar is over." This duet is also cut on the 1950 recording, which is now out of print.

There are two early stereo recordings, made within a year of each other: D'Oyly Carte (1962) and Sargent/EMI (1963). The D'Oyly Carte reading restores "The battle's roar is over" and includes Sullivan's original overture as a bonus. However, many listeners find it a dull reading of the score, and Robin Oakapple was probably the patter role to which John Reed was least suited. Nevertheless, it is a far superior recording to Sargent's traversal, with George Baker an octogenerian Robin.

It is rare that one recording of an opera so towers over the others that there can be no dispute over its superiority. This is the case here, as the 1987 New Sadler's Wells recording is the only one to present Sullivan's score as he wrote it, and it also restores a number of passages cut before or shortly after the first night. In my view, this is the one Ruddigore recording to have.

Also of interest is the Brent Walker video, with Vincent Price as Sir Despard. This is one of the stronger entries in the Walker series, and about as good a Ruddigore as we are likely to have on video.


**** 1924 D'Oyly Carte Acou 78 LP CD
*** 1931 D'Oyly Carte Elec 78 LP Cass CD
*** 1950 D'Oyly Carte Mono 78 45 LP Cass CD
**** 1962 D'Oyly Carte Ster LP reel Cass CD
** 1963 Sargent/EMI Ster LPCassCD
NR 1966 BBC Dial Radio
NR 1967 Halas & Batchelor Cartoon Abrg Film
NR 1972 G&S For All Ster Abrg LP Cass Film TV VCass CD
**** 1982 Brent Walker Productions Video TV VCass DVD
***** 1987 New Sadler's Wells Dig Bonus LPCassCD
NR 1989 BBC Ster Dial Radio
NR 2009 Ohio Light Opera Dig Dial CD